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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Movements to Oust President Chen

VZCZCXYZ0003
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2946 2360900
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240900Z AUG 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1812
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5576
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6787

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002946

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - DAVID FIRESTEIN
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A


TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: MOVEMENTS TO OUST PRESIDENT CHEN
SHUI-BIAN


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage August 24 on former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh's campaign
to oust President Chen Shui-bian; the many attacks against Shih's
planned movement and against him personally; and the KMT's
first-ever party assets report, which was released Wednesday. The
pro-status quo "China Times" dedicated two-thirds of its page three
to carrying a letter by Lung Yin-tai, a well-known writer and
scholar in both Taiwan and China, explaining why she did not donate
NT$100 to Shih's campaign but believes President Chen should resign.
The pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, on
the other hand, ran a banner headline on page four that said "Shih
Ming-teh's [Campaign] to Oust Bian Is Evolving Toward Blue-Green
Confrontation." Several papers also carried remarks by an unnamed
U.S. State Department official regarding President Chen's planned
transit of Guam in early September. The official was quoted as
saying that the U.S. decision over whether to allow Chen to transit
Guam is unaffected by Taiwan's current political situation and thus
cannot be interpreted as the United States support for Chen or not.

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2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an analysis in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" said Washington's clear
indication that it will not get involved in Taiwan's political
situation is the most important reason why President Chen appears to
be "composed and self-assured." The article also said that the
campaign to oust Bian has led Chen to return to the political
battlefield he is most familiar with, and as a result, September
could be a crisis and a turning point for Chen. End summary.

"Green Camp Keeps Firing Severe Attacks at Shih, Bian Carried Away
with His Triumph"

Journalist Huang Ya-shih noted in an analysis in the pro-unification
"United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (8/24):

"... Bian's confident looks indicated that the atmosphere has
changed over the past week. The series of moves taken by Bian's
team to 'pacify Green supporters and expel outside attacks' gave
Chen full confidence to win the battle and secure his position. The
U.S. side's clear position that it will not get involved in Taiwan's
political situation was, without a doubt, the most important reason
that Bian has appeared to be 'composed and self-assured.' Even
though Chen's 'unpredictability' often gave the United States
headaches, Washington has doubts about Vice President Annette Lu
succeeding Chen as president, and it is even more worried about the
political upheavals which might be triggered by Chen's resignation.
Bian chose to transit Guam, an external territory of the United
States, probably because he was sure that Washington would not
oppose such a proposal. Bian can thus seize such an opportunity to
create the impression that the United States supports him.

"In Taiwan, even though the movements to oust Bian seem
overwhelming, the development of the situation...somehow oddly
reduced the pressure directly imposed by the Blue and Green camps on
Bian. The public pressure originally demanding a review of, and
criticism against, Bian, and for the move to draw a line separate
Bian and the DPP, used to fall on the DPP and its four top
heavyweights. Voices calling for reform of the DPP, from [Bian's]
ceding some of his powers to the dissolution of the party's
factions, seemed incessant, and A-bian was constantly in a 'to be
tortured' position. But since the emergence of the movements to
oust Bian, DPP legislators have launched a series of planned moves
to smear Shih Ming-teh, and as a result, Bian's pressure on the
Green camp has grown relatively lighter.

"The movements to oust Bian have even mitigated Bian's crisis with
the pro-independence activists. As the campaign to unseat the
president gained more and more momentum, it has turned into a show
venue for pan-Blue celebrities, a development that conveniently gave
the DPP a chance to define the campaign as a copy of the protests
against the March 19 shooting in 2004. The deep-Green supporters
who used to be slightly displeased with A-bian were left with no
choice but to take his side. ...

"As for people power, it will be very difficult to bring Chen down
from his position from within the system. Chen, who is well-versed
in the law, is also clearly aware of this; that is why he has
repeatedly referred to the law, saying 'my term will end in 2008,'
and that the 'the issue must be resolved via the system.' Compared
with the previous beaten and vulnerable position Chen was in, the
campaign to oust Bian has led him to return to the political
battlefield that he is most familiar with. In Bian's eyes,
September may be a crisis for him, but it may also be a turning
point for him 'to rise from demise again.'"

YOUNG

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