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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Arms Procurement Bill

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

UNCLAS TAIPEI 004930

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - ERIC
BARBORIAK
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S. ARMS PROCUREMENT BILL

1. Summary: Major Chinese-language Taiwan dailies (12/21)
focused on the unexpected passage of the U.S. arms
procurement bill in the Legislative Yuan's Procedure
Committee and former Chunghua County Magistrate Wong Chin-
chu's decision to run for DPP Chairperson. The pro-
independence "Liberty Times" ran a banner headline on its
front page that read: "The U.S. Arms Procurement Bill Came
Out of the Control of the Legislative Yuan's Procedure
Committee after 41 Attempts."

In terms of commentaries, National Taiwan University's
Professor Huang Kwan-kuo said President Chen Shui-bian's
plan to increase Taiwan's national defense budget to 3
percent of GDP means Taiwan wants "guns" but not "butter,"
adding that Chen thinks he can get the upper hand on the KMT
on this issue. Taiwan Think Tank analyst Lai I-chung urged
the pan-Blue alliance not to be afraid of discussing the
U.S. arms procurement bill in the Legislative Yuan, adding
that such discussions would allow the Taiwan people to
better understand Taiwan's national defense situation. End
summary.

2. "The [DPP-led] Arms Race [Across the Taiwan Strait] Gets
the Upper Hand on the Weak KMT"

Huang Kwan-kuo, Professor of the Department of Psychology,
National Taiwan University, wrote in the pro-unification
"United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] that (12/21):

". Among the neighboring countries in Asia, the budget for
national defense in South Korea is 2.1 percent of GDP, the
percentage for Japan is 1.2, the percentage for China is
only 0.43. The current percentage for Taiwan is 2.4, which
is higher than South Korea and Japan. If the government
wants to raise the percentage [of the budget for national
defense] to 3 percent [of GDP,] this means that [Taiwan
wants] `Guns, Not Butter.' This also means Taiwan wants to
carry out an arms race with China regardless of the fact
that an arms race will negatively impact the budget for
social welfare, education, science, and culture.

". The opposition party [the KMT] does not have a fixed
cross-Strait policy, and it could not make up its mind
regarding the issue of the U.S. arms deal. No wonder Chen
Shui-bian, who `knows how to run elections, but not the
country,' can still beat the KMT after suffering a fiasco in
the `3-in-1' elections. ."

3. "Don't be Afraid of Letting the Legislative Yuan Discuss
the U.S. Arms Procurement Bill"

Lai I-chung, Director for International Affairs at the
Taiwan Think Tank wrote in the centrist, pro-status quo
"China Times" [circulation: 400,000] that [12/21]:

". The passage of the U.S. arms procurement bill in the
Legislative Yuan's Procedure Committee does not mean that
the bill has been passed by the legislature; it means,
however, that the bill will enter the legislature's agenda
for discussion. The Taiwan people need a chance to
understand the content of the bill and what it might
involve. If the legislators cannot reach a consensus [on
the bill] through discussion and negotiation, the bill can
still be rejected by the Legislative Yuan. .

". The arguments over the U.S. arms procurement bill focus
almost entirely on the budget issue, i.e. the form of the
budget and whether the procurement price is reasonable.
Arms procurement, however, is tightly connected with [the
larger] issues of Taiwan's national defense policy and
national security strategy. .

"In fact, the United States has already said that it will
accept any outcome on the U.S. arms procurement issue
through Taiwan's democratic decision-making [mechanism].
However, as former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Randy Schriver pointed out in an open speech in Taiwan, the
U.S. cannot understand why there has been no opportunity to
discuss the bill in the Legislative Yuan. If we take a
closer look at the current bill, several changes have been
made to the content and items. Some items have been moved
to Taiwan's annual regular budget, and the scale of the
budget has also been greatly reduced. Is this not quite a
different bill worthy of discussion? ."

PAAL

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