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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraq Study Group Report, Taiwan's Mayoral

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #4111/01 3470907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130907Z DEC 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3426
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6087
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7315

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 004111

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: IRAQ STUDY GROUP REPORT, TAIWAN'S MAYORAL
ELECTIONS


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to
focus their coverage December 13 on the aftermath of Saturday's
Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections, and on alleged vote-buying
in Kaohsiung. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a commentary
in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed the Iraq Study Group
Report, saying that the report will not become an internal consensus
of the United States, but it will become a point of reference for
future debates. With regard to Saturday's mayoral elections, an
editorial in the pro-unification "United Daily News" discussed KMT
Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's quandary in the wake of the elections. An
editorial in the limited-circulation, pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News" said the election results "sent a
ringing message" to hostile China. End summary.

2. Iraq Study Group Report

"Iraq Study Group Report Will Be Unable to Become a Consensus"

James Tu, president of the "Apple Daily" [circulation: 500,000],
commented in his paper (12/13):

"... The final key lies in the Executive Branch. President Bush and
his national security team obviously have their own plan. They
don't want to criticize the Iraq Study Group Report in the face, but
they turned down some of the ideas raised in the report in a zigzag
manner. Now Bush is closely monitoring reactions from all sides on
the one hand and on the other hand is demanding that his own
national security team come up with a new assessment report on Iraq.
It is expected that Bush cannot possibly agree to the entire plan
proposed by James Baker and his team, but he would probably adopt
some of the ideas in the report. For Bush, the worst situation is
over, after all. All political figures are now eying the 2008
elections, while Bush is the only one who has no such pressure. He
wants to make the best use of the remaining two years of his term to
direct Iraq and the Middle East onto the track he desires, and he
wants to consider calmly his place in history.

"The Iraq Study Group Report will not become an internal consensus
of the United States. But no matter whether a consensus is formed,
this report will become a point of reference for future debates
after all; it is regarded as a success simply based on this point.
James Baker and others [who worked on the report] should be able to
congratulate themselves for not having worked in vain over the past
nine months.

3. Taiwan's Mayoral Elections

A) "Ma Ying-jeou's Quandary: Is It a Trap or a Niche [Pigeonhole]?"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (12/13):

"Ma Ying-jeou was badly injured in Saturday's [mayoral] elections.
The worst injury he suffered was people's questioning of his
'ability' and sneering at his inflexible moral burdens and the
shackles of rule of law that he wears. ... The quandary Ma is in
today is in reality a quandary facing Taiwan's politics. On the one
hand, Taiwan people are generally aware that less shrewdness, less
dishonesty, and fewer schemes are the one and only cure for Taiwan,
and perhaps this is the reason why many people place their hopes in
Ma. But on the other hand, many Taiwan people also believe that
there is no way morality and rule of law can possibly cope with the
bitter and severe political struggles in Taiwan. They believe that
under the circumstances, while one's rivals are both crafty and
dishonest, the burdens of morality and the shackles of rule of law
are analogous to 'inability' or 'incompetence.' This is probably
why many people are disappointed with or have sneered at Ma. A
distinct contrast that is worth pondering is that during the mayoral
elections, almost no one called Chen Shui-bian 'incompetent,' while
Ma was generally questioned and sneered at by people as being
'incompetent.' ...

"In reality, there are two origins for Ma's real limitations:
First, he is a second-generation Mainlander, and second, [he
carries] the KMT's historical burdens. Political figures like Chen,
who is corrupt in every way he can be and who has caused his country
to stagnate, can only possibly appear in the Green camp, yut the
public generally identifies him as a representative of 'nativist
values.' By contrast, Ma's mainland Chinese origin and his KMT
label bar him from any attempt to engage in chicanery or be
dishonest; should he play such tricks, it will only turn his image
into something like 'Chinese pigs.' Thus, it is actually not merely
Ma's nature that makes him the way he is today - deep in a trap; it
is in reality also due to his unavoidable 'historical/social' niche
[pigeonhole]. ..."

B) "Message for PRC in Mayoral Polls"
ELECTIONS

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (12/13):

"The ability of the governing Democratic Progressive Party to win
the mayoralty of Kaohsiung City by a razor-thin margin and boost its
vote share in Taipei City sent a ringing message to the hostile
People's Republic of China regime while frustrating the attempt by
the former ruling Kuomintang to turn the poll into a 'no-confidence'
vote on embattled President Chen Shui-bian. ... Voters, especially
in southern Taiwan's metropolis, rejected the KMT's hypocritical
definition of the poll as an 'action against corruption' and refused
to allow the DPP to lose Kaohsiung, an event which would surely have
been interpreted by the local and the international press as a
signal that the 'pro-unification' KMT would win back presidential
power in March 2008. In addition, this hefty share of the
electorate simultaneously demonstrated their rejection of siren
calls by KMT candidates, notably in Kaohsiung, for full
liberalization of 'direct links' in marine and sea transportation as
the panacea to Taiwan's economic pains. ...

"The 2008 presidential election will be very much significant not
only for the DPP but also for the KMT and CCP. It will be a battle
for the rivalry between Taiwanese consciousness and Chinese
consciousness. The victory of either side will mark the direction
that Taiwanese people choose to go. Moreover, the international
community has also a major stake in the results, which will
determine whether Taiwan and its 23 million people remain in the
world democratic community or begin a slide into the sphere of
influence of the authoritarian PRC regime. In this regard, the
United States has a responsibility as the main leader of the world
democratic community to protect the fair democratic transformation
of Taiwan and ensure that our people can determine their own
political direction and fate free of the fear of the threat of force
or the use of force by the PRC. ..."

YOUNG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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