Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More



Cablegate: Media Reaction: President Chen Shui-Bian's Constitutional


DE RUEHIN #3309/01 2681022
R 251022Z SEP 06





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Summary: Taiwan major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage September 23-25 on the ongoing and follow-on movements of
former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh's campaign to oust President Chen
Shui-bian; on possible solutions to the current political stand-off
in Taiwan; and on President Chen's proposed constitutional reforms
that touch on the island's territory. The pro-independence "Liberty
Times," Taiwan's largest circulation daily, ran a banner headline on
page three September 25 that read "Bian Tosses Out Topic; Territory
to Be Included in DPP's Draft Constitutional Reform Proposal." The
pro-status quo "China Times," in the meantime, ran a banner headline
on page four September 25 that said "Ma to Take Action Today:
Second [Presidential] Recall Motion Will Be Focus of Negotiations
between Ruling and Opposition Parties." The pro-unification "United
Daily News," on the other hand, front-paged the results of its
latest poll September 25, showing that only 15 percent of those
polled said they support the DPP, a 40 percent loss of support over
the past twelve months. The same poll also found that the DPP's
approval rating has dropped 30 percent since it came to power six
years ago.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
analysis urged the ruling DPP government to clarify to the United
States and Japan the sensitive constitutional reform proposal that
touches on Taiwan's territory. A "China Times" analysis judged that
after having weighed the entire political situation, President Chen
is moving closer to hasty Taiwan independence, using Taiwan-centered
awareness as an umbrella to protect himself. A "United Daily News"
analysis, on the other hand, called the unification/independence
card a new trick that Chen has play so many times when he faced
crises that his skill has attained perfection. End summary.

A) "Constitutional Reform on Territory Is Sensitive, Need to Clarify
with United States and Japan"

Journalist Luo Tien-pin noted in an analysis in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000] (9/25):

"The fact that President Chen Shui-bian tossed out the
constitutional reform issue on [Taiwan's] territory yesterday has
aroused grave concern and will certainly touch the sensitive nerve
of Washington-Beijing-Taipei relations. Should the ruling party
pass the resolution to put forward the constitutional reform
proposal on territorial changes, the government has to give complete
details to important allies in the international community, such as
the United States and Japan, clarifying to them that the move is
purely in line with [the island's] actual governance status and
international reality, and it is not meant to change the status quo.

"When compared with the move to cease the functions of the National
Unification Council (NUC) and the application of the National
Unification Guidelines (NUG), the ruling party regards the move to
change Taiwan's territory as a very important substance of its
constitutional reform proposal. The Chinese side will definitely
link this move to the cessation of the NUC and the NUG. In
addition, Chen has already instructed his administration to assess
the possibility of pushing Taiwan's bid to join the United Nations
under the name of Taiwan. For the Chinese side, the move will only
confirm its belief that the next step the Bian administration will
take is to change Taiwan's national flag and title, and eventually
take the path towards Taiwan independence. ...

"A faithful description of a country's territory is something that
[Taiwan] must make in the face of international reality. What the
DPP government is doing is in reality something that the Chiang
Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo administrations should have done years
ago. Given the current sensitive triangular relationship between
Washington, Beijing, and Taipei, if the constitutional reform
proposal on territorial change is really as simple and plain as the
ruling government claims it to be, which does not involve any
long-range political objectives, the ruling government should
candidly explain the issue to the international community. ..."

B) "Bian Moving Closer to Hasty Independence, Making It Difficult
for Wang to Head Cabinet"

Journalist Hsiao Hsu-tsen said in an analysis in the pro-status quo
"China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (9/25):

"President Chen Shui-bian has indeed revealed his trump card for the
remainder of his term -- he is moving toward hasty independence.
Once this card is played, it will give a big shock to
U.S.-China-Taiwan relations. Su Tseng-chang, who aspires to the
presidency [in 2008] may find it difficult to stay on in his current
position, and the rumors that have been circulating for a long time,
that Wang Jin-pyng may head the Cabinet, will be close to falling
apart. By contrast, the chances have suddenly grown higher with
regard to the rumors that either Mark Chen will head the Cabinet or

that Yu Shyi-kun will be appointed as the premier again.

"If Chen touches on the bottom line of writing a new constitution,
as clearly stated in his 'Four Nos' pledge, the two superpowers, the
United States and China, will perhaps interfere with Taiwan's
political situation. A high-ranking KMT person predicted just
recently: 'Both Washington and Beijing will keep silent even if one
million Taiwan people surround the Presidential Office. But both
will get angry and show no mercy if Bian changes one word in his
'Four Nos' pledge!" [Should this happen], the chances will be slim
for Wang Jin-pyng, whom the United States deeply trusts and Beijing
regards as a target for future interaction, to head the Cabinet
right now. ...

"Chen's moving closer to hasty independence is a calculated move
after he weighed the entire political situation. First, [if he does
so], Lee Teng-hui, who also is calling for the rectification of
Taiwan's name and writing a new constitution, will hardly be able to
impede him. No matter what Lee's plan is, Lee cannot harm Bian as
long as the latter stands on the high ground of Taiwan independence.
Second, Bian chose to use 'his striving for Taiwan independence' as
his historical legacy. He will not only not become a figurehead,
but can also use Taiwan-centered awareness and turn it into an
umbrella that protects him. ..."

C) "It's [Chen's] Old Trick to Play the Unification vs. Independence
Card Whenever [He] Faces Crisis"

Journalist Huang Ya-shih said in an analysis in the pro-unification
"United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (9/25):

"For President Chen, the move to toss out the unification vs.
independence issue can at least hit two targets: First, the move
can divert people's attention. In the highly divided Taiwan
society, once the ideological battle between unification and
independence is triggered, every one will join the fight, which will
naturally weaken the criticism against Bian. Second, the
unification vs. independence issue will divide the public into two
groups and thus shift [public argument] into the controversy over
whether 'supporting Bian is akin to supporting nativism.' Over the
past six years, since Chen came to power, he has been playing and
manipulating the unification vs. independence card whenever he faces
a crisis, and his skill has attained perfection. ...

"The uproar caused by [Chen's move to] 'cease the functions of the
National Unification Council (NUC)' in early 2006 was a one hundred
percent issue of unification versus independence. Chen put out the
National Unification Guidelines (NUG), which have never been applied
and have been long forgotten by most people, and spent a lot of
effort talking up his ideas about 'scrapping the NUC and the NUG.'
After a long circle, Chen, under U.S. pressure, returned to where he
started by eventually swallowing the word 'abolition' and changing
it to 'ceasing.' What Chen did made zero contribution to helping
Taiwan move toward substantive Taiwan independence, but Chen himself
proudly showed off this result to his Green hard-cores as his
distinguished performance.

"Changing Taiwan's territory via constitutional amendments is a fake
topic that is almost impossible to achieve. Chen has pledged to the
international community at least ten times that constitutional
reforms will not involve sovereignty issues such as territorial
change. Chen made his pledge repeatedly because he knew that the
international community, in particular the United States, is
concerned and clearly opposed to it. Under such international
circumstances, can Taiwan possibly insist on pushing the proposal?


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.