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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations

VZCZCXYZ0017
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1466/01 1780840
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270840Z JUN 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5818
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6974
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8228

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001466

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - DAVID FIRESTEIN
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-TAIWAN RELATIONS

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage June 27 on a Taiwan High Court ruling Tuesday, in which
President Chen Shui-bian's son-in-law was sentenced to seven years
in prison for insider trading; on a controversial National
Communications Commission decision to approve the share transfer
plans of the Broadcasting Corporation of China; and on the 2008
presidential election. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an
op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times,"
written by Randall Schriver, founding partner of Armitage
International LC, offered suggestions regarding what Washington
should do in the face of Taiwan's push for a referendum on the
island's UN bid under the name "Taiwan." An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" criticized
Washington for its opposition to Taiwan's referendum on the island's
UN bid. The article said Washington is "treating the world to the
regretful and ironic scene of a mature democracy helping an
authoritarian regime strangle a young democracy." End summary.

A) "Pro-Taiwan (but Not Anti-China)"

Randall Schriver, a founding partner of Armitage International LC,
opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (6/27):

"... Why does a referendum pose difficult questions for the US
government? Why are US government officials unwilling to simply
endorse any referendum on any subject of Taiwan's choosing? The
core challenge faced by US government officials when such matters
are considered comes from the tension that emanates from asking two
questions: How can the US be pro-Taiwan, but not anti-China? And
how can the US be pro-democracy, but not pro-independence? ...

"Thus far, the proposal on the table in Taiwan rests firmly in
category three. Holding a referendum on whether or not to seek
membership in the UN under the name 'Taiwan' will be problematic for
Washington. It is a topic that seems highly symbolic (no matter the
results of the vote, there is no chance Taiwan will be admitted to
the UN under any name as long as China holds a veto) and certainly
touches on Taiwan's status (by virtue of specifying the application
should be made under the name 'Taiwan'). ... So what should the US
do in response to the desire of many in Taiwan to hold a referendum
next year? Rather than oppose Taiwan's efforts outright, officials
in Washington should encourage Taiwan to take steps that will truly
strengthen its democracy and improve the quality of governance.

"More specifically, the US can actively encourage Taiwan to employ
the tool of a national referendum to address issues that will be
consequential in improving the lives of the people in Taiwan, rather
than a more symbolic issue such as UN membership. The US should
also remind Beijing that Washington supports democracy in Taiwan,
including support for democratic methods such as conducting
referendums. Even if Taiwan ultimately does pursue a referendum on
seeking UN membership under the name 'Taiwan,' Washington should
urge Beijing to show restraint (an expression of public sentiment is
hardly casus belli), and remind China that its overall posture
toward Taiwan, which is characterized by missile deployments and
pressure on Taipei's government, is doing more to drive Taiwanese
away rather than attract them to better relations with China.

"Finally, Washington should encourage leaders in Taiwan to consider
its broader interests in bettering relations with the US versus
whatever short term gain might come from holding a symbolic
referendum. We can position ourselves for much more robust
bilateral ties across the full spectrum of activities including
trade, security, regional democracy promotion, global issues and the
like -- but not if we are consumed with squabbling over the true
intent behind a particular referendum."

B) "Blaming the Victim"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (6/27):

"The open and misguided opposition by United States President George
W. Bush to the referendum petition campaign on the question of
whether Taiwan should apply under the name of 'Taiwan' to enter the
United Nations initiated by the governing Democratic Progressive
Party has exposed the existence of an arrogant mentality of 'blaming
the victim' in Washington. Besides turning a blind eye to the
transparent campaign by the People's Republic of China to eliminate
Taiwan's international space, the U.S. government has placed blame
primarily on the DPP administration of President Chen Shui-bian for
'making trouble' and has ignored the structural reasons for the
development of Taiwan's democracy and the rise to mainstream
dominance of a Taiwan-centric identity, as displayed by the 70
percent support for the U.N. bid in opinion polls.

"As noted yesterday, the U.S. thus is now treating the world to the
regretful and ironic scene of a mature democracy helping an

authoritarian regime strangle a young democracy. ... The only way
to ensure Taiwan's autonomy, democracy and prosperity will be to
continue efforts to secure recognition by the international
community, including the U.S. and the PRC itself, for the fact of
Taiwan's independence. The drive to apply to the United Nations as
'Taiwan' is one important way to do so."

YOUNG

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