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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations

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 004980

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: CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS

1. Summary: Major Chinese-language Taiwan dailies focused
their coverage December 24-27 on moves by pan-Blue
legislators to reject review of the long-stalled U.S. arms
procurement bill, the meeting between KMT Legislative Yuan
President Wang Jin-pyng and PFP Chairman James Soong, the
passing away of China's Association for Relations Across the
Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Wang Daohan, and the
government's failure to meet a legal deadline to release its
holdings in key media outlets. The pro-independence
"Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, ran a banner
headline on its front page December 24 that read: "[U.S.]
Arms Procurement Bill Now Back to Its Starting Point; Bian:
the Question Lies in National Identity." The newspaper also
quoted an anonymous U.S. official on its page three as
saying the United States hopes to see the pan-Blue camp
propose feasible alternatives as to how Taiwan will
strengthen its national defense capabilities. The "Liberty
Times" carried a news story on its page four December 27
that quoted a senior Taiwan official as saying it will be
more difficult for Taiwan to purchase the items listed in
the U.S. arms procurement bill if Taiwan does not make the
decision to procure them by 2008. The newspaper also
reported that President Chen Shui-bian will likely meet with
KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou in February 2006 to find a
solution for the stalled arms procurement bill.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in
the centrist "China Times" discussed the death of ARATS
Chairman Wang Daohan and cross-Strait relations; the
editorial said President Chen Shui-bian has basically handed
in a blank examination paper with regard to cross-Strait
policy over the past five years and cross-Strait relations
have now embarked on a whole new period of adjustments.
National Taiwan University Professor Chu Yun-han said in a
separate commentary in the "China Times" that "the doubts of
Taiwan's mainstream public view toward the legitimacy and
necessity of the [U.S.] arms procurements reveals that
opinion leaders in Taiwan's private sector have begun to
sense that even the United States has yet to uncover its
best strategy in the face of the rise of China." End
summary.

A) "A Few Strokes in Memory of the Passing Era of C.F. Koo
and Wang Daohan"

The centrist, pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation:
400,000] editorialized (12/26):

"China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait
(ARATS) Chairman Wang Daohan passed away last Saturday
within less than a year of the death of the former chairman
of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation, C. F. Koo. Wang's
death symbolizes the end of an era in which cross-Strait
relations were marked by meetings between Koo and Wang.
Cross-Strait relations have now embarked on a whole new
period of adjustments, along with changes in the situation
inside Taiwan and China, respectively. .

"Over the past five years, since the DPP came into power,
Taiwan's cross-Strait policy has tended to focus more on
preaching rather than on practicing. President Chen
forecasted from time to time that both sides of the Taiwan
Strait would soon start the Three Links and that he wanted
to invite Beijing's leaders to come to Taiwan for a drink;
he also constantly extended olive branches [to Beijing]
during addresses he made on traditional Chinese holidays.
But then again, he would make [provocative] remarks such as
calling for the writing of a new constitution or initiating
a referendum for Taiwan [that would] get on Beijing's
nerves; the language he used during [political] campaigns
could be even more provocative. As a result, the cross-
Strait impasse remained unchanged over time, and the Taiwan
people started to think that it would be good news so long
as cross-Strait relations did not deteriorate. No matter
whether President Chen and the DPP want to admit it,
Taiwan's ruling party has in fact handed in a blank
examination paper with regard to its cross-Strait policy
over the past five years.

"The truth is that over the past few years, cross-Strait
relations have been cool in the public sector but heating up
in the private sector. The ruling party has remained
motionless while opposition parties have been eagerly
seeking to build new platforms for dialogue. The DPP did
almost nothing [to improve cross-Strait relations] except
for putting on the brakes. . Given the fact that Taiwan's
opposition leaders' visits to China [last summer] have
successfully shaped the `win-win discourse' of peace and
reconciliation to have it become Taiwan's mainstream public
view, [the DPP's] label of `selling out Taiwan' has
gradually lost its effectiveness, as evidenced in the rising
reputation for the KMT. . It is thus no wonder that many
critics no longer anticipate that Chen will be able to break
the cross-Strait-relations deadlock during his remaining
time in office. ."

B) "Getting Through a Critical Period"

Chu Yun-han, professor of political science at National
Taiwan University, noted in the "Weekly Commentary" column
of the centrist, pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation:
400,000] (12/26):

"Also during the past six years, a new thirst has been
growing inside Taiwan, the strong desire that Taiwan could
break away from its predicament and come out new and
improved. Local intellectuals and the private sector have
started to fear less the examination of `political
correctness,' [and have] begun to locate again their ability
to judge and imagine. As a result, a new thinking with
regard to cross-Straits relations and Taiwan's future has
begun to bud. The doubts of Taiwan's mainstream public view
toward the legitimacy and necessity of the [U.S.] arms
procurements revealed that opinion leaders in Taiwan's
private sector began to sense that even the United States
has yet to uncover its best strategy in the face of China's
rise. [They also saw that] Washington's China policy will
continue to swing between the two extremes of engagement and
containment and that as a result, Washington can only put
Taiwan in a state of strategic suspension, blocking Taiwan
the opportunities to find a better way out. The new
thinking now being developed [in Taiwan] called upon the
island to try to get rid of its puppet role and not to play
the game according to the strategic schemes of any side.
All the more, there is no need for Taiwan to become the rope
that sustains pressure from all sides in the strategic tug
of war between the United States, Japan and China.

"In the wake of Taiwan opposition leaders' visits to China,
not only the fighting inside the pan-Blue camp about which
route it should take has evidently subdued, but there are
also mounting voices inside the pan-Green camp calling for a
more pragmatic attitude in dealing with cross-Strait
relations. The pragmatists inside the pan-Green camp have
come to realize that only when President Chen takes the
initiative in pushing for cross-Strait economic and trade
normalization during his remaining term of office can the
DPP avoid a possible major defeat in the Legislative Yuan
elections slated for the end of 2007 and thus give itself a
chance to fight in the [2008] presidential election. If
[Chen or DPP fail to do so,] they might have to hand over
their administration authority at the end of 2007 and let
the pan-Blue camp harvest the political fruit of three links
after the 2008 election. ."

PAAL

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