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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Fta, Taiwan Political

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2845/01 2290854
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170854Z AUG 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1684
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5547
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6761

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002845

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: U.S.-TAIWAN FTA, TAIWAN POLITICAL
SITUATION


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to
focus their coverage August 17 on former DPP Chairman Shih
Ming-teh's efforts to oust President Chen Shui-bian, and
investigations into the Presidential Office's special state affairs
expense account. The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" ran an
exclusive story on page two with the headline "DPP's Approval Rating
in Taipei City Drops to Eight Percent." The pro-status quo "China
Times," on the other hand, ran a banner headline on page two that
said "Tension in Bian-Su Relationship? DPP Senior: Su May Step Down
Earlier Than Bian Does." Several papers also carried the remarks by
AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young at the ROC-USA Business Council
Wednesday, in which Young commended Premier Su Tseng-chang for
convening the Conference on Sustaining Taiwan's Economic Development
and discussing the benefits and risks to Taiwan's economy of further
cross-Strait opening.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a news analysis in the
pro-status quo "Commercial Times' discussed the possibility of
Taiwan signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States,
saying that Taiwan's own attitude is the key barrier to the
U.S.-Taiwan FTA. An editorial in the pro-independence "Liberty
Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, on the other hand, praised former
President Lee Teng-hui's recent suggestion to replace the expression
'nativist regime' with the term 'Taiwan-centered regime.' An
opinion piece in the limited-circulation, pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" criticized former DPP Chairman
Shih's campaign to oust President Chen, saying it shows no advance
toward democracy and the rule of law. End summary.

3. U.S.-Taiwan FTA

"It's a Long Way to Get the Wished-for FTA"

Journalist Tan Shu-chen noted in the pro-status quo "Commercial
Times" (8/17):

"There is hardly any progress with regard to Taiwan's long-term
efforts to seek to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United
States, and Taiwan has claimed that it was because of Beijing's
political interference. But to judge from AIT Taipei Director
Stephen Young's speech, we finally have realized that the key
barrier to a Taiwan-U.S. FTA is Taiwan's own attitude. The American
Chamber of Commerce in Taipei reminded the Taiwan government several
times that Congress' fast-track Trade Promotion Authority will
expire in July 2007, and it is thus a matter of great urgency for
Taiwan and the United States to sign a FTA. To increase the
incentives for the United States to sign a FTA with Taiwan, American
firms suggested that Taiwan quickly remove its restrictions on
cross-Strait trade and let mainland China become a hinterland of
Taiwan's market. Meanwhile, American firms would use every channel
they know to lobby the U.S. Congress to extend the Trade Promotion
Authority.

"But Taiwan went the opposite direction. What Taiwan has been doing
is to keep circling in the outer lane. Even if the island has
mobilized many 'friendly' groups to campaign for Taiwan, there is
still no incentive for the United States to sign a FTA. As a
result, Washington appears to be unresponsive to Taiwan's
clarifications. ... It is noteworthy though, that in the wake of
the Conference on Sustaining Taiwan's Economic Development, the
public generally believe that the Su revisionism, which indicated
the possibility of Taiwan easing its restrictions on cross-Strait
interaction, is discarded. But Young mentioned Su's revisionism [in
his speech] and said he wanted to applaud Su [for that]. At this
moment, when President Chen is plagued by scandals and the United
States has assessed that his leadership is at a critical stage,
Washington has given policy recommendations to Taiwan via Young's
mouth. The DPP government should really give thought to what this
move indicates after all."

4. Taiwan's Political Situation

A) "'Taiwan-Centered Regime' and 'Taiwan People in a New Era'"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized (8/17):

"Former President Lee Teng-hui said recently that Taiwan is already
an independent sovereign state, and rectifying Taiwan's name and
writing a new constitution are things Taiwan must do. But since the
expression 'nativist regime' indicates separatism, which may lead to
division and confrontation, Lee suggested that Taiwan society use
'Taiwan-centered regime' to replace 'nativist regime' in the future,
and those who identify with 'Taiwan' should be regarded as 'Taiwan
people in a new era.' Given the current situation, which is full of
political upheaval and confusion over identity and values, Lee's
suggestion to replace the expression 'nativist regime' with
'Taiwan-centered regime' helped to clarify the confusion and may

even direct Taiwan toward a new way out of the current Blue-Green
confrontation. ... In other words, it is a leap for Taiwan history
and further consolidation of Taiwan-centered consciousness to move
from a 'nativist regime' to a 'Taiwan-centered regime,' and from
'Taiwan people' to 'Taiwan people in a new era.'"

B) "Shih's New Campaign Is a Sorry Tale"

Linda Gail Arrigo, the ex-wife of former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh
and the international officer for the Green Party Taiwan, opined in
the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (8/17):

"... Corruption has been long ingrained in Taiwan society, down to
the lowest levels, and the change of ruling parties has only begun
to alter the rules. We cannot defend the DPP in general or the
president in particular in so far as they have taken the easier
route of continuing past habits, trying to buy off the obstacles,
and perhaps even lining their own pockets with unearned rewards.
But [is] his campaign for Chen to step down now, without use of the
present mechanisms of impeachment or recall, any advance toward
democracy and the rule of law? Does it test or improve the present
legal system? Or would it be a step back to the KMT's former easy
appropriation of state resources and assets, which we can assume
will rebound again with vengeance if KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou
becomes president?

"So why has Shih got involved in politics again? It seems
anachronistic for him to raise the specter of revolution, when now
finally the citizens can exercise their right to vote. Does he have
a long-term vision of what he wants? Does he still stand for
Taiwan's emergence as an internationally recognized nation? Or has
he abandoned the ideals that he sacrificed 25 years of his life for,
too?"

YOUNG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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