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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan,

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

080801Z Sep 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 003711

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: U.S. ARMS SALES TO TAIWAN,
CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS


1. Summary: Major Chinese-language Taipei dailies
focused their coverage September 8 on local politics
and a meeting between KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou and PFP
Chairman James Soong Wednesday, in which both sides
failed to reach a consensus on whether the Pan-Blue
legislators should review the U.S. arms procurement
bill. All the Chinese-language newspapers carried the
news story about the U.S. arms procurements in their
inside pages with a similar headline: "Ma-Soong meeting
fails to reach a consensus on whether the U.S. arms
procurement bill will be reviewed by [Legislative
Yuan's] Procedure Committee." The centrist "China
Times" also printed a news story on its page two, which
was topped with the headline: "Taiwan's National
Defense Ministry revealed when briefing Ma Ying-jeou on
the arms procurements: [Chen Shui-] Bian has promised
the United States that Taiwan will buy PAC-3 missiles
first."

The pro-independence "Taiwan Daily," on the other hand,
ran a banner headline on its front page that read:
"[Former President] Lee Teng-hui: the United States'
Declaration of Independence is worth pondering for
Taiwan." The sub-headline added: "[Lee] attends the
`Hand-in-Hand to Safeguard Taiwan Alliance' and says
Taiwan already possesses the contents of a new country.
[Lee says] Taiwan needs to write a new constitution and
rectify its name; [Lee] announces there will be a
parade calling for `strengthening [Taiwan's] national
defense and safeguarding Taiwan' September 25." A
second news story on the front page of the "Taiwan
Daily" was topped with the headline: "For the first
time, the national flag of Taiwan will be fluttering in
front of the Presidential Office today."

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2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, the pro-
independence "Liberty Times" ran an editorial that
criticized PFP Chairman James Soong for blocking the
U.S. arms procurement bill. Washington correspondent
James Wang said in the pro-independence "Taiwan Daily"
that Taiwan must try its best to request that the
United States respect its democracy, acknowledge
Taiwan's independent sovereign status and restrain
China's moves to annex Taiwan. Former AIT Chairman and
now a special advisor to the "Liberty Times" Group Nat
Bellocchi noted in the limited-circulation, pro-
independence, English-language "Taipei Times" that
China's involvement in Taiwan's domestic affairs will
become more and more intrusive. End summary.

1. U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

"How Can [U.S.] Arms Procurement [Bill] Be Kidnapped by
Frustrated Politicians?"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
600,000] editorialized (9/8):

". When it comes to issues concerning national
security, [people] must not be deceived by the
different views or positions held by various political
parties, nor should the arms procurement bill be stuck
in the mire of confrontations between the Pan-Blue and
Pan-Green Camps or their grudges over election results.
How can the safety of the life and property of the 23
million people on the island be kidnapped by merely few
frustrated politicians? The Pan-Blue Camp may have
different views with regard to the items or price tags
of the weaponry that Taiwan plant to purchase, but they
should at least let legislators review the arms
procurement bill and seek to coordinate different
positions and views in the Congress in an attempt to
make the arms procurement bill more comprehensive.
This is the right way that the Pan-Blue Camp should
adopt when supervising and checking and balancing the
government and it will be a blessing for all people in
Taiwan."

2. Cross-Strait Relations

A) "`Maintaining the Status Quo' Is an Anesthetic -
Part I"

Washington correspondent James Wang commented in the
"Washington Review" column of the pro-independence
"Taiwan Daily" [circulation 100,000] (9/8):

". The U.S. government is opposed to `any unilateral
attempt' by either Taiwan or China `to change the
status quo.' The United States' so-called `changing
the status' is clearly demonstrated in the way that it
is opposed to China's use of force to annex Taiwan and
also to Taiwan's attempts to rectify its name and write
a new constitution. However, when it comes to China's
enactment of the so-called `Anti-Secession Law' to
block Taiwan's attempt to join the international
organizations, Washington has either failed to stop it
or has yet to come up with a final decision about what
to do. On the other hand, however, Washington, acting
in the name of stability, has forcefully restrained
Taiwan from using democratic and peaceful means to
resist China's attempt to annex the island. Washington
is indulgent towards China's attempt to use non-violent
means to annex Taiwan, but it restrained Taiwan from
using democratic and peaceful means to counterstrike
China's attempt. Such a way of `maintaining the status
quo' has evidently put Taiwan in an unfavorable
position.

".To break such a predicament, . Taiwan must try its
best to request that the United States respect its
democracy, acknowledge Taiwan's independent sovereign
status and hold back China's moves to annex Taiwan.

"The DPP government and those who do not want to see
Taiwan being colonized again should realize that the
U.S. government can restrain Taiwan government's
behaviors, but it cannot restrain Taiwan people's
efforts to `change the status quo.' In contrast, if
the public views in Taiwan calling for the United
States to change the status quo grow strong enough, it
will eventually affect Washington's policy which
opposes `any unilateral attempt to change the status
quo. .'"

B) "China Bound to Increase Meddling"

Former AIT Chairman and now a special advisor to the
"Liberty Times" Group Nat Bellocchi noted in the pro-
independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (9/8):

"In Washington, among those who are involved in the
three-sided cross-strait relations, there is seldom -
if ever - a consensus on what is best for US interests.
Despite occasional reports by the executive branch to
the US Congress and the public, even the appearance of
consensus never exists for very long, due to the
increasing complexity of cross-strait relations.

"Starting with last year's presidential election in
Taiwan, which reinforced the ruling party, and then the
legislative elections which deflected it, many experts
in the US when from being deeply concerned about where
Taiwan was going (provoking China) to being concerned
about where it wasn't going (strengthening its
security).

"In Washington that is the classic division of
consensus - worry about China or worry about security.
.

"There seems now a perception among many that the
results of the last legislative election, and more
recently several statements by some analysts in Taiwan
and abroad that independence is no longer a viable
option and should be dropped, has caused mainstream of
public opinion to shift in that direction. .

"The ruling party has not been very effective in
challenging these views, however. In the struggle
between the two political groups - pan-green and pan
blue - during the events that lay ahead of the next
presidential election, how much further along real
consensus on the cross-strait issue will be remains
uncertain. It will almost surely mean that China's
involvement in Taiwan's domestic affairs will become
even more intrusive, however, something both the US and
Taiwan must ponder. ."

KEEGAN

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