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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Middle East, North Korea

VZCZCXYZ0003
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2561/01 2120922
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 310922Z JUL 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1340
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5490
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6697

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002561

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - SCOTT WALKER
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A


TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: MIDDLE EAST, NORTH KOREA


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage July 29-31 on the investigation into "possible
irregularities" in the Presidential Office's special state affairs
expenditures account; the conclusion of the Taiwan Sustainable
Economic Development Conference last Friday and its aftermath;
Yankees pitcher Wang Chien-ming, who tossed the first complete-game
victory of his major league career Friday; and the prosecutors'
decision to seek the death penalty for a man charged with helping to
murder his sister-in-law and of sabotaging a railway system to cover
up the murder. News coverage also focused on President Chen
Shui-bian's son-in-law, who pleaded not guilty as the trial in his
insider trading case opened last Friday; and the KMT's Central
Standing Committee elections Saturday. In addition, with the
exception of the pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest
daily, all Chinese-language paper gave extensive coverage July 31 to
a housekeeper working for President Chen's daughter at his other
residence, who is actually on the payroll of the Presidential
Office.

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2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an opinion piece in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" said if the war between Israel
and Hezbollah continues, the situation in the Middle East will be
unfavorable for the United States. An opinion piece in the
pro-status quo "China Times" also urged Washington to change its
course and policy toward the Middle East. An editorial in the
limited-circulation, conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" said terrorism is intolerable in a civilized world. In
terms of North Korea, a separate editorial in the "China Post" urged
Beijing to stop cuddling up to Kim Jong-il, the "Saddam in the Far
East." End summary.

3. Middle East

A) "Israel Bombing Lebanon; What Kind of New Middle East Will Be
Produced?"

Kao Hsiung-poh, a Taipei strategic commentator, opined in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (7/31):

"It has been over two weeks since Israel launched its strikes
against Hezbollah, and the situation seemed to have grown almost
irrevocable. U.S. President George W. Bush said this is an
opportunity to build a 'New Middle East,' and he may be partially
correct. The Middle East may likely put on a new look, but no one
is sure whether the new situation in the Middle East will be
favorable for the United States. ...

"On the political and psychological levels, the Shiite Hezbollah has
demonstrated strong combat capabilities, which have become a new
source of confidence and pride for many Arabs. Even the Sunni Arabs
who bear a grudge against the Shiites have started to support
Hezbollah. The pro-U.S. Arab governments are now facing a serious
crisis with regard to their ruling prestige and legitimacy.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, which condemned Hezbollah at first,
have changed their remarks since the bombings entered the second
week. Surely the U.S. can measure and claim that these governments
merely sympathize with Hezbollah orally and that they remain
pro-U.S. privately.

"But should the war continue, Arabs who are displeased with their
pro-U.S. governments will have faith in adopting the combat methods
of Hezbollah to fight against the military of the pro-U.S. Arabian
countries, whose combat capabilities are far weaker than those of
Israel. Those regimes that remain pro-U.S. privately may likely be
toppled, while a new Middle East may of course be born, except that
it may not be the new Middle East that Bush is hoping for. [Should
that happen,] the U.S. attempt to direct global affairs will face
more severe barriers and challenges. The neo-conservatives in the
United States and brain-trusters in Israel must have been able to
foresee such a possible development. As a result, unless Hezbollah
is destroyed immediately, it will be very difficult for both Israel
and the U.S. to accept a cease-fire agreement, and war will break
out at any time even though there is a cease-fire agreement."

B) "United States Should Change Its Course with Regard to the Middle
East"

Ying Hui-ming, a cultural commentator currently residing in the
U.S., opined in the pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation:
400,000] (7/29):

"No matter how left-wingers in the Western world slam U.S. hegemony,
it is an undeniable fact that the United States enjoys a unique
position in the world. The disaster that Lebanon is suffering now
also indicates that the problem will not be solved unless the United
States negotiates with the European Union to have Washington
directly contact Israel and Lebanon, and have Egypt, Jordan, and
Saudi Arabia indirectly mediate in between [the warring states].
But the United States' Mideast policy, in which it is the
substantive sponsor (of Israel) on the one hand and plays the role
of an arbitrator on the surface on the other, is really
hypocritical.

"Over the past few years, the U.S. image in the international
community has continued to deteriorate; not only its major allies in
Europe, like France and Germany, have turned against the United
States in terms of the war in Iraq, but anti-U.S. movements in the
world also have reached a historical new high. In the final
analysis, this is an issue of how to exercise one's power. No one
can deny that the United States remains an indispensable force for
maintaining world stability. But when it comes to the exercise of
power, the U.S. tends to be stubborn and egoistic. Without a doubt,
the shock of the September 11 incident was a major factor that
changed Americans' ideology, which created a simple, religious sense
of good and evil for the host of the White House, who sees a clear
distinction between justice and evil and adopts a 'friend or foe'
position when it comes to U.S. foreign relations - a kind of moral
pride. On this point, the U.S. is actually quite similar to the
Islamic fundamentalists. ...

"Now that the war in Iraq has entered its fourth year, the U.S.'
international reputation continues to remain low, and its
unilateralism also failed to make the world safer. The U.S. has
upset the Islamic world, and the arrogance of power it demonstrated
in the United Nations and in the world, especially in Europe, has
aroused a great wave of enmity and resistance. Evidently, the U.S.
approach of using its position as the world's superpower to go
beyond international norms and to impose its will on others is not
viable. It is essential that the United States change its course,
but to judge from the characteristics of the leadership in the White
House, the chances are slim for the U.S. to have major policy
changes within Bush's term of office."

C) "Terrorism Is Intolerable in a Civilized World"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation; 30,000] editorialized (7/30):

"... The Middle East is an unstable region. As Iran seeks to expand
its power and influence, it is in its interest to keep its enemies -
not only Israel and America, but also moderate Arab states - off
balance. Iran is keeping the pot bubbling in Iraq by arming the
Shiite militias and maintaining pressure on Israel by arming and
directing both Hamas and Hezbollah. Thus, it can deflect attention
from its own plans to become a nuclea power. What Israel and the
world need is a stable Middle East, where terrorism is not an
instrument of state policy. In the meantime, a secular Israel is
confronted by a theocratic Iran and a Syrian regime - both using
terror for their own ends. This is intolerable in a civilized
world."

4. North Korea

"Cuddling up to a Dictator"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation; 30,000] editorialized (7/29):

"U.S. President George W. Bush was right to call Kim Jong-il's North
Korea an 'axis of evil.' And judging from what the reclusive
dictator of the pariah state has said and done, Kim is a greater
threat to the world than Saddam Hussein was when he ruled Iraq as
president. ... Beijing, which holds Pyongyang's lifeline, should
stop cuddling up to Kim Jong-il, the Saddam in the Far East. North
Korea needs a regime change to get rid of the eccentric and reckless
dictator whose kleptocratic regime makes counterfeit greenbacks and
sells rockets to rogue states like Iran. Kim is a tyrant who cares
less about the plight of his people than the security of his regime.
Mainland leader Hu Jintao should think seriously about jettisoning
the 'dear leader' and end the Kim dynasty found by his father Kim
Il-sung, the 'great leader' who presided over one of the world's
most oppressive regimes."

YOUNG

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