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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations, U.S.-Taiwan

VZCZCXYZ0013
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2642/01 2190839
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 070839Z AUG 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1449
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5521
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6731

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002642

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: CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS, U.S.-TAIWAN
RELATIONS


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage August 5-7 on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' sudden
announcement Saturday night, just before Premier Su Tseng-chang was
to leave on his planned trip to Chad, that Taiwan had severed ties
with that country after learning that Chad would resume diplomatic
relations with China; the Ministry of Transportation and
Communications' decision on the controversial operation of the
highway electronic toll collection system; the Cabinet's reshuffle
of its economic chiefs; and the disclosure of President Chen
Shui-bian's alleged "secret" bank account. The pro-status quo
"China Times" ran a banner headline on page two August 7 that read
"China, Chad Establish Ties; Cross-Strait Trade and Economic Policy
Suddenly Frozen." The pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's
biggest daily, meanwhile, ran a banner headline on page two August 6
that said "Island Will Push for Its UN Bid Using Taiwan's Name."
The pro-unification "United Daily News" reported on the results of
its latest survey August 7, which showed that President Chen's
approval rating has dropped to a new low of 15 percent, while
Premier Su's approval rating also has dropped to 39 percent from 43
percent in March.

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2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial urged Premier Su to give up his "Su revisionist line" and
stop pushing to open cross-Strait trade, as Chad's switching
diplomatic relations to China showed that Beijing is trying its best
to isolate Taiwan in the international community. A "United Daily
News" analysis, however, called on Su to think from the opposite
direction and to continue to push his "revisionist line." In terms
of U.S.-Taiwan relations, an op-ed piece in the limited-circulation,
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" said "there is a
pressing need for better communication between the U.S. and Taiwan
in a rapidly changing atmosphere." An editorial in the
limited-circulation, conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" called on Washington to grant Taiwan people visa-free
entry for short tourist stays. End summary.

3. Cross-Strait Relations

A) "Will China Do Anything That Benefits Taiwan?"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized (8/7):

"... Since the beginning of this year, some factions in the DPP have
proposed a 'confident opening,' and there was the so-called 'Su
revisionist line' following President Chen's announcement that he
would cede some of his powers. The stubbornly biased belief in
opening [cross-Strait trade] not only helped quickly to weaken
Taiwan economically, but is also tantamount to secretly helping
China to contain Taiwan diplomatically. Just as Premier Su was
about to push for the opening [of cross-Strait trade] in the wake of
the Taiwan Sustainable Economic Development Conference, China has
gone to great lengths to isolate Taiwan in the international
community. Chad may just be one of the many examples. The incident
of Chad shows that it is better to quit the so-called 'confident
opening' or 'Su revisionist line."

B) "Chad Steps in; Su Revisionism Becomes 'Su Being Fixed'"

Journalist Sean Liu noted in an analysis in the pro-unification
"United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (8/7):

"... For many people, China's suppression of Taiwan's foreign
relations this time made Su Tseng-chang a victim; on the other hand,
it also unexpectedly offered him more room to maneuver with regard
to cross-Strait relations. If Su, who has just been dealt a blow by
China, can think from the reverse direction and continue to push for
the 'Su revisionist line,' he will find himself standing on more
solid ground to refute the doubts of the pro-independence activists.
Su needs to calmly ponder how to strike a balance between his
outrage for now and political needs in the long run, and discover
his position in terms of cross-Strait relations."

4. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

A) "Change the Rules of US-Taiwan Ties"

Nate Bellocchi, a former chairman of AIT and now a special adviser
to the Liberty Times Group, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (8/7):

"... The changes now being sought by Congress are reasonable and
long overdue. There is a pressing need for better communication
between the US and Taiwan in a rapidly changing atmosphere. Even
China must be aware that better US-Taiwan communication would be a
good thing for it, too. Beijing today may still want to absorb
Taiwan, but it is clearly well aware that it has far bigger problems
within China than with Taiwan. It is also aware that the US (and

Taiwan) do not want war over the issue any more than it does. It is
time that the US, in its own interest, underlines the point that
visits and meetings with senior Taiwanese officials in the US or
Taiwan are in everyone's interest, including China's. It's in no
one's interest to have misunderstandings and tension while dealing
with such sensitive issues."

B) "Visa Waiver for ROC"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (8/6):

"Much attention has been paid in Taiwan's news media to the debate
in the United States over proposed changes to the Immigration and
Nationality Act that governs American immigration law. While the
vast majority of Taiwanese now have little trouble obtaining visas
to visit the United States, given the fact that the ROC on Taiwan
has long ago joined the list of economically developed nations, many
people here still fume at the prospect of having to line up at the
American Institute in Taiwan just to get permission to visit friends
and relatives in the United States.

"We sincerely hope that while politicians in the United States
ponder the details of reforming the Immigration and Nationality Act,
they will also remember that many economically developed countries
in East Asia, including our own, should be placed on the 'Visa
Waiver Program' list. ... The United States should therefore
formally recognize the fact that Taiwan is now a developed country
and grant our citizens visa-free entry for short tourist stays, just
like our government already grants to U.S. citizens."

YOUNG

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