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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Midterm Elections

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #3840 3180803
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140803Z NOV 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3011
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5930
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7149

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 003840

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. MIDTERM ELECTIONS


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies gave
significant coverage November 14 to two DPP legislators who decided
to resign effective this week in protest of the party's handling of
the corruption scandal implicating President Chen Shui-bian and his
wife. News coverage also focused on follow-on investigations into
the Presidential allowance for state affairs case; and on Taipei
Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, who is to be questioned Tuesday over alleged
misuse of his special mayoral expense fund. The pro-independence
"Liberty Times," Taiwan's largest-circulation daily, ran a banner
headline on page two that said "The President: Stepping down Would
Be a Relief, But One Must Not Easily Discard One's
Responsibilities."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" criticized the DPP for
supporting President Chen, "a big corrupt criminal and a big liar."
The article said both U.S. President George W. Bush and his party
have been punished by their voters and asked if Taiwan's voters will
use their ballots to punish President Chen and the DPP and teach
them a lesson. An editorial in the limited-circulation,
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" urged Taiwan's
policy-makers to prepare for a "change in skies" in the United
States in the wake of the stunning defeat suffered by the Republican
Party in last week's midterm elections. End summary.

A) "[Do We] Need to Give 'Chen Shui-bian and DPP] Another Chance?"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (11/14):

"... Last week's U.S. midterm elections provided an opportunity from
which [Taiwan] can learn a lesson. American voters once fully
supported [U.S. President George W.] Bush's war in Iraq and war on
terrorism, but they have come to realize that the war in Iraq and
the war on terrorism contained, to a great extent, the operations of
populism. The midterm election results showed that the Republican
Party suffered a severe defeat, and Bush immediately admitted that
his Iraqi policy needs to be reviewed, and he quickly ordered
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down. American voters are
awake now, but what about Taiwan's voters? Bush and his party have
been punished by their voters and have learned their lesson; will
President Chen Shui-bian and the DPP be punished by their voters and
learn their lesson as well? What's more, Bush's loss of public
support is primarily a result of his policy errors, but Chen, on the
other hand, is a big corrupt criminal and a big liar. ..."

B) "U.S. Polls Mean Change in Skies"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (11/14):

"Taiwan policy-makers should begin to prepare for a 'change in
skies' in the United States after the stunning defeat handed to the
right-wing Republican administration of U.S. President George W.
Bush by the Democratic Party in mid-term congressional elections
earlier this month. ... The nature of the Senate and gubernatorial
results in particular may serve as a bellwether for the November
2008 presidential election since they revealed shifts in several key
states. ... The most important reason is that such a change
promises the world hope that the world's most powerful nation may
return to internationalism after two terms of Bush's fundamentalist
'America First' unilateralism. ... Although Bush's administration
has generally been supportive of Taiwan in security and defense
matters, Bush has also periodically put intense pressure on Taiwan
to complement his unilateralist agenda and has subordinated Taiwan's
democratic deepening to Washington's efforts to build a partnership
with Beijing in areas such as the North Korean nuclear weapons
crisis. ..."

YOUNG

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