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Cablegate: Media Reaction: North Korea, Ma Ying-Jeou's Trip to Japan

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2353/01 1930834
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120834Z JUL 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1063
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5395
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6603

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002353

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: NORTH KOREA, MA YING-JEOU'S TRIP TO JAPAN


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies gave
significant coverage July 12 to Taipei prosecutors' secret
questioning of First Lady Wu Shu-chen Sunday concerning her alleged
role in the fight over the ownership of the Sogo Department Store;
and the release on bail of President Chen Shui-bian's son-in-law,
Chao Chien-ming, for involvement in an insider trading case. All
papers front-paged Wu's admission that she received Sogo Department
Store gift certificates from Huang Fang-yen, the First Family's
personal physician, as a gift to her grandson, but stressed that she
was unaware that these gift certificates came from people involved
in the competition for ownership of the department store. The
pro-status quo "China Times" ran an analysis on page two with the
headline "Building a Firewall, Bian Has More Battles to Fight in
Order to Secure His Presidency." The pro-unification "United Daily
News" carried the results of its latest survey, which showed that 52
percent of those polled said they do not accept the prosecutors'
decision to release President Chen's son-in-law on bail. The same
poll also found that 67 percent of respondents believe that the
prosecutors had hastily closed the case of Chao Chien-ming, and 65
percent believe prosecutors have tried deliberately to protect the
First Family.

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2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a commentary in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" said the mysterious mask covering
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il will be taken off eventually. A
commentary in the limited-circulation, conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" discussed China's
influence on North Korea, adding that it is very important for
Beijing to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table. A
separate "Apple Daily" commentary discussed KMT Chairman Ma
Ying-jeou's trip to Japan, calling it a journey of re-acquaintance
for Ma. End summary.

3. North Korea

A) "Behind the Mysterious Mask of Kim Jong-il"
"Apple Daily" President James Tu noted in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" circulation: 500,000 (7/12):

"... The North Korean regime is a living fossil that has survived
Communist authoritarianism, and Kim Jong-il's mysticism is an
inseparable part of this regime. Regardless of Kim's personal
style, the top goal of Kim's regime is nothing but to secure his
survival. It's just that in an era of globalization, it will be
very difficult for the 'independent' line adopted by Kim's regime to
find itself a successor. Some people predict that North Korea will
eventually collapse, while some believe that Kim will, despite all
difficulties, adopt a route of Chinese reform and opening. No
matter which way Pyongyang will take, Kim's mysterious and puzzling
mask will be taken off eventually."

B) "China's Influence Limited in North Korea"

Columnist Frank Ching commented in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" circulation: 30,000
(7/12):
"... Actually, the North Korean missile tests show just how limited
Chinese influence is. Premier Wen Jiabao had publicly warned
against proceeding with the tests, but he was snubbed by North
Korea. The failure of North Korea's Taepodong-2 intercontinental
ballistic missile to remain in the air for more than 42 seconds
shows that the country is far from being a military threat to the
United States. Kim Jong-il threats of 'all-out war' are nothing but
bluster and Washington should not feel a need to react to them. ...

"Indeed, Chinese and American interests, just like Chinese and North
Korean interests, are not identical. While some in Washington would
like to see North Korea collapse and be absorbed by South Korea,
Beijing wants to prop up the Kim Jong-il regime, which acts as a
buffer between it and American troops based in South Korea. ...
What both China and the United States have to keep in mind is their
common objective: a non-nuclear Korean peninsula. Realization of
this objective requires North Korea's presence at the negotiation
table. ...

"The Chinese are now floating the idea of an 'informal' session of
the six-party talks in an attempt to get North Korea to participate
without seemingly violating its own precondition. The United States
has agreed to meet North Korea bilaterally in the context of such a
session. One key goal of the Hui mission to Pyongyang must be to
coax North Korea to take part in such a session. If this mission is
successful, it would suggest that China can continue to juggle its
dual role both as North Korea's ally and as America's partner in the
attempt to defuse the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula. It
would also suggest that the diplomatic route still offers hope of a
solution."
4. Ma Ying-jeou's Trip to Japan

"Ma Ying-jeou's New Perception of Japan"

Columnist Antonio Chiang noted in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 500,000] (7/12):

"... Taiwan is an island, which relies heavily on mainland China in
terms of economic relations. But in the meantime, China is also the
biggest threat to Taiwan's existence. Judged from the political
perspective, Taiwan must try its best to improve cross-Strait
relations, but when it comes to the island's national security, it
has to hold on tight to the U.S.-Japan alliance. Taiwan can be
either pro-China, pro-U.S., or pro-Japan; it can neither stay
neutral nor play the role of a balancer. This is international
reality, and Taiwan must make a choice.

"Ma Ying-jeou tends to be anti-Japan, but luckily, he is not an
ideologically-oriented person. Ma's visit to Japan this time is a
trip of re-acquaintance. He does not have to know everything about
Japan, nor does he have to be pro-Japan. He can make a right choice
as long as he has a profound understanding of Taiwan's interests and
its national security. ..."

YOUNG

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