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Cablegate: Media Reaction: President Chen Shui-Bian's Comment On

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #3391/01 2750950
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020950Z OCT 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2411
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5727
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6939

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 003391

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: PRESIDENT CHEN SHUI-BIAN'S COMMENT ON
CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM, U.S.-TAIWAN RELATIONS


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage September 30 - October 2 on the ongoing and follow-on
movements of former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh's campaign to oust
President Chen Shui-bian; on a big rally held in Kaohsiung Saturday
celebrating the DPP's twentieth birthday; on the second presidential
recall motion, which is scheduled to be voted on at a Legislative
Yuan plenary session on October 13; and on further investigation
into the Presidential Office's special fund for state affairs. The
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's largest-circulation
daily, ran an exclusive banner headline on page two October 2 that
read "Blue and Green to Start Offense and Defense over Revision to
the Referendum Law Today."

In addition, almost all papers September 30 carried on the inside
pages the remarks made by State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack
last Thursday, who was quoted as saying that "President Chen's
fulfillment of his commitments will be a test of his leadership,
dependability and statesmanship."

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2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" criticized President Chen's recent
comments on constitutional reforms, saying Washington distrusts Chen
and is treating him like a disobedient child now. A separate "Apple
Daily" opinion piece said State Department Spokesman Tom Casey's
remarks on September 25 implied that, should President Chen break
his promise and make things difficult for Washington, "the United
States will not rule out the possibility of taking a big action and
making Chen and his leadership become history." An editorial in the
limited-circulation, conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" also stressed that Washington is not happy with Chen's
repeated challenge to the United States' one-China policy. A
"Liberty Times" editorial, on the other hand, discussed the
possibility of Taiwan signing a free trade agreement with the United
States. The article urged Taiwan to act proactively to enhance its
economic and security relations with the United States. End
summary.

3. President Chen Shui-bian's Comment on Constitutional Reform

A) "One Person Is in Trouble, While the Whole Party Shoulders [the
Responsibility for Him]"

Columnist Antonio Chiang noted in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 500,000] (10/2):

"... In a DPP meeting last week, A-Bian talked about the [future]
direction for constitutional reforms, which touched on the
territorial issue, and he got slammed by the United States again.
Washington's perception of A-Bian is in proportion to how Taiwan's
ruling and opposition parties are viewing him. The Americans acted
almost as if they disregard diplomatic courtesy; they are tired of
him and distrust him, treating him like a disobedient child. But
A-Bian is used to Americans' criticism; he has developed a
self-defense psychological mechanism long ago and doesn't seem to
care much about Washington's perception of him.

"Chen knows very clearly that he must not touch on issues of
sovereignty and territory. He forgot that the president is not a
commentator, and that he has no freedom of speech; [he also forgot
that] every remark he makes stands for [the government's] policy,
action, and direction. Every sentence he says will be go on the
record, and his every idea will become a commitment. The fact that
Americans have little faith in him has nothing to do with his
personal credibility, but it will jeopardize Taiwan's interests as a
whole. Even until today, Chen is probably unaware that his mouth
has done much unnecessary harm to Taiwan, which has practically
turned all his diplomatic efforts into nothing. ..."

B) "A-Bian's Flip-flopping Drives the United States Crazy"

Edward I-hsin Chen, professor at Tamkang University's Graduate
Institute of American Studies, opined in the mass-circulation "Apple
Daily" [circulation: 500,000] (9/30):

"... This time, many senior U.S. officials have made harsh comments
on Chen Shui-bian. They said Chen is clearly aware of where the
'red line' lies, but he is still running the risk, even though he
knows what's in store for him; they said he should not play the game
of 'lawyer's language' and that he should not play small tricks all
the time just for his personal interests. But no statement came as
serious as what State Department Spokesman Tom Casey said during a
routine briefing September 25: 'Chen's fulfillment of his
commitments will be a test of his leadership." [This statement] not
only sounded threatening but also implied that, should Chen break
his promise and make things difficult for Washington, the United
States will not rule out the possibility of taking a big action to
make Chen and his leadership become history."

C) "President Chen's Red Herring"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (9/30):

"At a time when all the eyes of Taiwan's citizens are focused on
President Chen Shui-bian's scandals of corruption, the embattled
president has resorted to an old game by invoking his controversial
'two different states' theory to win support from his radical
followers. Apparently, it is a tactic to divert public attention
from the trouble that may doom his presidency and his political
life. The anti-corruption protests led by his former comrade Shih
Ming-teh have effectively deprived him of moral legitimacy to
governor. The president has become not only a lame duck, but also a
prisoner at the Presidential Palace. ...

"It remains to be seen, however, whether it will work this time.
Washington does not like it, as it is not consistent with his
proverbial pledges to the contrary. In fact, Washington is not
happy with Chen's repeated challenge to Washington's one-China
policy. Chen should have learned a lesson from the shabby treatment
he got in return from Washington for his provocative statements.
..."

4. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

"Act Proactively to Enhance Economic and Security Relations between
Taiwan and the United States"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized (9/30):

"... Some U.S. officials, while calling on Taiwan to open its trade
and economic ties with China, only stressed the market function and
completely overlooked the close link between economics and politics.
In fact, China's attempt to hinder Taiwan and the United States
from signing a free trade agreement was, by nature, a move made
based on political considerations. Similarly, the United States'
trade and economic exchanges with communist countries such as China
are also closely related to politics. ...

"Heavyweight U.S. congressmen have adopted positive and powerful
moves over the past few days [i.e. calling for moves to strengthen
U.S.-Taiwan economic relations], which not only coincide with U.S.
interests but also speak up for the voices of the Taiwan people. We
hope that U.S. administration agencies such as the U.S. Trade
Representative will adopt concrete actions in line with Congress'
[calls] and substantively enhance the economic and security
relations between Taiwan and the United States. Our government
should also strengthen its engagement with the United States and
proactively push for the signing of a free trade agreement with the
United States."

WANG

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