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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Six Party Talks, U.S. Arms

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 003343

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/RSP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD -
ROBERT PALLADINO
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: SIX PARTY TALKS, U.S. ARMS
PROCUREMENT

1. Summary: The water shortage in Taoyuan, which has
now turned into a political issue, was the front-page
headline story in most major Chinese-language Taipei
dailies August 11. The pro-independence "Liberty
Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, on the other hand, ran
a banner headline on its page four that read: "[The
Executive Yuan] will push for the passage of the [U.S.]
arms procurement bill by including it in the
[government's] special budget." The sub-headline
added: "Premier Hsieh and President Chen have
communicated [over the bill, saying that] as long as an
interim legislative session is held, the bill will
still be reviewed in the form of a special budget.
[The proposal to] list [the funding of] the bill in the
regular annual budget will be used as an alternative
option."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an
editorial and an op-ed piece in the limited-
circulation, pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" both discussed the U.S. arms procurement bill,
whereas a commentary in the pro-independence "Taiwan
Daily" continued to discuss the Six Party Talks.
Taiwan Think Tank International Affairs Director Lai I-
chung, in the "Taiwan Daily" commentary, urged Taiwan
to seize the opportunity to increase its bargaining
chips in the region by engaging with Pyongyang. The
"Taipei Times" editorial suggested that President Chen
do what some pan-Blue legislators have been calling on
the administration to do with regard to the U.S. arms
procurement bill, namely, to include the arms
procurement in the government's annual defense budget.
Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Su Chin-chiang,
however, said in the "Taipei Times" that the best way
to avoid an attack from China is for all the Taiwan
people to demonstrate their resolve to protect the
island. End summary.

1. Six Party Talks

"Six Party Talks Will Push for a Strategic Reshuffle in
Northeast Asia - Will Taiwan Become Another South
Korea?"

Lai I-chung, International Affairs Director of the
Taiwan Think Tank, observed in the "International
Spotlight" column of the pro-independence "Taiwan
Daily" [circulation: 150,000] (8/11):

". If we observe the interactions between the United
States, Japan, China and North and South Koreas in the
`Six Party Talks' and their possible development in the
future, [we may see that] Taiwan needs not worry too
much that Washington will sacrifice the island's
interests since it needs China's assistance in
resolving the nuclear situation on the Korean
Peninsula. In the meantime, [we may also note that]
the strategic competition between the `U.S.-Japan
alliance' and China will only intensify, and China as
well as the two Korea's clashes with the United States
and Japan in the diplomatic aspect in the Asia-Pacific
region may likely expand. But Taiwan must not feel
happy secretly about the intensifying competition
between Washington, Tokyo and Beijing and thought that
the island will not become expendable. If it does so,
it will mean that Taiwan is merely waiting passively to
see how the situation will develop and will thus fail
to seize this opportunity to create proactively a
strategic turning point that is favorable for itself.

"What Taiwan needs to help is not to maintain a
situation where Washington and Tokyo will work together
to fight against China. Instead, Taiwan needs to help
and create a strategic balance in the region in which
sea nations such as the United States and Japan can get
the upper hand. With regard to Pyongyang's possession
of the nuclear weapons, since it is an easy matter to
resolve, [Taiwan] at least should prevent China from
using the nuclear issue to increase its influence.
Taiwan also hopes that Seoul could restore a relatively
balanced relationship with Washington, Japan and
Beijing and modify the current situation of `pro-China,
anti-Japan, and keeping a distance with the United
States.' This objective may be reached through
flexible and mature engagement between Taiwan and North
Korea.

"If Taiwan can convince Washington and Tokyo, its
interaction with North Korea can then actually make
China realize that it cannot single-handedly control
North Korea. For Seoul, North Korea's engagement with
Taiwan will also cause it to adjust its previous pro-
China practice and increase its interaction with Taiwan
so as to gain more control over the future development
of North Korea's nuclear program. As a result, Seoul
will have more bargaining chips than China over the
nuclear situation on the Korean Peninsula.

"For Pyongyang, its interaction with Taiwan will in
fact increase its bargaining capabilities with China,
so naturally it will be happy to do so. For Tokyo and
Washington, Taiwan's interaction with, and possible
financial aid to, North Korea can not only help the two
countries retain their [original] position when
negotiating with [Pyongyang] but may also alter
Beijing's and Seoul's ways in handling the nuclear
issue on the Korean peninsula and their attitude toward
Washington and Tokyo. ."

2. U.S. Arms Procurement

A) "Call the Pan-Blue's Bluff"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (8/11):

"It's time for President Chen Shui-bian to accept
reality. The special arms procurement budget will
never pass - at least, not in anything like its current
form. It's time to give up on the special budget
tactic, which has left the pan-greens looking
ineffectual and incompetent. .

"The key is to do exactly what some pan-blue
legislators have been calling on the administration to
do for several months: Include the procurement of the
items in the annual defense budget. .

"So Chen should agree to this demand. The math is
quite simple. The proposed special arms budget, as it
stands now, would require the government to spend
NT$480 billion (US$15 billion) over 15 years to
purchase three major weapons systems from the US. This
translates to a little over US$1 billion a year to
purchase eight diesel-electric submarines, three PAC-3
Patriot anti-missile batteries and 12 P-3C Orion
maritime patrol aircraft.

"Taiwan has budgeted about US$8 billion to spend on
defense for Fiscal 2005. If the annual defense budget
were increased to 3 percent of GDP - about US$9.3
billion - this would mean that the Ministry of National
Defense would have an added US$1.3 billion to spend on
shiny new toys. Over 15 years, the added amount would
total a whopping US$19.5 billion - US$4.5 billion in
excess of the amount requested for the special arms
procurement budget. ."

B) "Taiwan Has to Bolster Its Defense and Resolve"

Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Shu Chin-chiang noted
in an op-ed piece in the pro-independence "Taipei
Times" [circulation: 30,000] (8/11):

". In the face of the ever-increasing military threat
from China, the pro-Beijing parties are holding up the
passage of the budget which will enable Taiwan to buy
US weapons. This is little short of encouraging China
to invade Taiwan, and then to expand into the Asia-
Pacific region. The repercussions of all this are very
worrying indeed.

"Given the threat that exists from China, Taiwan should
form an Asia-Pacific security community with the US and
Japan to deal with Beijing's military rise. Without
strength there is no peace, but Taiwan should neither
engage in a senseless mutual escalation with China, nor
tie the question of security within the Taiwan Strait
to whether or not China will invade Taiwan.

"The best way to avoid and prevent an attack from China
is for the entire population of Taiwan to demonstrate
the resolve and willingness to protect their homeland.
This is what is meant by the terms `civilian-based
defense' and `psychological defense.'"

PAAL

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