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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations, Avian Flu

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: Major Chinese-language Taipei dailies focused
their coverage November 8 on the arrest of a famous poet who
threatened Premier Frank Hsieh by phone last week, local
scandals, and Taiwan's financial assistance to Senegal,
which severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in late October.
Almost all newspapers also reported in their inside pages
the pan-Blue legislators' move at a joint meeting of the
Legislative Yuan's National Defense Committee and Budget
Committee Monday to cut the Taiwan Defense Ministry's NT$272
million budget for the preparatory spending of the U.S. arms
procurement bill.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in
the pro-independence "Liberty Times" criticized the DPP
government's "effective management, proactive opening"
policy with regard to Taiwan's investments in China. The
article urged the DPP administration not to make a big
mistake at this critical moment and let China dominate
Taiwan's cross-Strait policy. An editorial in the limited-
circulation, conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" discussed Taiwan's plan to prevent the possible
outbreak of avian flu. End summary.

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1. Cross-Strait Relations

"Do Not Make a Big Historic Mistake at This Critical Moment"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
asserted in an editorial (11/8):

". Ever since [Chinese President] Hu Jintao came into power,
he has been pushing even harder and becoming more insistent
on the one China principle while, at the same time, [playing
the game of] `acting more softly with regard to soft
matters.' The united-front approach [by Beijing] is by no
means a good-will gesture to Taiwan; instead, it is a
skillful two-pronged strategy to launch an attack against
Taiwan from different directions.

"China is attempting to take away the power of the Taiwan
government by not dealing directly with the island's elected
government. China has avoided holding talks with our
government on an equal footing with regard to issues such as
[cross-Strait] chartered flights for the Chinese New Year
and zero tariffs for imported Taiwanese agricultural
products; instead, it has gone directly to Taiwan's private
sector and opposition parties. China's aim has been nothing
but to belittle Taiwan's sovereign state and force Taiwan to
accept this reality. The pace of the Taiwan government's
cross-Strait policy, in the meantime, seems to be dominated
by China, too. The fact that Taiwan's cross-Strait policy
is controlled by China is by no means favorable to Taiwan. .

"According to observations by this newspaper, our government
has actively opened [Taiwan's investments in China] to an
extent that it seems it has placed no restriction whatsoever
[on such investments]. Although this development was
partially due to the push of pro-China forces [on the
island], still, it takes two to tango. If our government
did not want to speculate and take advantage of [China's
blossoming market], mistakenly thinking that this is a way
to improve Taiwan's economic situation, how would Taiwan
have ended up losing all its capital and firms? If our
authorities had not dreamed of meeting Hu Jintao, how would
it have allowed [former KMT Chairman] Lien Chan and [PFP
Chairman] James Soong to go to China to join hands with the
Chinese Communist Party in restraining Taiwan and thereby
introducing China's influence into the political competition
in Taiwan? Moreover, if our government had not insisted on
opening [Taiwan's investment in China], how would the pan-
Blue people and pro-unification media outlets have used the
so-called alleviated cross-Strait situation as an excuse for
blocking the special arms procurement [from the United
States]? ."

2. Avian Flu

"Heed Alarms of Killer Flu"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China
Post" [circulation: 30,000] said in an editorial (11/8):

". Taiwan plans to spend NT$30 billion (US$890 million) to
cope with a possible outbreak [of avian flu], which could
infect 5.3 million people in the island, send 70,000 people
to hospital and kill about 14,000 of them. And it has
succeeded in developing is own anti-bird flu drug and will
begin mass-production of Tamiflu (oseltamivir), the most
effective treatment so far, in December, well before the
anticipated eruption next spring. .

"So far, only Taiwan has formally asked Roche for permission
to produce the drug. If Roche refuses to sub-license
Taipei, Taipei will invoke the right of nations under
international trade treaties to break patents during health
emergencies and go ahead with the production anyway. After
all, human life is more important than patents. Tamiflu
currently costs US$60 for a course of treatment. .

"The SARS virus has killed less than 1,000 people worldwide,
not millions as had been forecast. The `swine flu' hysteria
in the U.S. in the 1970s, the anthrax threat and the 2000
`millennium bug' that was supposed to shut down the world
all turned out to be false alarms. Alarms are annoying.
But better be annoyed than harmed."


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