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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan, Taiwan's New

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #3754/01 3070906
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030906Z NOV 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2895
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5884
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7102

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 003754

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: U.S. ARMS SALES TO TAIWAN, TAIWAN'S NEW
CONSTITUTION


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage November 3 on the kidnap of a local baseball pitching
coach; on the investigation of the presidential allowance for state
affairs case; and on President Chen Shui-bian's interview with the
"Financial Times" Wednesday, in which he again proposed that Taiwan
could "freeze" its current constitution and pass a new constitution.
The pro-unification "United Daily News" ran a banner headline on
page six that read "Exclusive Interview with Britih Media; Bian
Proposes Again to Freeze [Current] Constitution and Push New
Constitution."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's largest-circulation
daily, continued to editorialize on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. The
article defended AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young's recent remarks
on Taiwan's arms procurements and criticized those who oppose the
arms deal for their "anti-U.S. and pro-China" mentality. An
analysis in the pro-status quo "China Times," on the other hand,
discussed President Chen's proposal to push a new constitution. The
article said Chen's real purpose is to use the constitutional reform
to lure the hardcore Green supporters and restrain the new DPP
heavyweights. End summary.

3. U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

"To Put It Bluntly, Opposition to Arms Procurements Is [to Adopt]
Anti-U.S. and Pro-China Position"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized (11/3):

"... Stephen Young reminded the Legislative Yuan to pass the arms
procurement bill this fall and reminded Taiwan to quickly strengthen
its self-defensive military capability. His remarks have conveyed
the United States' grave concern for Taiwan's security. In our
eyes, foreign friends such as Stephen Young are the real friends of
Taiwan. The national identity in Taiwan is quite confusing right
now; some people mistake friends for foes, while others mistake foes
for friends, and this is the real threat coming from within Taiwan.

"Those who oppose the arms procurements tend to oppose everything
that has to do with the United States, and thus they harbor
resentment against Young. To put it bluntly, [the resentment] was
actually caused by their 'anti-U.S. and pro-China' mentality. If
this is not the case, then why were these people so infuriated when
the United States urged Taiwan to pass the defense military budget?
Why is it that they have never felt that their country's dignity has
been jeopardized and that their life and property are in danger when
China has constantly threatened to use force against Taiwan, has
enacted the 'Anti-Secession Law,' and has announced to the
international community that Taiwan is part of China?"

4. Taiwan's New Constitution

"Bian Is Anxious to Protect Himself by Pushing a New Constitution
before the Elections"

Journalist Lin Shu-ling noted in an analysis in the pro-status quo
"China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (11/3):

"... The Bian administration is clearly aware that the United States
will not support the DPP in dealing with the sensitive issue of a
new constitution. But the Presidential Office gave Washington two
justifications [for its move]: The first is that the threshold for
constitutional reform is very high, and a draft constitution
proposal cannot possibly be passed without a true consensus.
Second, the 'Second Republic Constitution' will continue to use
'Republic of China' as the national name, so it will not violate
[Taiwan's] pledge to the United States.

"Bian's justifications are akin to telling the United States that
the constitutional reform is a 'bogus game' and that it hopes
Washington will not exert too much pressure [on Taiwan]. Indeed,
Bian's move of 'quasi-writing a new constitution' will by no means
cross the super-high threshold of constitutional amendment. But
Bian's move is evident and widely known to everyone. Whether or not
there will be a new constitution remains to be seen, but using
constitutional reform to pander to hardcore Green supporters and
restrain the new DPP heavyweights is his real purpose.

"For Bian, as long as he can secure the deep-Green stalwarts, he can
continue to position himself on the high ground and attack others,
regardless of whether the DPP can continue to take the helm. But
the topic of 'quasi-writing a new constitution' should be poisonous
for soliciting votes in the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral races. As
a result, it is truly intriguing to see whether Bian's move quickly
to put this topic on the table prior to the elections indicates that
he has sensed the pressure from the investigation of the
CONSTITUTION

Presidential allowance for state affairs case, so he needs to rally
the pro-independence supporters and launch another campaign to
protect himself."

WANG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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