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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Arms Procurements

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

222308Z Sep 05




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Major Chinese-language Taipei dailies
focused their coverage September 22 on Taiwan
independent Legislator Li Ao's speech delivered at
Beijing University Wednesday; the death of a three-year-
old boy who was left unattended in a kindergarten van;
President Chen Shui-bian's transit in the United
States; and the reaction of Taiwan military and
legislators to U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
Richard Lawless' statement Monday on Taiwan's blocked
arms procurement bill. The centrist "China Times" ran
a news story on page four that was topped with the
headline: "In Response to U.S. Official's `Harsh
Remarks,' Military: [We] Have Never Expected That the
United States Would Help Defend Taiwan." The pro-
unification "United Daily News," on the other hand,
quoted Taiwan Vice Defense Minister Huo Shou-yeh on its
page four as saying that the Pentagon was merely
concerned about Taiwan's national security as a friend.
Both the "United Daily News" and "China Times" carried
reactions by PFP Legislator Lin Yu-fang saying the U.S.
criticism is interference in Taiwan's domestic affairs,
while the pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's
biggest daily, reported on former Cabinet Secretary-
General (DPP) Liu Hsih-fang's statement that Taiwan
political parties should consider U.S. arms
procurements from the perspective of national
interests, instead of from the interests of political

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2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, editorials
in the pro-independence "Liberty Times," "Taiwan Daily"
and limited-circulation, English-language "Taipei
Times" all criticized the pan-Blue camp for
disregarding Taiwan's national security and blocking
the U.S. arms procurement bill under the pretense of
following public opinion. They also warned Taiwan to
pay attention to Washington's change in both mentality
and policy with regard to defending Taiwan. "United
Daily News" Washington correspondent Vincent Chang
wrote in an opinion piece that it is embarrassing that
the United States has to "teach" Taiwan how to value
its security. A famous Taiwan lawyer/law professor,
Chen Charng-ven, said in a separate opinion piece in
the "United Daily News" that Taiwan should ask the
United States to sign a joint defense pact with Taiwan
before it spends a huge amount money on buying weapons
from the United States. End summary.

A) "Pan-Blue Camp Must Clarify to All Taiwan People
about Its Motives to Block [U.S.] Arms Procurements"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
600,000] editorialized (9/22):

"The [U.S.] arms procurement bill has still failed to
be reviewed by the Legislative Yuan's Procedure
Committee. Some American friends that are concerned
about Taiwan seemed to have changed their attitude from
concern into [feelings of] powerlessness and
disappointment; they also strongly question if Taiwan
is really determined to defend itself. The remarks
made by American officials recently somehow reveal a
gradual change in the United States' mentality and
policy in defending Taiwan. .

"The candid remarks by American officials, without
doubt, have articulated an embarrassing fact that some
pan-Blue politicians in Taiwan hold the United States
to the promise that, given its moral responsibility,
Washington will surely not give up on Taiwan. They are
thus waiting fearlessly for the United States to defend
Taiwan. Other pan-Blue politicians are basically
tilting toward China; they genuinely believe that China
is their `mother nation' and they have never stop
hoping that their `mother nation' will come and take
over Taiwan or Taiwan will be handed over to China one
day. For them as a result, Taiwan does not need any
national defense [capabilities].

"Just as Ross said, the arms procurements have become a
political football kicked back and forth between the
pan-Blue and pan-Green camps. It is a pity that
Taiwan's security has been sacrificed in this political
game. An independent nation must demonstrate its
dignity and sovereignty. Thus, for the DPP, in
addition to the special arms procurement package, it
should seek to increase the government's annual defense
budget ratio so as to really strengthen Taiwan national
defense. . To show their responsibility for the Taiwan
people, the pan-Blue camp must clarify to all why it
has repeatedly blocked the arms procurement bill. ."

B) "Pan-Blue Camp Echoes China and Disregards
[Taiwan's] National Security; It Blocks [U.S.] Arms
Procurements Under the Pretense of [Following] Public
Opinion - Ross' Strong-worded Statement That `United
States Has No Obligation to Defend Taiwan' Is Worth
Reflections of Both the Ruling and Opposition Parties.
Taiwan People Should No Longer Keep Silent [over the
Arms Procurements]"

The pro-independence "Taiwan Daily" [circulation:
100,000] commented in an editorial (9/22):

". [U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency's Security
Cooperation Operations Principal Director Edward] Ross'
remarks reflect the long-term, intense battles between
Taiwan's political parties. Since [the U.S. arms
sales] is a matter of Taiwan's national security, all
Taiwan people should spend some time reviewing and
reflecting on [Ross' statements]. . The opposition
party politicians are opposed to the U.S. arms
procurements, and they deliberately smear Ross' remarks
by saying Washington criticizes Taiwan just for the
sake of U.S. interests and the interests of the
American arms dealers. This is not true. The decision
regarding whether Taiwan should purchase weapons should
be made in consideration of Taiwan's national security.
If China did not act like a warmonger, constantly
conduct military drills ., increase its armaments, and
[act as if it] is ready to invade and annex Taiwan any
time, Taiwan would not need to buy weapons from the
United States at all. In addition, the U.S. arms
procurements are not a matter related to Taiwan's
security only; it is also closely linked to the balance
of power in the Asia-Pacific region and the world. As
Taiwan's ally, the United States will undoubtedly sit
back and do nothing about [China's actions]. ."

C) "Taiwan Needs Consensus on Defense"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 300,000] wrote in an editorial (9/22):

"The director of the US Defense Security Cooperation
Agency, Edward Ross, on Monday issued a blunt warning
on Taiwan's blocked arms-procurement bill, saying that
in terms of its Taiwan Relations act (TRA), the US is
under no obligation to help Taiwan deter a military
threat in the Strait. If it believes that Taiwan has
not fulfilled its unwritten obligation to ensure its
own viable self-defense.

"The US' comments to Taiwan have evolved from
statements of support and appreciation into complaints,
and now into clear words of warning. . Without doubt,
the Bush administration seems to have grown rather
disappointed, frustrated and discontented with
politicians in Taiwan on the self-defense issue. .

"Can you blame the US? Even Taiwan's friends in the US
Congress are asking why the US should risk the lives of
its young men and women to defend Taiwan, which seems
to be reluctant to invest in its own defense.

"Some in Taiwan argue that Taiwan can never match the
spending of China, the emerging military giant - so why
try? Such a mindset demonstrates a fundamental
misunderstanding of the role of the military. The
military exists to deter attacks. It deters attacks by
providing a credible defense capability. It is
frustrating enough to see Taiwan being locked in a
diplomatically disadvantageous position on the
international stage, but it is even more terrifying to
see senseless domestic politics making Taiwan's
national defense one of the nation's weakness.

"All politicians, regardless of party affiliations,
ought to ask themselves and examine their hearts about
what they have done to substantively promote Taiwan's
national defense. Taiwan possesses no offensive
capability against China. Are they going to let the
nation lose even the most basic minimum requirement - a
capacity to at least deter threats?

"It is time for all the people of Taiwan to reach a
consensus on national security and show the US that
Taiwan is not coward, nor a baby that knows only how2
to cry for help but refuses to help itself."

D) "How to Face the United States' `Guidance Chess'"

Washington correspondent Vincent Chang wrote in an
opinion piece in the conservative, pro-unification
"United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (9/22):

". These harsh words, which represent the U.S.
government's stand and are not moderated, is like the
United States' ultimatum to Taiwan. It shows that the
United States is at its most impatient. With his words,
[Edward Ross is] treating years of Taiwan's inaction
with its defense as the maneuver to get a free ride
from the United States and drag Uncle Sam into the

"How to protect Taiwan's security is a serious matter -
unless the Chinese Communist Party gives up [its]
military threat against Taiwan, any alleged kindness
comes with conditions. But Blue and Green politicians'
verbal exchanges on the U.S. arms procurement bill
completely blur the focus . .

"Although Ross clarified that his talk was not meant to
urge Taiwan to pass the arms procurement bill, or to
get Taiwan into a military competition with China, he
also said it was not enough only to increase the
defense budget, but the defense budget has to be
prioritized. Between his covers, he was still unable to
hide the United States' intention to `play a guide in
the chess.'

"It is very embarrassing for the governing party and
the opposition to allow a foreign country to teach
Taiwan about how to appreciate the importance of its
own security. The U.S. is delivering harsh words to
show its impatience, and it has made its intention very
clear. Taiwan does not have to act according to the
United States' liking, but if it decides to forgo the
arms procurement deal, then it has to be capable of
dealing with the risk of the United States' adjustment
of its security lever role in the Taiwan Strait. If
[Taiwan] wants to purchase the weapons but does not
want to pay such a high price, then [Taiwan] has to be
able to bargain. Besides waging verbal wars, the
governing party and the opposition parties should
demonstrate their real abilities."

E) "Tell the United States: No Arms Deals If They Do
Not Sign a Defense Pact [with the Island]"

Lawyer and Law Professor Chen Charg-ven said in an
opinion piece in the pro-unification "United Daily
News" [circulation: 400,000] (9/22):

"U.S. defense official Edward Ross made a strong-worded
statement regarding Taiwan's arms procurements. Ross'
speech was interpreted as Washington saying it will not
defend Taiwan if the arms procurement bill fails to
pass. In fact, Ross' remarks have just pointed out the
reason why we are opposed to arms procurements.

"Ross said: `If you [i.e. Taiwan] cannot defend
yourself, we cannot help to defend you;' meaning that
`no arms deals, no [U.S.] assistance to defend
[Taiwan.]" In this double negative proposition, it
seems an evident fact that should Taiwan fail to pass
the arms procurement bill, the United States will
certainly not send any troops if a war breaks out in
the Taiwan Strait. But will the United States send
troops to the Strait if Taiwan passes the arms
procurement bill and if Beijing invades Taiwan? It
seems that judged from the reality, the answer remains
to be no. First, [since] Taipei and Washington have no
joint defense pact, the United States is `not obliged
to help defend [Taiwan].' Second, when it comes to
Pyongyang's nuclear program, Washington needs to rely
on Beijing. How high are the chances that the two
military hegemonic powers in the world will start a
world war because of Taiwan? .

"Finally, Taiwan needs not worry about the harsh
remarks by American officials. The opposition parties
must by no means be thwarted. Washington's harsh
remarks showed that they attach great importance to the
humongous interests concerning the arms deals. Judged
from a negotiator's perspective, it shows that Taiwan
has got more bargaining chips! Why don't [we] ask the
United States to sign a joint defense pact with Taiwan
to show Washington is really sincere in helping to
defend the island? If Washington agrees to sign such a
pact, it makes more sense for Taiwan to purchase
weapons from the United States, and it will be a major
diplomatic breakthrough for Taiwan (signing a formal
pact means that Taiwan's status in the international
law is recognized.) If Washington refuses to sign the
pact, it simply tells us a fact that even if we spend a
huge money buying weapons, we cannot defeat Beijing,
and Washington will not send troops should there be a
war in the Taiwan Strait. So why bother to waste our

"The ruling, opposition parties and all Taiwan people,
please say it out loud to the United States: no arms
deal if [Washington] refuses to sign a [defense] pact
[with Taiwan]! If the government is determined to buy
those weapons, please explain in details the reasons
why [we need to buy them]; do not give us those empty
reasons such as `Taiwan cannot live without nation
defense.' The government should also explain in
details the source of funding for buying those weapons;
we do not want to act irresponsibly and leave the debts
to our future generations."


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