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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan Sustainable Economic Development

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2554/01 2120126
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 310126Z JUL 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1325
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5484
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6691

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002554

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 SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
CONFERENCE, KMT CHAIRMAN MA'S TRIP TO JAPAN


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies gave
significant coverage July 28 to a Ministry of Audit report Thursday
concerning "possible irregularities" in the Presidential Office's
allowance for state affairs. News coverage also focused on the
Taiwan Sustainable Economic Development Conference, which will
conclude today; and investigation into a cable car construction
corruption case involving the vice minister of interior. The
pro-unification "United Daily News" ran a front-page banner headline
that read "Presidential Office Allegedly Involved in Illegal Use of
Allowance for State Affairs," and the front-page headline in the
pro-status quo "China Times" said "Bian's State Affairs Fund Will
Have to Be Returned and [Relevant Officials] Will Face Charges."

The "China Times" also carried the results of its latest survey on
page five, which showed that the approval rating for Premier Su
Tseng-chang, the DPP's presidential hopeful for 2008, dropped from

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SIPDIS
45 percent to 32 percent in four months. The poll also found that
if KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Su compete for presidency
in 2008, 42 percent of respondents said they would support Ma, while
18 percent said they would vote for Su. The "United Daily News," in
addition, has for the third consecutive day dedicated one or more
inside pages to Beijing's preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games.


2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, criticized
some Blue supporters and pro-China media outlets for attempting to
interpret the Taiwan Sustainable Economic Development Conference
from the perspective of political schemes and power. A "China
Times" editorial, on the other hand, questioned how long Taiwan's
economy will have to be hijacked by the Green fundamentalists. An
editorial in the limited-circulation, pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News," however, discussed KMT Chairman Ma
Ying-jeou's recent trip to Japan, saying the KMT's pro-China
mentality is the main reason for the cool reception Ma received in
Japan. End summary.

3. Taiwan Sustainable Economic Development Conference

A) "How Can Cross-Strait Trade and Economics Be Interpreted in Terms
of Political Schemes and Power?"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized (7/28):

"A noteworthy phenomenon during the controversial Taiwan Sustainable
Economic Development Conference was that when discussing
cross-Strait trade and economic policies, the side calling for
opening and more relaxation was labeled by the Blue camp as the one
adopting the Su revisionist line, while the other side that
emphasized management and tightening was tagged as Taiwan
independence fundamentalists. The former was viewed as an
aggressive attempt by Premier Su Tseng-chang to draw a line between
himself and President Chen's proactive management policy and to pave
the way for his presidential campaign in 2008. The latter, on the
other hand, was regarded as joint efforts by former President Lee
Teng-hui and Chen to attack Su from both sides, in an attempt to
consolidate the core Green supporters. This attempt to interpret
the motives for the debate over cross-Strait trade and economic
policy from the perspective of power struggles and campaign
interests is evidently a ridiculous, gross mistake. ..."

B) "How Long Will Taiwan's Economy Be Hijacked by the
Fundamentalists?"

The pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (7/28):

"... Viewed as a whole, the discussions over cross-Strait trade and
economics during the Taiwan Sustainable Economic Development
Conference were very much like a killing field for the
fundamentalists. These fundamentalists used discredited economic
discourse to try to stop the big trend of cross-Strait trade and
economic development. Participants in the Sustainable Economic
Development Conference said these people slashed and boycotted any
proposals made at the conference concerning cross-Strait opening
without any reasons. They even called for legislation of bills to
ban or regulate 'lobbying for mainland China.' Such a legislative
move that suppresses the freedom of speech of other people, in an
attempt to shape restricted, uniform articulation and thereby
control the terrain of debating Taiwan's trade policy, would not
only disrupt the normal mechanism with which a policy is formed, but
also ruin Taiwan's democratic foundation. The move thus deserves
severe criticism. In the face of this anti-democratic approach, it
is indeed a big problem for the administrative branch to break the
deadlock. ..."

4. KMT Chairman Ma's Trip to Japan


"Ma Risks Security with Myth of 'Equal Distance'"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (7/28):

"... The most worrisome position floated by the KMT chairman during
his Japan visit was almost entirely ignored by the Taiwan media,
namely Ma's openly expressed reservations about the role of the
U.S.-Japan Security alliance in the Asia-Pacific region. ... When
senior U.S. and Japan diplomats proposed the provision of assistance
to crate a balance in the Asia-Pacific region and an environment
favorable for the development of Chinese democracy, the KMT adopted
an evasive stance. Instead, the KMT treated the 'U.S.-Japan
Alliance' and 'Taiwan-China relations' as 'zero-sum games' and
expressed considerable apprehension that good relations between
Taiwan and the 'U.S.-Japan Security Alliance' would influence
relations between Taipei and Beijing. As a result, the adoption of
an apparent strategy of 'neutrality for neutrality's sake' by the
KMT could well lead to Taiwan's strategic isolation and eventual
subordination to the PRC.

"In considering the Taiwan Strait issue, we must understand that the
traditional 'U.S.-China-Taiwan triangle' can no longer cope with the
current strategic situation in the Taiwan Strait. ... Japan's
strategic concepts and its expectations toward both Taiwan and the
PRC will also become one of decisive factors that will affect the
formation of the strategic situation in the Taiwan Strait. Facing
today's situation in East Asia, the KMT is still mired in the
'strategic ambiguity' mentality of the previous few decades and has
entirely placed its hopes for the future of Taiwan's economy,
security and development on the PRC, fears only offending Beijing
and no longer cares for the relationships with the United States or
Japan.

"Senior Japanese officials are reported to be especially concerned
over Ma's concept of promoting 'equal distance' between Taiwan and
the United States, Japan, and the PRC and his willingness to accept
the framework of the mythical 'Consensus of 1992' which constitutes
an acceptance of Beijing's 'one China' principle. ... This ostrich
mentality and the KMT's wishful thinking of the 'goodwill' of an
authoritarian and militaristic power instead of two long-time
democratic partners threaten to exacerbate Taiwan's diplomatic and
security isolation and pave the way for a massive strategic
disaster. Fear of this specter is the main reason for the cool
reception given Ma and his KMT delegation in Japan."

YOUNG

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