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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Dprk Nuclear Test, Campaign to Oust

VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #3509/01 2860923
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130923Z OCT 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2566
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5765
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6980

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 003509

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: DPRK NUCLEAR TEST, CAMPAIGN TO OUST
PRESIDENT CHEN SHUI-BIAN


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage October 13 on a Taipei City Police Department decision
Thursday to revoke permission for the "Oust Bian" campaign to
assemble in front of the Presidential Office starting this coming
Saturday; on the vote in the Legislative Yuan today over the motion
to recall President Chen Shui-bian; and on the plane crash of New
York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle Wednesday. Both the
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's largest-circulation
daily, and the pro-unification "United Daily News" reported on
inside pages a U.S. Congressional Research Service report released
Tuesday, which said Washington worries that "the level of anti-Chen
sentiment being whipped up by some of Chen's opponents may lead to
more violent protests or to extra-judicial measures for addressing
the corruption allegations."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" commented on North Korea's recent
nuclear test, saying the move has made China anxious and outraged,
but Beijing was unable to complain about it, like a mute person
tasting bitter herbs. With regard to the campaign to oust President
Chen, an editorial in the limited-circulation, conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" said the majority of
the Taiwan people have spoken their minds about Chen's abuses of
power and no longer consider him as their leader. An editorial in
the limited-circulation, pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan
News," on the other hand, urged the "Oust Bian" campaign to stop and
allow the judiciary and constitutional system to decide whether Chen
has abused his power. End summary.

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3. DPRK Nuclear Test

"Like a Mute Person Tasting Bitter Herbs, Beijing Is Unable to
Complain"

Columnist Antonio Chiang noted in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 500,000] (10/13):

"... North Korea's nuclear test came as a great encouragement for
Iran's development of nuclear weapons. But more importantly, the
nuclear test has drawn China, Japan, and South Korea closer to each
other; it is rare for the three countries to find a consensus, and
they now have to join hands together to deal with this challenge.
...

"The key purpose for Pyongyang to possess nuclear weapons is to use
them for nuclear deterrence, and without a doubt, its main target is
the United States. But since the United States is a long distance
away, and it has interception ballistic missiles, it can sleep in
peace for a while. But the neighboring countries of North Korea,
such as Japan, South Korea, and, of course, China, are those which
really feel the threat because there is no eternal friendship
between nations. Once Beijing and Pyongyang are on bad terms, North
Korea may switch its target of deterrence to China.

"When it comes to the problem of North Korea, if China chooses to
side with South Korea, it is akin to carrying two burdens on its
back - North Korea and South Korea. Also, once China forms an
alliance with South Korea, the alliance between the United States
and South Korea will surely collapse. [Should this be the case,]
Washington will definitely seek to strengthen its alliance with
Japan, which will create an impact on Beijing-Washington ties and
may not be so favorable for China. This nuclear test is shaping
Asia's geopolitics. Japan gets really nervous, while Washington's
uneasiness is merely sham; China is both anxious and outraged, but
like a mute person tasting bitter herbs, it is unable to complain."


4. Campaign to Oust President Chen Shui-bian

A) "Chen Already Judged a Loser"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (10/13):

"... Knowledgeable people will say that, when a spate of evidence
unmistakably has shown that the present judicial system is neither
independent nor upholds justice, 'letting the people decide' should
be the best and most democratic way to resolve the current deadlock
between pro- and anti-Chen camps. And, indeed, there is no
legitimate reason for Chen, a politician who has always boasted of
being a champion of democracy, to refuse to face such a public vote
of confidence if he still firmly believes he is innocent and
supported by the majority of the people.

"But, the fact is that all DPP legislators, understandably with the
president's consent, do not agree to this democratic suggestion,
with the result that the recall proposal cannot be passed. When a
popularly elected head of state in a democracy is afraid of being
PRESIDENT CHEN SHUI-BIAN

tested by public opinion, it means he realizes that he has lost
popular support. Hence President Chen is no longer a credible
supreme leader even if he is digging himself in the Presidential
Office and manages to preserve his precarious presidency through
exploiting legal technicalities. ...

"Few believe that President Chen, with his determination and
audacity, will ultimately be forced to relinquish his power by a
'peaceful' movement. But, the majority of the people have spoken
their minds against his abuses of power. Deep in their hearts, they
no longer consider him as their leader, which should be the most
painful humiliation to a popularly elected supreme leader in a
modern democracy. ..."

B) "Time to Go Home and Wake up"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (10/13):

"We sincerely urge Shih Ming-teh and other leaders of the misnamed
'Million Voices against Corruption' campaign to depose President
Chen Shui-bian to take the advice offered by the Democratic
Progressive Party Wednesday and go home. ... The last month has
indeed been enlightening, but enough is enough. Mr. Shih, please do
everyone a favor: Go home. We finally hope that the thousands of
people who jumped into Shih's campaign will reflect on their
experiences, allow our judiciary and constitutional system to handle
the question of whether President Chen has abused his powers and
wake up to the fact that they have again been used by unscrupulous
politicians."

YOUNG

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