Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations,
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 TAIPEI 004139
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - ERIC
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW ESTH
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS,
1. Summary: Major Chinese-language Taipei dailies
focused their coverage October 8-11 on: President Chen
Shui-bian's "Double Ten" address; the follow-up probe
into the alleged shady recruitment practices regarding
the Kaohsiung mass rapid transit system; Taiwan's year-
end "3-in-1" elections; and the earthquake in South
Asia. The pro-unification "United Daily News" ran a
banner headline on its front page October 9 that read:
"UDN Poll Survey: Bian's Approval Rating Drops to a New
Low of 25 Percent." The sub-headline added: "61
Percent [of the Respondents] Say They Believe the DPP
Has Lost the Ideals The Party Was Founded Upon; 58
Percent of [Those Polled] Say the New DPP Movement
Initiated by [The DPP's Candidate for Taipei County
Magistrate Election] Luo Wen-jia Is Being Made [Solely]
out of Campaign Considerations."
Several newspapers reported in their inside pages
October 8 the remarks President Chen made during an
October 7 interview with Reuters that he believes that
the U.S. arms procurement bill might be passed after
Taiwan's year-end "3-in-1" elections as the KMT will no
longer need to work with the PFP after the elections
conclude. The centrist "China Times," however, ran an
exclusive news story about the stalled arms procurement
bill on its front page October 11 topped with the
headline: "The United States Rushes to Freeze the
Taiwan-U.S. [Joint] War Games." The newspaper also
carried a news story on its page four the same day with
the headline: "Another Voice Emerges Following
[Washington's] Harsh Criticism against Taiwan's Arms
Procurement: The United States Is Concerned about
Taiwan's Obtaining Defensive Weapons."
2. Several newspapers editorialized on President Chen's
October 7 remarks to Reuters in which he said his
current cross-Strait strategy is to "strive for delays
while not fearing talks." Editorials in the pro-
independence "Liberty Times" and limited-circulation,
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" both
supported Chen's stance to "go slow" with regard to
cross-Strait talks. An editorial in the pro-
unification "United Daily News," however, questioned
Chen's strategy and said Beijing has determined to deal
with the Taiwan issue by delaying it - namely, the
problem will be resolved naturally and no military
force will be necessary until it reaches the time
Taiwan is at the end of its rope. An editorial in the
limited-circulation, conservative, pro-unification,
English-language "China Post" commented on Deputy
Secretary of States Robert Zoellick's speech in New
York September 21, saying his speech could be seen as a
broad agenda for the strategic dialogue that he has
been assigned to lead for the Bush administration in an
attempt to alleviate Beijing's deep-seated mistrust of
Washington. DPP Legislator Lin Cho-shui, on the other
hand, expressed a novel view (for a DPP member) with
regard to the U.S. arms procurements in a commentary in
the limited-circulation, pro-independence, English-
language "Taipei Times." Lin said there is a deep
contradiction in the United States' Taiwan policy, in
which Washington asks Taiwan to purchase extremely
expensive weapons to protect its sovereignty while at
the same time it refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is
a sovereign state. A separate "Taipei Times" editorial
discussed the possible outbreak of avian influenza and
called on the international community and WHO to see
the urgent need for Taiwan to be brought into the loop.
1. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
A) "There Is Nothing [for Both Sides of the Taiwan
Strait] to Talk about Under the One China [Principle]
and [China's] Military Intimidation"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
600,000] editorialized (10/10):
"President A-bian said the Beijing authorities once
claimed that they want to `strive for talks with Taiwan
without fearing delays,' but now he wants to modify
this statement into `striving for delays while not
fearing talks.' According to Chen Shui-bian, this is a
kind of thinking and a choice that is the most
favorable for the people of Taiwan because it will
benefit Taiwan least if the island appears to be
anxious or scared. .
". In reality, the purpose of China's `striving for
talks' is to create a false image of peace across the
Taiwan Strait in the international community and in
front of the Taiwan people. Of course, the move [by
Beijing] is to cover the fact of China's increasing
military threats against Taiwan. .
"This newspaper believes that the [Taiwan] government
should delay [cross-Strait talks] `with a clear end in
mind.' What are delays `with a clear end in mind'? To
put it in plain language, it means militarily, [Taiwan]
must take full defensive precautions so that China will
not dare to risk danger in desperation; in terms of
sovereignty, [Taiwan] must insist on its sovereign
status and not flinch from [its position of] one
country on each side of the Taiwan Strait; in the
economic aspect, [Taiwan] should invest in the island
first and should stop the suicidal policy of effective
opening; and [finally], [the government] should
accelerate its pace in strengthening a consensus among
the Taiwan people to push for the efforts of turning
Taiwan into a normal country by rectifying its name and
writing itself a new constitution. ."
B) "Going Slow Is the Right Move"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] asserted (10/9):
"During an interview with the Reuters news agency
published on Friday, President Chen Shui-bian said that
there was no need to rush cross-strait talks. Chen
said he wanted to `strive for delays while not fearing
talks' - which was a clever turn of Beijing's earlier
phrase about `striving for talks while not fearing
delays.' The slight change in wording clearly shows
how the two sides of the Taiwan Strait differ in terms
of their priorities on cross-strait relations. .
"The truth of the matter is Chen was simply being
polite and tactful in his interview. What he should
have done was cut through the word games and clearly
say there would be no talks unless there were no
strings attached. ."
C) "Who Exactly `Fears No Delays,' Taiwan or Mainland
The conservative, pro-unification "United Daily News"
[circulation: 400,000] wrote in an editorial (10/11):
"Chen Shui-bian has said more than once that his
current cross-Strait strategy is to `get ready to talks
while not fearing delays.' During a recent interview
with Reuters, he again modified his statement into:
`striving for delays while not fearing talks.' But
since Chen denies the [presence of] the `1992
Consensus,' there seems no possibility for `talks.' As
a result, there is nothing left in his cross-Strait
strategy except for the word `delays'!
"The word `delay,' however, is exactly the focus of
Beijing's current cross-Strait strategy. When [Chinese
President] Hu Jintao said [Beijing] `strives to talk,
is prepared to fight while not fearing delays,' what he
meant was that he is ready to move toward the three
[afore-mentioned] directions simultaneously. But it
seems now that [cross-Strait] talks are uncertain and
Hu has not talked about `fights' for some time, and the
only [direction left of] `not fearing talks' has become
`must delay.' Exactly who is not afraid of `delays'
and who will `delay' until the other cannot stand it
any more, Hu or Chen, mainland China or Taiwan? This
is an old question: On which side does time stand?
"Over the past few years, ever since Chen got elected
for his second term, big changes have occurred with
regard to Washington-Taipei relations and cross-Strait
relations. The new situation is that Beijing has
determined to deal with the Taiwan issue by `delaying
it'; namely, the problem will be resolved naturally and
no military forces will be necessary when it is delayed
until the time that Taiwan is at the end of its rope.
Chen's `striving for delays,' without doubt, echoes
that Beijing's plan and is just what Hu hopes for.
Both the ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan,
however, must pay attention to the crisis of `delays';
[they must realize that] Taiwan cannot afford to delay!
"Beijing's discourse has also changed when it comes to
Washington-Taipei ties. Beijing said in the past that
`Washington should not interfere with China's domestic
affairs,' but now it says `China and the United States
can co-manage security in the Taiwan Strait.' . This
new discourse can not only resolve the conflicts
between Washington and Beijing but can also force
Washington to work with Beijing to maintain the
birdcage [of the `Anti-Secession Law.] Washington and
Beijing may have different views about the form of the
birdcage, but basically they share the same position
regarding the substantive effect of locking Taiwan
inside the birdcage. This is because `maintaining the
status quo' is in the common interests of Washington
and Beijing; even though the two might differ in their
motives and objectives, they can still form a consensus
on `co-management. .'"
D) "U.S. `Stake' in `One China'"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" [circulation: 30,000] editorialized
"Taiwan's continued survival as it is now - prosperous,
democratic and beyond jurisdiction of the PRC, but not
an independent state - depends solely on America's
resolve to maintain the status quo. And China is the
only force that is ready to disrupt the status quo if
Taiwan formally rejects its universally defined status
as `part of China.'
"Now, Washington appears ready to groom Beijing to be a
`stakeholder' in managing global affairs, including the
Taiwan issue. .
"On the eve of the 56th founding anniversary of the
People's Republic of China on Oct. 1, the Bush
administration laid out its most detailed assessment to
date of American-Chinese ties. In an unusual
forthright speech on Sept. 21 in New York to the
National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, Robert
Zoellick, the U.S. deputy secretary of state,
explicitly called for China to collaborate with the
U.S. on economic matters, embrace democratic government
and play a more responsible role in the international
"Although differences between Washington and Beijing
are not new, Zoellick's speech could be seen as a broad
agenda for the strategic dialogue that he has been
assigned to lead for the Bush administration. His
mission is to alleviate Beijing's deep-seated mistrust
of Washington. . Zoellick's speech, while
condescending and patronizing at times, reflects
Washington's realization that it couldn't achieve peace
unilaterally even if it could start wars that way.
Without China's help, the U.S. has little chance to
curb North Korea's nuclear-arms ambition or rally the
U.N. behind its cause. China, though not yet an ally,
is an indispensable contributor to advancing U.S.
policies in the world.
"By calling on China to be a responsible stakeholder,
Zoellick has tacitly claimed a U.S. `stake' in
Beijing's `one China' principle. Peaceful status quo
or better cross-strait ties through dialogue is the
common goal. Like the U.S., Taiwan should cooperate
with the emerging China of today, and work for the
democratic China tomorrow."
E) "US Should Support Full Sovereignty for Taiwan"
DPP Legislator Lin Cho-shui commented in the pro-
independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (10/8):
". The military budget is always a large part of a
national budget. The only goal of spending such
staggering amounts of money on expensive military
equipment is to protect national sovereignty. If we
agree with this goal, then it is rather odd that the US
does not want to acknowledge that Taiwan is a sovereign
state, while at the same time it asks Taiwan to
purchase extremely expensive weapons. In fact, the US
stance on this matter has seriously jeopardized
Taiwan's national security.
"The logic is that it only pays to spend so much money
on weapons if they can be sued to protect our
sovereignty. But if the nation is deprived of its
sovereignty, what would be the point of spending so
much? Those who firmly believe that Taiwan is a
sovereign state will of course feel that Taiwan has to
be well-equipped militarily. However, as the US does
not acknowledge our sovereignty, it is hardly
surprising to see that many are giving up on the US and
are opposing the arms procurement bill. .
"Adopting a `one China' policy and refusing to
acknowledge Taiwan as a sovereign state has been the
US' policy for over three decades. Based on its
military expertise, the Pentagon believes Taiwanese
have a strong civic awareness, while its slowly
changing political policies cause the State Department
to oppose that civic awareness.
"In this case, we are undoubtedly witnessing a deep
contradiction in the US' Taiwan policy. Unless it is
resolved, Taiwan will not be able to purchase the
weapons it needs. And not only that, warns Steve
Chabot, chairman of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus,
the US' unwillingness to support full sovereignty is
tantamount to agreeing that China owns it. This
encourages Beijing to pursue unification by force, and
imperils regional security. The US should take a hard
look at these contradictions and deal with them."
2. Avian Flu
"Don't Forget Taiwan"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" [circulation: 30,000] commented in an
"On Friday, representatives and experts from 80
countries and international health organizations
gathered in Washington D.C. for a two-day conference
aimed at working out a common strategy for battling a
widely expected outbreak of avian flu virus. . The
U.S.-led effort to coordinate a response before
disaster strikes is a very wise idea that should be
commended by all nations. .
"While we are glad to see substantial action being
taken to cope with this potential threat to world
health, we would also like to remind the international
community that Taiwan's lack of participation in
international health organizations poses a threat to
the success of this coordination effort. .
"Now that the world is trying to learn from the lessons
of the SARS crisis, we hope that the WHO and other
international health organizations will see the urgent
need for Taiwan to be brought into the loop. If the
WHO and other organizations fail to change this
mistaken policy, we will see Taiwan become a weak link
in the chain of international control and our citizens
will inevitably suffer. We think that no matter what
kinds of claims Beijing thinks it has over our
territory and population, there is absolutely no
justification for political disputes to directly harm
the public health of the Taiwan people. ."