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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Recall of President Chen Shui-Bian


DE RUEHIN #2216/01 1782154
R 272154Z JUN 06





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Summary: All major Chinese-language Taiwan dailies gave
significant reporting and editorial coverage to the Legislative
Yuan's (LY) vote on the presidential recall motion June 27, and on
possible conflicts between pan-Blue and pan-Green supporters outside
the Legislative Yuan. All papers front-paged the recall vote, and
the pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, ran a
banner headline on page two that said "Bian: Will Respect Result of
Recall Vote." The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" carried results of
its latest poll on page two, which showed that 67.59 percent of
those polled said they hope that the Legislative Yuan will pass the
presidential recall, while 66.51 percent of respondents said they
don't think the bill will be passed.

2. Almost all papers editorialized on the presidential recall vote
today. The "Free Talk" column in the "Liberty Times" said the major
battlefield in the Blue and Green confrontation today is not in the
Legislative Yuan but on the streets, and that the side that can
remain calm, exercise restraint, and bring peace and order to the
people will be the final winner. An editorial in the
limited-circulation, pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" said the recall motion is actually part of a "long war" in
the runup to the 2008 presidential election. An "Apple Daily"
opinion piece said that even though Washington said it will respect
the results of today's recall vote, it may not be happy to see the
recall passed and a referendum to oust Chen held. An editorial in
the pro-status quo "China Times" said no matter what the results of
the presidential recall vote may be, it will leave an important
record in Taiwan's constitutional history. An editorial in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" blasted the DPP for defending
Chen and his corrupt practices, saying the impression the DPP will
leave to Taiwan's society is that it shelters corruption. End

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A) "The Real Winner"

The "Free Talk" column in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
[circulation: 600,000] noted (6/27):

"... In fact, during a political uproar, an overwhelming majority of
people does not want to see any conflicts; they are also very tired
of the political clamor. As a result, as long as any side is
willing to yield without using abusive language, it will definitely
win the recognition of a majority of the people. The major
battlefield for the Blue and Green confrontation today is thus not
in the Legislative Yuan, but on the streets. The side that can
remain calm, exercise restraint, and bring peace and order to the
people will be the final winner."

B) "Recall Bid Harming the Pan-Blues"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (6/27):

"The weeks of pan-blue campaigning against President Chen Shui-bian
will come to a head today when the legislature votes on the motion
to recall him. The fact that the bid was doomed from the beginning
doesn't seem to have prevented the pan-blues from continuing with
their campaign, oblivious that their actions may actually be causing
more damage to Taiwan's reputation than that supposedly caused by
the president and his administration. ...

"This latest bid to oust the president and harm the pan-green camp's
image can be construed as part of a 'long war' in the runup to the
2008 presidential election. The opposition has placed so much
importance on winning back the presidency that the Taiwanese public
is in for a long and arduous media crusade against all things green
over the next 18 months or so. But will this campaign really serve
the best interest of the opposition? ..."

C) "Impact of Recall Motion on U.S.-Taiwan Relations"

Cross-Strait Interflow Prospect Foundation Vice President Raymond Wu
opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 500,000]

"... The United States always believes that confrontation between
the ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan is a 'manageable
dispute' which will not lead to continued unrest or fierce
conflicts. ... Washington is thus by no means happy to see that
Taiwan's political turmoil will impact the U.S.'s national
interests. In particular, following the 'cessation of the National
Unification Council' early this year, the unpleasant twists and
bumps undergone in U.S.-Taiwan relations have made both sides want
to 'recuperate' for a while and prevent any more surprises or
conflicts. The changes that might be triggered by Taiwan's
political upheavals, especially Beijing's reactions to these
changes, always have been a major concern for Washington. At the
current stage, the United States is definitely not happy to see any
surprise moves or situations that might occur with regard to
'maintaining the status quo,' which would create more trouble for
the United States on top of the crises in Iran, Iraq and North
Korea. ...

"Given its expectations that the recall controversy will come to an
end as early as possible, Washington will respect the result of the
Legislative Yuan's vote today. But it might not be happy to see the
recall motion move into the next stage - the referendum. On the
other hand, even though one cannot be sure if the U.S. government
'will support President Chen to finish his term of office,'
Washington definitely does not want to see lasting instability in
Taiwan's political situation affecting the U.S. interests, or even
give Beijing an excuse or opportunity to directly intervene in
Taiwan's politics.

"In the meantime, in order to avoid any disputes between the two
sides of the Taiwan Strait, the United States also hopes that,
having undergone the impact of the recall motion, the DPP government
will have lost its original momentum in continuing to push for its
constitutional reform plan that includes sensitive issues concerning
Taiwan's national flag, national title, and territory. Washington
hopes that with the recall motion coming to an end, these highly
controversial issues will no longer be brought up by 2008, and will
not create any tension or even conflicts in cross-Strait relations
or Washington-Beijing-Taipei interactions. ..."

D) "Re-read the President's Inaugural Pledge on the Day of Recall

The pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (6/27):

"The Legislative Yuan will vote on the presidential recall motion
Tuesday. No matter what the result may be, it will leave an
important record in Taiwan's constitutional history. For those who
either urged the President to step down on his own accord, asked the
Legislative Yuan to launch a recall motion, or called for a popular
vote to force the President to step down, they all face the doubts
of the President and his supporters: Namely, what is their
constitutional legitimacy in ousting the President? If there is no
constitutional legitimacy to demand that the President step down,
what [the pan-Blue camp has been doing] will be viewed as political
struggle, strife that only cares about Blue or Green but does not
tell right from wrong. When Ma Ying-jeou went to Kaohsiung for a
rally challenging Chen the other day, he directly pointed out that
the legitimate reason backing the pan-Blue camp's move to oust the
President is that the President's behavior has violated what his
people have entrusted to him, and thus has violated the pledge he
made in accordance with the Constitution when he was inaugurated.

E) "An Influential Criminal of Black and Gold [Politics], a Sinner
of Taiwan Independence"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (6/27):

"... In the face of the recall motion, the DPP could have reasoned
with itself that the two-thirds high threshold stipulated by the
Constitution [for passing the recall motion] is there to provide
room for the DPP to reflect on itself and to reform, and for Chen to
confess and repent his sins. If Chen sincerely confesses and
repents his sins to the DPP and to all the people, the DPP can give
him an opportunity by using the two-thirds threshold to oppose the
recall motion. But the DPP got itself into trouble by its schemes;
it even defended Chen's corrupt practices and stained 'nativism.'
The DPP not only failed to ask Chen to repent but chose to stand by
his side, making the whole party Chen's accomplice. The impression
that the DPP gave to society is: The DPP shelters corruption, the
'nativists' shelter corruption, and even Taiwan independence
shelters corruption! ..."


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