Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Referendum On Un Bid, North Korea,
DE RUEHIN #1610/01 1990913
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180913Z JUL 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6034
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7037
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8283
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001610
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - BROOKE SPELLMAN
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: TAIWAN'S REFERENDUM ON UN BID, NORTH KOREA,
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused July 18
news coverage on the 2008 presidential election, on the aftermath of
a nationwide amnesty implemented Monday, and on a business scandal
involving senior financial officials. The pro-unification "United
Daily News" front-paged an exclusive news story with the headline
"Imported U.S. Pork Contains [Animal] Medicine Banned [in Taiwan]."
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times," ran an exclusive interview
with Vice President Annette Lu on page four, which carried a banner
headline that said "Annette Lu: Referendum on [Taiwan's] UN Bid Is
to Use Taiwan's Sovereignty as Gambling Stake."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" commented on former AIT chairperson
Therese Shaheen's recent remarks and the island's UN bid. The
article called on the Taiwan people to send out clear signals to the
world about Taiwan's interest in participating in the international
community as an independent sovereign state. A "China Times" column
discussed the Bush administration's policies toward North Korea and
Iran. The article said Washington will level immense pressure on
Iran while making concessions wherever it can toward North Korea.
An editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" cautioned the world to pay attention to China's unfair trade
practices. End summary.
3. Taiwan's Referendum on UN Bid
"Taiwan's Mainstream Public Opinion Is Already Apparent; [the
Island] Must No Longer Send out Ambiguous Signals"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 500,000]
"Former AIT Chairwoman Therese Shaheen recently pointed out that the
United States is a democratic country, which will not overlook other
countries' wish to 'cry out loud for freedom.' She suggested that
the Taiwan people vote in favor of a candidate that [seeks to]
maintain Taiwan's interests instead of one that maintains the
interests of the United States or China. ...
"The U.S. State Department has expressed opposition to the
referendum on 'Taiwan's bid to join the United Nations under the
name Taiwan.' But Shaheen said the United States would not have
concerned itself with such a move had China not complained to
Washington about it. ... The United States and Taiwan are both
democratic countries. Would the United States suppress democratic
Taiwan just to cater to totalitarian China if the democratic choice
made by the Taiwan people triggers savage intimidation from China?
"Taiwan's referendum on the island's UN bid carries uncommon
significance both for the island and for the outside world. For the
island itself, the referendum is a move to use direct democracy to
strike back at the surviving forces of an alien regime, in an
attempt to prevent the forces from taking advantage of democracy,
thus ruining it, and associating Taiwan with China. Externally, it
is a move to oppose annexation by China's hegemony and to state
clearly to the international community that it wishes to stop the
illusion of ultimate unification [between Taiwan and China]. Just
as Shaheen has done, the Taiwan people must send out clear signals.
Only by doing so will the international community adjust its
unrealistic policy toward Taiwan, and transform their ambiguous
[policy] of 'maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait' into
one clear [policy] of 'maintaining Taiwan's status as an independent
4. North Korea
"[Christopher] Hill's Prophecy Has Good Grounds"
The "International Outlook" column in the centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times" [circulation: 400,000] stated (7/18):
"... the U.S. representative [at the Six-Party Talks], Christopher
Hill, is not a prophet, but what he prophesies usually comes true,
because what he revealed was the Bush administration's current
policy. ... Bush's policy is very clear -- namely, [Washington]
will level tremendous pressure and relentless saber-rattling on
Iran, but for Pyongyang, it will make concessions wherever it can.
During the remainder of Bush's term of office, he will make
conciliatory arrangements in terms of the [nuclear program] on the
Korean Peninsula, but in the Persian Gulf, he will not hesitate to
use force against Iran. Such a strategy is in reality an approach
that only picks on the weak. Pyongyang has the support of China,
Russia and Seoul at its back. The United States is unable to
destroy it diplomatically, and it is afraid that Pyongyang will grow
desperate and resort to nuclear weapons should the United States use
force against it. [Should this happen], the U.S. soldiers deployed
in South Korea and Japan will all encounter disaster. But Iran is a
different issue. It is almost entirely isolated. Washington can
befriend the European Union and ask it to jointly impose diplomatic
pressure on Iran and in the meantime, the United States can use sea
and air forces to attack Iran. [Should this happen,] the war will
not expand, but it will cause oil prices to rise for a short period
5. China's Economy
"Time for China to Take the Long View"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (7/18):
"China's economy will replace Germany as the world's third-largest
by the end of this year. But behind such sparkling figures,
economic friction and displeasure are brewing. As China becomes the
world's factory and builds huge trade surpluses, there are growing
complaints in the US, the EU and Asia about its unfair trade
practices. There are also growing concerns over the poor quality
and health standards of Chinese goods and other products. ... US
President George W. Bush's administration has repeatedly criticized
the Chinese government for keeping the yuan's exchange rate
artificially low and for not doing enough to enforce intellectual
property laws and punish factories that make fake products. The US'
complaints reflect the feelings of many countries that are fed up
with the deluge of Chinese products and having Beijing turn a deaf
ear to their complaints. ...
"China's double-digit trade growth naturally provokes envy, but as
its exports become increasingly integrated in the world economy and
as Beijing's foreign reserves grow, domestic and international
pressure will do so, too. The Chinese government may help
short-term development by ignoring or disrespecting the rules of
international trade, but this strategy will only plant the seeds for
international animosity. That's bad for long-term economic
development and China's international image. Once a commercial
reputation is damaged, restoring it is a long and difficult process.
Taiwanese businesses manufacturing goods in China should take
precautions, lest they be tarred by the same brush."