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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. And Cross-Strait Three Links


DE RUEHIN #3957/01 3280908
R 240908Z NOV 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to focus
their coverage November 23-24 on local political issues, including
the continuing investigation into Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's
alleged misuse of the special mayoral allowance, the political
impact caused by Ma's case, and the upcoming Taipei and Kaohsiung
mayoral races. An editorial and an opinion piece in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's largest-circulation
daily, and an op-ed article in the pro-status quo "China Times,"
however, all focused on AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young's speech
to the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei on November 21, in
which he encouraged Taiwan to negotiate with China to open the three
links as early as possible. The "Liberty Times" editorial claimed
that the three links across the Taiwan Strait would ultimately lead
to the demise of the U.S. arms procurement bill, and the opinion
piece criticized Young for paying attention to U.S. business
interests alone while having no regard for Taiwan's political and
economic security. The "China Times" op-ed article judged that
Young's request for the three cross-Strait links will not become the
U.S. policy in the next two to three years. End summary.

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A) "Three Links and Direct Transportation will Ultimately Kill the
Arms Procurement Budget"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized (11/24):

"AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young delivered a speech entitled
'Tending the Garden of U.S.-Taiwan Relations' at a meeting of the
American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei on November 21. Young
pointed out that the U.S.-Taiwan partnership stands on three legs:
Taiwan's security, Taiwan's democracy, and the robust U.S.-Taiwan
bilateral economic and trade relationship. ... 'The U.S. will
continue to work to insure that Taiwan will remain a prosperous,
vibrant partner with the U.S.' - this is a statement indicating
Director Young's intention. But whether or not the so-called three
links and direct transportation can ensure Taiwan's prosperity and
vigor requires further discussion and consideration. Taiwan's cash
has been flowing into China over the past decade, and given the
[Taiwan authorities'] pro-active opening [policy] over the past six
years in particular, Taiwan's investments in China have accumulated
to US$300 billion. Evidently, it is not that Taiwan has not
invested enough in China; instead, it is [Taiwan's] excessive
investments [in China] that have put Taiwan's economy into a
predicament. ...

"... In Taiwan, the people who strongly advocate the three links are
of the pan-Blue camp. They push the three links not to develop
Taiwan's economy but in the hope of reaching the objective of
cross-Strait unification (with Taiwan being annexed by China) via
economic integration across the Taiwan Strait. China has also
claimed that Taiwan's economic reliance on China is increasing, and
Taiwan will give in politically in the event that China adopts
economic sanctions [against the island]. In other words, the
so-called three links and direct transportation will only give China
more bargaining chips in dealing with Taiwan.

"Under such circumstances, it will be like pushing Taiwan into a
great fire if people still regard the three links as a cure-all.
One can still recall that in a press conference held in late
October, Young reminded the Legislative Yuan to pass the arms
procurement budget this fall and to strengthen [Taiwan's]
self-defense capability as early as possible. If the three links
come to pass and both sides of the Taiwan Strait have a closer trade
and economic relationship, wouldn't those pan-Blue legislators who
blocked the arms procurement budget talk more proudly of opposing
the arms procurements? Wouldn't the so-called three links become an
ultimate killer of the arms procurement budget? Should this happen,
wouldn't [Young's] statement that 'Taiwan should not fear closer
ties with its huge and rapidly growing neighbor, so long as it
retains its ability to defend itself' become empty talk?

"The discussion of the three links cannot be done simply from the
perspective of the U.S. or Taiwan businesses but should focus on the
interests of the 300 million American people and 23 million Taiwan
people. In addition to the trade and economic relationship, what's
more important for the United States and Taiwan is their strategic
relationship. Besides, business interests are short-lived, whereas
strategic interests are long-lasting. One should not lose large
gains simply because of a trivial consideration. Young emphasized
that 'even with the dramatic rise of China's economy, Taiwan remains
extremely important to the United States,' so evidently it is not
Young who has failed to note this. We hope that Young can have a
more profound understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of
the three links from this perspective."

B) "United States Attaches Greater Importance to Business Than to

Chen Li-chu, a think tank assistant, opined in the pro-independence

"Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000] (11/23):

"AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young, in a recent speech delivered to
the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, which was entitled
'Tending the Garden of U.S.-Taiwan Relations,' called on Taiwan to
negotiate with China to open the three links as early as possible.
A closer look at Young's remarks showed that [Young] was talking
about Taiwan-U.S. trade relations from the position of U.S. business
interests only, with no regard for the impact of the three links on
Taiwan's political and economic security. It seems that
mercantilism has come back to life again for the American people in
a form that is different from what it was in the 16th or the 17th
century. ...

"Young's remarks showed very clearly that AIT views the three links
issue across the Taiwan Strait simply from the position of enhancing
the United States' best business interests. [This view] has
completely disregards the immediate and direct impact on Taiwan's
defense security, economic security, and unemployment which might
possibly be triggered by direct transportation across the Taiwan
Strait. ... The Taiwan people should condemn such a short-sighted
behavior of American mercantilism."

C) "U.S. Pressure to Push Three Links?"

Kuan Hong-chang, a Ph. D. candidate of political science at the
University of Texas at Austin, opined in the pro-status quo "China
Times" [circulation: 400,000] (11/24):

"AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young recently encouraged Taiwan to
negotiate with China to open the three links as soon as possible, in
order for Taiwan to maintain its important status in the global
supply chain and to prevent itself from being isolated from the
trend of regional integration. In the past, requests for opening
the three links often came from Taiwan businesses in mainland China,
Taiwan's local businesses and the pan-Blue camp, or even foreign
business groups in Taiwan. Calls from foreign official
representatives [for the three links] were rarely seen. It thus
remains to be seen whether the remarks by Young in the capacity of
U.S. official representative stationed in Taiwan indicated that the
United States, as a third party involved in cross-Strait issues, has
extended its concerns from political issues of cross-Strait security
to economic issues of cross-Strait trade and economic exchanges.
This writer believes that Young's remarks this time did not indicate
that the United States will turn its 'request for Taiwan to open the
three links' into an official policy toward Taiwan in the next two
to three years. ..."


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