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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Dprk Nuclear Test, President Chen


DE RUEHIN #3585/01 2920922
R 190922Z OCT 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies gave
significant coverage October 19 to Taipei prosecutors' raid of the
Chinatrust Financial Holding Company on Wednesday and the detention
of two senior officers in charge of financial and legal affairs.
News coverage also focused on the year-end Taipei and Kaohsiung
mayoral race; on the Department of Health's sudden decision
Wednesday to ban hairy crabs carried by passengers from China after
traces of carcinogens were detected in these crabs; and on further
investigation into the Presidential Office's fund for state affairs
case. The pro-status quo "China Times" ran a banner headline on
page four that said "Protests to Oust Bian Give a Lift to [Frank]
Hsieh and [James] Soong But Do Damage to Hau [Lung-pin]."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" commented on North Korea's recent
nuclear test, saying that China is the first to bear the brunt of
the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula. A separate "Apple
Daily" opinion piece said the nuclear test has confirmed the urgency
for Taiwan to buy weapons from the United States. An editorial in
the limited-circulation, pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan
News" discussed President Chen's idea of a "Second Republic
Constitution," saying the concept can "help bridge the notions of
constitutional 'amendment' and constitutional 'enactment.'" End

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3. DPRK Nuclear Test

A) "Beijing Has Changed from Observer to Victim"

Columnist Antonio Chiang commented in the mass-circulation "Apple
Daily" [circulation: 500,000] (10/19):

"On the surface, the main characters in the North Korean nuclear
crisis are Pyongyang and Washington. But to judge from a more
substantive perspective, it is not the United States, but China,
that is the first to bear the brunt of it. This is because if the
United States adjusts its relations with North Korea, conflicts
between the two sides can be easily reduced or even eliminated. But
Beijing and Pyongyang are neighbors, and a Pyongyang in possession
of nuclear weapons will forge permanent restraints on China's
strategic security.

"Beijing's reaction this time has far surpassed the expectations of
the United States and Japan, and has won a positive view from the
international community, which believes China has demonstrated a
responsible attitude. In reality, however, Beijing's attitude
toward North Korea has long faced a dilemma. The White House has
been stretched too thin and has long desired to treat the North
Korea issue as a regional security issue, hoping that China will
shoulder more responsibility. Strategy experts in Beijing are
currently arguing about how China could cope with the [nuclear]
crisis. ...

"The motive behind Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons may be
aimed at the United States, Japan, or others. But no country will
ive up nuclear weapons once it possesses them, and international
politics is evolving every day. ... North Korea has a much
stronger nationalistic sentiment than China, and history shows that
North Korea has been subjected to more bullying than China. China
can develop nuclear weapons for its nationalism, so why cannot North
Korea? When China's ally, Pakistan, detonated nuclear devices in
1998, China did not try to stop it. Why has Beijing adopted a
double standard now? Was it any different from the hegemonic
thinking of U.S. imperialism? These are the questions Beijing will
find very difficult to answer."

B) "Nuclear Crisis Confirms Urgency of Arms Procurements"

DPP China Affairs Director Lai I-chung opined in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 500,000] (10/19):

"North Korea's nuclear test on October 9 has again escalated the
security crisis in Northeast Asia. For Taiwan, which is about a
two-and-a-half-hour flight from Pyongyang, the new changes in
geostrategy in East Asia triggered by Pyongyang's crisis, as well as
its impact on Taiwan's regional security, have confirmed the need
for Taiwan to buy the three items of weaponry [from the United

"North Korea performed a nuclear test in October and test-fired
long-range ballistic missiles in July. We therefore cannot exclude
the possibility that North Korea may be have the capability to
launch nuclear missiles. Even though there is no direct conflict
between Taiwan and North Korea, Pyongyang may still be likely to
launch missiles when tension escalates or a war breaks out in the
future. If ballistic missiles hit Taiwan accidentally due to
imprecision or miscalculation, Taiwan, which has zero missile
defense capability and no hardware or software to link itself with

information from the United States and Japan, will be unable to
defend itself or get early warning about the missiles. All the
more, given the lack of relevant information, Taiwan may likely
misjudge the situation and cope with it as if the missiles are the
harbinger of Chinese attacks against the island, and unexpectedly
turn the nuclear crisis into a crisis across the Taiwan Strait. ...

"In addition, the United Nations has just approved international
sanctions against North Korea, including inspecting all airplanes
and ships going in and out of North Korea. Since the waters on both
sides of the island of Taiwan are important gateways for North
Korea, Southeast Asia, and South Asia, and Kaohsiung Harbor used to
be a harbor at which North Korean ships chose to berth, there are
possibilities that North Korean ships might enter the Taiwan Strait
to dodge checks by the United States and Japan on the high seas.
China may also interfere with such a situation. Since [Taiwan's]
three arms deals with the United States include key interfaces to
link Taiwan with U.S. and Japanese information, and they involve, to
a certain extent, early-warning capabilities, the deals may be
helpful for Taiwan in handling North Korean vessels. If Taiwan
fails to complete those arms deals in time, ... it may cause
difficulties for Taiwan in interacting with the United States and
Japan and create new variables in the Taiwan Strait, which may
increase new uncertainties [for the area]. ..."

4. President Chen Shui-bian's "Second Republic" Idea

"Time to Proclaim 'Second Republic'"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (10/19):

"... The concept of a 'Second Republic Constitution' can help bridge
the notions of constitutional 'amendment' and constitutional
'enactment' and include a comprehensive revamping that can both
remove past 'provisional' articles or clauses or obsolete and
anachronistic features. Such an option could meet the needs of
advocates of a 'new' constitution while respecting the feelings of
citizens with an emotional or political attachment to the R.O.C.
moniker. Nevertheless, the thinking behind President Chen's mention
of Koo's concept of enacting a 'Second Republic Constitution' has
also disappointed some elder statesman in the 'pan-green' camp,
especially since this path would not feature a 'rectification' of
Taiwan's official name into the 'Republic of Taiwan' or more simple
'Taiwan.' ...

"Moreover, we believe that re-engineering of Taiwan's constitutional
order is urgently needed and should focus primarily on the question
of the central government system and enhance protections for human
and civic rights. We believe there is little to be gained by
raising qusstions of our formal national title or to try to reinvent
the wheel of the process of constitutional revision, projects which
could not possibly be approved by the opposition Kuomintang-People
First Party controlled Legislature. ..."


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