Cablegate: Media Reaction: Rumsfeld's Trip to China

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: The second part of a TV interview with
President Chen Shui-bian, which was aired Monday
evening, carried the front-page headlines in most major
Chinese-language Taipei dailies October 18. (The first
part of the interview was broadcast on Sunday night.)
Almost all major Taipei newspapers reported on their
front pages Chen's remarks in the interview claiming
that he can provide evidence to prove that People First
Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong had a secret meeting
with Chen Yunlin, the director of China's Taiwan
Affairs Office, during a trip to the United States
earlier this year, in which Soong promised opposition
to Taiwan's arms procurements from the United States in
exchange for Beijing's nod on his China tour.
According to the news reports, Soong soon refuted
Chen's accusation and demanded a public apology from

The pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest
daily, also carried on page two Chen's remarks in the
interview with regard to his appointment of Legislative
Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng to attend the APEC summit
with the headline: "Bian: China Is Worried That Wang's
Rise Will Affect [Taipei Mayor] Ma [Ying-jeou's Plan]
to Run in the [2008] Presidential Elections." The pro-
unification "United Daily News," on the other hand, ran
an inclusive interview in its inside page with U.S.
Pacific Command Chief Admiral William Fallon, which was
topped with the headline: "Fallon: Taiwan Should Be
Prepared for Beijing's Attacks." The sub-headline
added: "The Pacific Command Will Continue to Satisfy
the Requirements [Stipulated in] the Taiwan Relations
Act and Defend Taiwan When the U.S. President Orders It
to Do So, But Taiwan Itself Also Needs to Have
Effective Defense Capabilities."

2. Several newspapers editorialized on Chen's remarks
made during his interview with Sanlih TV. Columnist
Antonio Chiang commented on U.S. Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld's current visit to China in the mass-
circulation "Apple Daily." Chiang said Rumsfeld's trip
will heat up Washington-Beijing ties, but in the
meantime, it also indicated that the United States'
attempt to stabilize its Asian policy will remain
relatively the same. An editorial in the limited-
circulation, conservative, pro-unification, English-
language "China Post" said Rumsfeld's visit is long
overdue and hopefully will help to restore some trust
and momentum to the U.S.-China military and strategic
relationship. End summary.

A) "The United States Wants a Soft Landing on China"

Columnist Antonio Chiang commented in the mass-
circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 570,000]

"U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has many
times criticized China's military expansion in public,
arrives in Beijing today for his first official visit.
Rumsfeld's trip will heat up Washington-Beijing ties,
but in the meantime, it also indicated that the United
States' attempt to stabilize its Asian policy will
remain more or less the same. .

"As a matter of fact, the Bush administration is now
putting a majority of its energy and efforts on Middle
East issues because the area ranging from the Middle
East to Central Asia and from South Asia to Iran has
long-term strategic interests for the Americans,
whether it is with regard to oil, the war on terrorism
or nuclear proliferation.

"Subtle changes have occurred in the Middle East region
recently, which have thus produced a strong impact on
the ties between Israel and Palestine and politics of
those countries like Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi
Arabia. U.S. President George W. Bush believes that
his Mideast policy has harvested good results, but
evidently only a few people agree with him.
Nevertheless, once the United States sets foot in this
area, it will only be dragged deeper and will not be
able to get away easily in a short period of time.

"Bush has put the United States' strategic focus as
well as history's evaluation of him in the Middle East;
he can hardly divert his attention to issues in Asia
and can only seek a `soft landing' in the region via
micro adjustment. Even though Rumsfeld is well-versed
in the China threat, he still needs to adjust his
attitude toward China for the sake of U.S. strategic
interests because China now plays a key role in the
United States' plan of soft landing in Asia. ."

B) "Reluctant Rumsfeld in PRC"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" [circulation: 30,000] editorialized

". The Beijing trip [by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld] is a must and can't be further delayed.
China's recent effort at Westernization, particularly
in supporting the U.S.-led anti-terror war and curbing
North Korea's nuclear ambition, have been helpful and
gratifying. The rising China is not a fundamental
rival like the former Soviet Union but a vital
`stakeholder' in advancing America's global agenda.

"The Pentagon hoped the visit could contribute to
improving a military-to-military relationship that
fractured in April 2001 with the midair collision of a
Chinese fighter and an American surveillance plane over
China's southern coast. Ship visits and officer
exchanges have resumed since then, but slowly.

"On the other hand, Beijing seeks to demonstrate, by
hosting a Bush administration hardliner, that
Washington is not shunning China as a looming military
foe, and that China is not a security threat or a
strategic competitor to the U.S. .

"Rumsfeld's visit is long overdue, and hopefully will
help to restore some trust and momentum to the U.S.-
China military and strategic relationship. Yet the
depth of distrust and misperceptions in both military
establishments toward the other is palpable and not
easily overcome.

"For Taiwan, Rumsfeld's visit is a welcome change of
approach for the Bush administration. With China as a
`responsible stakeholder' in managing global affairs,
Washington is better posed to maintain the peaceful
Taiwan status quo."


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