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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Wto

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 Taiwan dailies focused
their coverage December 20 on local political issues such as
possible candidates for the DPP chairmanship; the suspension
of Taitung County magistrate-elect for his alleged
involvement in a corruption scandal; and KMT Chairman Ma
Ying-jeou's meeting with Legislative Yuan (LY) President
Wang Jin-pyng Monday to clear up confusion about whether
Wang would be selected to head the cabinet. Coverage also
focused on U.S. arms procurement and the treatment Taiwan
protesters received outside the WTO ministerial meetings in
Hong Kong.

With regard to U.S. arms procurement, the pro-independence
"Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, ran a banner
headline on its page six that quoted LY President Wang Jin-
pyng as saying: "Ma Refuses to Talk with Bian [Chen Shui-
bian]; Chances Remain Slim for [U.S.] Arms Procurement Bill
to Pass." The centrist "China Times," however, said on its
page four that "Under U.S. Pressure, the KMT Is Considering
Passing [the Budget for] P-3C Anti-Submarine Aircraft." The
pro-unification "United Daily News" ran an interview of a
senior U.S. official page 13 with the headline "How Taiwan
Should Allocate Its Arms Procurement Budget? U.S. Says: Not
Appropriate to Interfere," and the sub-headline added:
"Reports Saying that the United States Will No Longer
Support [Taiwan's] Special [Arms Procurement] Budget Are
`Incorrect;' [U.S. Official] `Compliments' Bian's Remarks
about Increasing [Taiwan's] Defense Budget to 3% of GDP."

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2. In terms of editorials, a "China Times" editorial
discussed a WTO interim deal reached Sunday in Hong Kong to
end farm export subsidies by 2013 and future prospects for
Taiwan's agriculture. The article challenged the Taiwan
government to say "No" to the United States with regard to
the WTO decisions on agriculture and urged Taiwan's private
sector to stand up and ally with other Asian nations to
fight against the WTO decisions. End summary.

"Will 2013 be the Sunset Year for Taiwan's Agriculture?"

The centrist, pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation:
400,000] commented in an editorial (12/20):

"The sixth WTO ministerial meeting reached a compromised
agreement recently to end all farm export subsidies by 2013.
Participants of the meeting also decided to work out a
negotiation framework by April 30 2006 to set the tone for
the `Doha round' plan to reduce tariff barriers and
subsidies concerning agricultural and industrial products.

"Taiwan's Council of Agriculture, after learning about the
news, said the decision would not have any impact on
Taiwan's agriculture as Taiwan does not provide farm export
subsidies. The social activists in Taiwan, however, have a
pessimistic view in general about the future of Taiwan's
agriculture. The question is: is there no good prospect for
Taiwan's agriculture? Not necessarily so. But the key [to
this issue] lies in whether our government is bold enough to
say `No' to the United States. If yes, there are still many
`strategic cards' that the government could use. In a
nutshell, ending all farm export subsidies is just one of
the `cards;' the real key lies in whether our government has
a long-term and comprehensive plan for Taiwan's agricultural
policy as a whole. .

"When it comes to the future of Taiwan's rural community,
[it is evident that] the survival of the island's
agricultural industry hinges on whether our government dares
to follow the examples of the United States and Europe to
implement other forms of subsidies other than farm export
subsidies. Another [feasible] way is to use [people's]
health and safety as reasons, like mainland China did, to
stop bulk imports of U.S. agricultural products into Taiwan.
But does the Taiwan government have the guts to do so?
Without doubt, it has no guts.

"Thus, what Taiwan needs most is not the government's
courage and wisdom, but the power of the private sector.
Only when the private sector has enough power and its voice
is loud enough to fight against the WTO [decisions] will our
government stop to listen to it just for the sake of getting
their votes. Then the government will have the guts to say
`No' to the United States. The private sector needs to
realize that such a goal must not be altered by a change in
Taiwan's ruling parties - a natural outcome especially when
Taiwan relies heavily on the United States for its military
security. As a result, the private sector must make its
power lasting and its voice loud enough; or even, it could
ally with other Asian nations to form a core of resistance
in Asia to change the current trends. ."


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