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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 SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 004950

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 (12/22)
focused on the Taipei District Court's verdict that
President Chen Shui-bian must compensate former KMT Chairman
Lien and PFP Chairman James Soong in the "soft coup" case
with a payment of NT$1 each and issue public apologies
through advertisements in local newspapers.

The editorials and commentaries (12/22) still focus on the
U.S. arms procurement bill. The pro-independence "Liberty
Times" said in its editorial that KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou
should help pass the U.S. arms procurement bill in the
Legislative Yuan, because he might possibly be Taiwan's
president in 2008 and that one of the president's
responsibility is to protect the safety of the citizens.
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
editorialized that it is time for Chairman Ma to show his
sincerity regarding the protection of Taiwan security
through rational discussions of the bill. Taiwan Think
Tank's analyst Lai I-chung wrote in the pro-independence,
limited-circulated "Taiwan Daily" that the United States
considers Taiwan `unreliable' due to the delayed passage of
the bill. End summary.

2. "The U.S. Arms Procurement Bill is the First Challenge
that [KMT Chairman] Ma Ying-jeou Faces Before Running for
the 2008 Presidential Elections"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized that (12/22):

". To be fair, after Ma Ying-jeou became the KMT chairman,
one of the expectations in the society was that Ma should
abandon the [KMT's] confrontational position but carry out
negotiation and cooperation between the ruling party and
opposition parties based on the idea of `Taiwan First' and
the welfare of 23 million Taiwan people. The possibility of
delivering the U.S. arms procurement bill to the Legislative
Yuan's National Defense Committee for review is especially
considered as an important indicator of Ma's political
stance.

"In fact, we are almost completely certain that Ma will be
the only candidate representing the pan-Blue alliance in the
2008 presidential elections. In other words, Ma is one of
the few who could become Taiwan's president. Based on this
[thinking], we urge Chairman Ma not to follow the KMT's
ideology and block the bill from being delivered to the
Legislative Yuan's National Defense Committee for review.
The reason is that no matter who becomes the Taiwan
president, he/she has to be responsible for the protection
of all the [Taiwan] people. ."

3. "The Meaning of the Arms Bill"

The pro-independence "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000]
editorialized that (12/22):
"If, as [KMT Chairman] Ma Ying-jeou has often claimed, his
party supports legitimate self-defense and is against only a
"sucker's" arms purchase, then wouldn't the legislative
review provide a good opportunity for lawmakers from his
party to engage in a rational debate with their pan-green
counterparts? ."
". Regardless of whether or not this is the case, the pan-
blues' ceaseless rejection of the bill in the Procedure
Committee has drawn questions from the public and fueled
concern in Washington that Taiwan may, after all, not be
serious about its own defense.

"Without doubt, the ball is now in Ma's court. The
legislative review will provide one and all with an
opportunity to see whether Ma is sincere about Taiwan's
defense. ."

4. "`Taiwan Passing': New Concerns Looming for U.S.-Taiwan
Relations"

Lai I-chung, Director for International Affairs at the
Taiwan Think Tank wrote in the pro-independence, limited
circulated "Taiwan Daily" [circulation: 30,000] that
(12/22):

". The major damage caused by the delayed passage of the
U.S. arms procurement bill on U.S.-Taiwan relations is that
Taiwan has become an `unreliable' partner in the eyes of the
United States. . A more negative impact caused by the
`unreliability' is that Taiwan has become `irrelevant' on
U.S-Taiwan relations. It is not because the United States
does not regard highly Taiwan, but that the United States
cannot ascertain Taiwan's attitude due to Taiwan's paralyzed
democracy. Moreover, the United States considers Taiwan to
be an unmanageable factor when making strategic decisions,
and Taiwan is therefore not included in those decisions. ."

PAAL

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