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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Political Situation

VZCZCXYZ0008
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2469/01 2020905
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210905Z JUL 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1205
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5446
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6651

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002469

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: TAIWAN'S POLITICAL SITUATION


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage July 21 on the decision by the Taipei District Court
Thursday to continue President Chen Shui-bian's son-in-law's release
on a higher bail of NT$17 million; the detention of Vice Minister of
Interior Yen Wan-chin for alleged involvement in a corruption case;
the Financial Supervisory Committee's penalties on a local financial
holding company; First Lady Wu Shu-chen's alleged involvement in the
Presidential Office's allowance for state affairs; and the Han Kuang
No. 22 military exercise. Former Senior Advisor to the President
Koo Kuan-min posted a half-page advertisement in several major
Chinese-language papers Thursday, saying President Chen should stay
on in his position, and calling on DPP members and pro-Green
scholars to give Chen another six months to carry out his previous
promises to the Taiwan people.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, urged the
Executive Yuan not to repeat its mistakes in opening cross-Strait
trade and investment. Three local English-language papers
editorialized on the current predicament facing President Chen and
the DPP. Editorials in the limited-circulation, pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" and "Taiwan News" both said Chen
should not step down, but should complete the four-year mandate he
received 2004. An editorial in the limited-circulation,
conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post,"
however, suggested that the DPP bravely face Chen and the party's
political crisis and "show Chen the door." End summary.

A) "Executive Yuan Must Not Become a Historical Sinner That Loses
Taiwan's Lifeline for Good"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized (7/21):

"... As the key sponsor of the Sustainable Economic Development
Conference, a clear line that the Executive Yuan must grasp in
particular is the fact that cross-Strait relations are an important
part of the island's national security, which is under the
president's powers, as stipulated in the Constitution. This
authority is different from the party and governing powers President
Chen said he would relinquish in late May. To put it plainly, it is
always the president who decides on policies related to cross-Strait
relations, and the Executive Yuan is simply the government agency
that implements the policies. ...

"The Sustainable Economic Development Conference's focus on
cross-Strait relations should thus be placed on adopting proactive
moves to improve the island's current economic status, which leans
heavily towards China. In particular, the government must not
repeat the mistakes it made in the previous Economic Development
Advisory Conference. Five years ago, the ruling authorities
abandoned the 'No Haste, Be Patient' policy on cross-Strait trade
and economics, and replaced it with an ambiguous slogan of
'Proactive Opening, Effective Management.' With some implementation
errors, the government actually paid attention to the 'proactive
opening' part only, which led to the undesirable consequences of
having Taiwan's economy rely heavily on China. The Executive Yuan
must not repeat its mistakes, or it will become a historical sinner
that loses Taiwan's lifeline for good."

B) "Some Advice for Chen Shui-bian"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (7/21):

"President Chen Shui-bian is probably under more pressure now than
at any other time in his life, with serious personal problems at
home and mounting stresses in his job. ... But it is in the worst
of times that true leadership comes to the fore. It is now that the
president should stand up and commit himself to the job at hand,
making full use of his last 18 months in office. It is no time to
turn back - the legacy of the Chen administration depends on taking
the initiative and looking forward. ...

"Other than talking less and pushing his family to the background,
the policy areas the president could address with some urgency
include: pushing ahead with the proposed statute on stolen party
assets, speeding up the next stage of financial reform, selling off
the government's multitude of state-owned enterprises, bringing the
Lafayette frigate scandal to a close and ensuring the opening of the
high-speed rail system. Indeed, the list of things to do is long
and behind schedule. Chen still holds the nation's top job. He
should start to act like it."

C) "DPP's Task Now Is to Move Onward"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] noted in an editorial (7/21):
"The governing Democratic Progressive Party faces a decisive turning
point tomorrow with the convention of a crucial party congress, the
result of which may well determine the fate of the 20-year-old
organization and the future of Taiwan's democracy. ... For reasons
of both political responsibility and for the future of Taiwan's
democratic progress, we also oppose the resignation of President
Chen. Instead, we argue from the standpoints of political
responsibility and respect for democratic institutions, that Chen
should complete the four-year mandate which he received from the
majority of the Taiwan people on March 20, 2004. ...

"We strongly urge the DPP leadership to reaffirm the party's role
and commitment to promote the 'Taiwan road' of 'democracy, freedom,
human rights, peace, social justice and sustainability' and recall
that its base of support lies among Taiwan's ordinary people and not
among the ranks of big business, whose favorite party remains the
KMT. Last but not least, the DPP must respond to the concerns of
the vast majority of the Taiwan people and ensure that Taiwan's
economic and social development retains its autonomy, without which
our political self-determination would be difficult to defend."

D) "DPP Faces a Tough Choice"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] said in an editorial (7/21):

"... The fact is, almost every DPP member is aware now that Chen,
who used to play a key role in keeping the DPP strong and coherent,
has become a liability rather than an asset of the party. The
recent series of events surrounding him and his family have done so
much damage to the DPP that the party might be better off without
him. ... As one DPP lawmaker said after Chao Chien-ming was
indicted, this case has imposed the death penalty on the party. DPP
members, and the party's heavyweights, should bravely face the issue
that's bringing the party to its demise. They must have the courage
to show Chen the door if they want their party to survive."

YOUNG

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