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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Military Exercises in Guam, Recall Of

VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2203/01 1772202
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 262202Z JUN 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0887
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5352
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6559

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002203

SIPDIS

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

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A


TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S. MILITARY EXERCISES IN GUAM, RECALL OF
PRESIDENT CHEN SHUI-BIAN


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage June 24-26 on the pan-Blue and pan-Green camps' continued
wrestling prior to the Legislative Yuan's scheduled vote July 27 on
the presidential recall motion; Academia Sinica President Lee
Yuan-tseh's statement Sunday blasting the performance of the DPP and
calling for stability and reconciliation in Taiwan; the government's
efforts to retain control over a local financial holding company
after securing a majority of board seats last Friday; and the arrest
of an ex-convict for allegedly extorting local companies. The
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, ran a
banner headline on page two June 24 that read "'Where Should Taiwan
Be Heading in Wake of Recall Vote June 27?' Bian: Political
Negotiations Inside [Taiwan], Cross-Strait Dialogue Outside." The
pro-status quo "China Times" front-paged June 25 "In Response to
Middle-Class Expectations Following Recall Vote, KMT Returns to
Middle Course." The "Liberty Times" also quoted a senior Washington
official in a news story on page two June 25 as saying that the
United States has full confidence in Taiwan's political development.


2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial said that the 'Valiant Shield' exercise was about testing
whether Guam can be the hub of the Western Pacific theater. With
regard to the presidential recall, a separate "Liberty Times"
editorial urged both President Chen and KMT Chairman Ma to
substitute confrontation with negotiation after the recall vote. An
editorial in the limited-circulation, pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News" urged political leaders to restrain
their ambitions and safeguard local democracy. A "China Times"
editorial said safeguarding a nativist regime does not mean Taiwan
should safeguard corruption. An editorial in the pro-unification
"United Daily News" criticized President Chen's "schemes," saying
they are not being used to find a direction for Taiwan but to cover
up Chen's responsibility for the First Family's corrupt practices.
End summary.

3. U.S. Military Exercises in Guam

"Strategic Significance of U.S. Military Exercises in Guam to the
Western Pacific"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized (6/24):

"... What's more noteworthy with regard to 'Valiant Shield' is its
strategic significance. The fact that Guam was chosen as the venue
for such a large-scale military exercise, which brought together
three carrier battle groups, indicated that the U.S. military is
realigning its global military deployment and that the U.S. military
deployment center in the Western Pacific since the mid-20th century
has gradually shifted from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam. It is worth
noting that given the expanded military harbors and airfields in
Guam in recent years, at which B-1 and B-2 strategic bombers are
stationed, this exercise shows the intention to test whether Guam
will become the hub of the Western Pacific theater.

"No matter if it's the carrier battle groups or the B-1 and B-2
strategic bombers, they are basically offensive, and there must be a
hypothetical enemy in each military exercise. Even though
Washington did not specify its hypothetical enemy for the Guam
exercise, to judge from its evident offensive strategic planning,
China, which has been proactively expanding its military buildup in
the Western Pacific over the past few years, is without a doubt the
self-evident target. In the meantime, China was invited to observe
a U.S. exercise for the first time. While China emphasized that the
move highlighted that its bilateral relations with the U.S.,
including their military exchanges, have improved, Washington
claimed that military transparency will help increase other
countries' understanding. ... In fact, the United States often has
used the deterrent force demonstrated by its military transparency
to daunt its military rivals from taking rash actions. ... Even
though the Chinese leaders were not allowed to observe the whole
exercise process aboard the USS Reagan, a move indicating inadequate
mutual trust between the two sides, the United States' intention to
ask the People's Liberation Army to weigh its own capabilities is
evident enough. ..."

4. Recall of President Chen Shui-bian

A) "Bian and Ma Should Substitute Confrontation with Negotiation
after June 27"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
commented in an editorial (6/26):

"... Taiwan's political situation is corrupt, and its democratic
operation out of order. The one happiest to see this is China,
which has been coveting Taiwan's sovereignty. If the ruling and

opposition parties continue their infighting incessantly, Taiwan's
political situation will be scorched. No matter who will win in the
future, he will have nothing to gain. The public has had enough of
the recall motion and is bored with the no-confidence vote. [We]
hope that after the [recall] vote June 27, President Chen and
Chairman Ma will ponder the people's view desiring stability, and
work together to strive to heal the wounds. They should substitute
confrontation with negotiation if they attach great importance to
the public's view and democracy, shouldn't they?"

B) "Safeguarding Local Democracy"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (6/26):

"Tomorrow the opposition former ruling Kuomintang and its allied
People First Party will push for a legislature floor vote on their
motion to recall President Chen Shui-bian for the Democratic
Progressive Party, based on vague and vacuous allegations described
as the '10 major crimes.' The motion has virtually no chance of
passage since approval requires a two-thirds majority of the 221
members of the Legislative Yuan, while the KMT and PFP, even with
the support of the misnamed Non-Partisan Solidarity Uni8on, have at
most 120 seats, 28 seats short of this threshold. ...

"The pan-KMT camp cannot make a convincing case for a recall simply
by harping on the administrative failings of President Chen and the
DPP government and by ignoring the DPP's achievement and
whitewashing the hefty contribution by the boycotts of the KMT-PFP
majority to Taiwan's current woes. ... We have full confidence that
Taiwan's democratic society has the capability to overcome its
transitional challenges, but it is up to political leaders from each
camp to restrain their ambitions and respect for our democratic and
legal system and refocus attention on the urgent needs of our
people's welfare."

C) "Safeguarding a Nativist Regime Is by No Means Tantamount to
Safeguarding Corruption"

The pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (6/24):

"... As a result, let's rise above semantics and return to basics!
There is no regime that cannot be overthrown; in particular, people
cannot be disallowed to challenge or doubt a regime simply because
it is being labeled 'nativist.' Such logic itself is
'anti-democratic.' Any nativist regime can be judged, criticized,
reviewed, or even be replaced by another regime as long as it is
involved in corruption, violates its pledges to the people, and has
a poor management performance. One must not simply try to overlook
and cover up the facts, or even try to safeguard the regime simply
because it is labeled 'nativist.' ..."

D) "Chen Shui-bian's Asymmetrical Faces and His Asymmetrical Words
and Deeds"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] noted
in an editorial (6/25):

"... Over the past few years, when people saw Chen Shui-bian, he was
a president whose power was uneven with his responsibilities, and
whose discourse was not balanced with his actions. Chen can
flip-flop anytime he wants; he doesn't have to remain consistent at
all, and he does not care whether he has contradicted himself or
not. ... As a state leader, Chen has no central thoughts, and
people can hardly tell his core values. What's most pathetic is
that his contrivances, versatile schemes, and capriciousness were
not used to find a direction for Taiwan but to cover up his
responsibility for the First Family's corrupt practices and to
resolve the crises of his incompetent administration. ...

"As the scandals involving the First Family develop, what concerns
people most is actually not whether the President will step down,
but will Taiwan's political situation thus see a turning point?
However, judged from Chen's and the DPP's attitude, the people of
Taiwan must be disappointed, because Chen is still Chen, and the DPP
remains his exclusive political domain. ..."

KEEGAN

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