Cablegate: Media Reaction: Dpp Presidential Candidate Frank Hsieh's
DE RUEHIN #1690/01 2102339
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 292339Z JUL 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6175
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7067
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8312
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001690
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD DEPARTMENT PASS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: DPP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE FRANK HSIEH'S
U.S. TRIP, TAIWAN'S UN BID
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage July 27 on DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's trip to
the United States, on Taiwan's bid to join the United Nations, on
the plunging Taiwan stock price index Thursday, and on a local
teenager who killed his father Thursday. The pro-independence
"Liberty Times," Taiwan's largest-circulation daily, ran a banner
headline on page two that read "Taiwan People's Expectation and
Rage: A Big March for [Taiwan's] UN Bid to Be Held on September 15;
Millions of Letters [Will Be Sent] to 'Bombard' Ban Ki-moon."
2. In term of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed the reasons why Washington
opposes Taiwan's UN referendum and urged President Chen Shui-bian to
stop the referendum and "ward off disaster before it is too late."
An editorial in the pro-unification "United Daily News" discussed
Frank Hsieh's U.S. trip and said he has unexpectedly opened the
Pandora's Box -- namely, Hsieh's remarks have evidently clashed with
those of President Chen Shui-bian, who, in response, has positioned
himself on the high ground of Taiwan independence. An editorial in
the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" discussed
U.S.-China-Taiwan relations as well as the values shared by Taiwan
and the United States. With regard to Taiwan's UN bid, an op-ed in
the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" said the United States is in
no position to oppose Taiwan's UN referendum, because it is already
too late and because Washington is no longer justified in doing so.
A separate "Taipei Times" op-ed said Taiwan's flexibility is of no
help on the sovereignty issue. End summary.
3. DPP Presidential Candidate Frank Hsieh's U.S. Trip
A) "Rein in a Horse at the Edge of a Precipice -- Ward off Disaster
before It Is Too Late"
The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
"Very much to Frank Hsieh's surprise, almost all the think tank
scholars and political figures he met in the United States have
unanimously articulated strong opposition to Taiwan's referendum on
joining the United Nations. The reason [for these people's
opposition] is actually very simple. The move is viewed as one that
is aimed at using Taiwan as the island's national name and its UN
bid as a smokescreen, in an attempt to conduct a popular vote on
changing the island's national title. Once the referendum is
passed, it will surely embarrass the Chinese leaders, who, in turn,
will be forced to take action, and the consequence will be that
China will have to confront the United States and thus disrupt the
latter's global strategic deployment. ...
"In addition to the aforementioned reasons, other reasons behind the
United States' strong opposition to [Taiwan's] UN referendum
include: First, [Washington] cannot accept the fact that it is
being restrained by Taiwan, nor will it possibly walk into a trap
set by Taiwan to wage war with China. Second, it can mitigate
China's anxiety and rage if it is the United States that comes
forward to admonish Taiwan and hold down its plan on the UN
referendum. As a result, Washington has to take a strong stance so
as to prevent China from making any reckless moves. Third,
Washington and Beijing each use disciplining Taipei and Pyongyang as
quid pro quo. If the United States fails to curb Taiwan, China will
not do anything to restrain North Korea, or vice versa. Fourth, now
is a critical moment for the war on terrorism. Given the fact that
the war in Iraq has triggered protests in the United States, it is
better not to start any conflicts [in other parts of the world].
This paper wants to urge President Chen to ward off disaster before
it is too late. He must not turn hostile toward the United States
and put all the Taiwan people under great risk just for his face and
B) "Frank Hsieh Has Opened Pandora's Box"
The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
"Frank Hsieh's original plan was to use his U.S. trip to boost his
campaign but, unexpectedly, he has opened Pandora's Box. First,
clashes between Bian's and Hsieh's discourses have escalated. Bian
has evidently positioned himself on the high ground to dictate the
issue, while Hsieh is marginalized in terms of his campaign
discourse. Second, under such circumstances, the possibility of the
'Hsieh-Su ticket' is quickly on the rise, which will put Hsieh
completely under Chen Shui-bian's shadow. ...
"... The worst clashes between Hsieh and Bian is that to 'placate'
Washington, Hsieh said he has openly announced his 'Three Nos' --
namely, there is no need for a referendum on Taiwan independence,
for Taiwan independence movements, or for Taiwan to declare
independence. Hsieh's remarks were appeared to be in sharp
opposition to Chen's 'Four Nos and One Without.' In particular, be
it a verbal mistake or not, the sentence 'there is no need for
Taiwan independence movements' has totally contradicted the
fundamental doctrines of the DPP. To no one's surprise, within a
few hours following Hsieh's remarks, Chen pointed out in Taipei as a
challenge to Hsieh that 'Taiwan's future and [the development of]
cross-Strait relations should be decided via a referendum.' Chen's
statement has evidently exceeded the 'UN referendum,' and all the
more, by aiming at Hsieh's 'Three Nos,' Chen seized this opportunity
to take the high ground on the independence referendum. ..."
C) "Taiwan and American Values"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (7/27):
"For all of the talk of tension between them, it is perfectly clear
that Washington makes demands of the Taiwanese government on the
assumption that the two share fundamental interests. Taiwan's
resulting burden, as a de facto US ally, involves coming to terms
with being treated -- and sometimes spoken to -- like an errant
schoolchild. This patronizing tone can be difficult to tolerate,
especially for those among pro-independence forces who suffered for
years to create a society that shares the best of American values.
The tone becomes genuinely unbearable, however, when it threatens to
have a chilling effect on the Taiwanese who are most sympathetic to
the US. ...
"In recent years, it is these people -- not just President Chen
Shui-bian -- who helped to create an impression among US officials
that Taiwanese are troublesome, scattershot in their approach and
unreliable in their allegiances. By the same token, it is clear
that the political-academic establishment in Washington does not
adequately comprehend the fundamentals of Taiwanese politics. It is
as if they assume Taiwan to have the quasi-monolithic features of an
autocratic party-state such as China. Consequently, the lion's
share of the blame for military and diplomatic tensions falls on the
government and not the hardline legislature that has handicapped it.
Rarely are domestic factors such as these given the weight they
deserve in accounting for political developments, which is odd
considering how little political change there is in cross-strait
"It is also becoming abundantly clear, for example, that in the
bowels of the US Department of State there are advisers who look
upon Taiwanese as collectively responsible -- that is to say,
irresponsible -- for the difficulties in the US-China relationship.
... Keeping Washington happy while furthering the interests of
Taiwanese self-determination is a perplexing task, but it is one
that has proceeded reasonably successfully under the Chen
administration, notwithstanding its many failures. Washington and
the State Department in particular, like to imply that Chen is
hurting the Taiwan-US relationship. But it Democratic Progressive
Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh wins the next election,
they will quickly discover that the job description for a leader
protecting this democracy from tyrants includes this enduring
dilemma: Standing up to China inevitably involves treading on a lot
of American toes. But it is not inevitable that Washington or
Americans should perceive these actions as a slight against them.
On the contrary: It is an affirmation of the same values that make
the US powerful and that sustain its dignity even when its
credibility in the international community is at low ebb."
4. Taiwan's UN Bid
A) "The United States Is in No Position to Oppose Taiwan's UN
Professor Edward Chen of Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of
American Studies opined in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times"
[circulation: 400,000] (7/27):
"Recently, officials in Washington D.C. have more than once informed
Taipei via various channels that the United States is opposed to
Taiwan holding a referendum on joining the UN. Washington believes
that such a referendum is a move approaching the red line, and there
is only a thin line between it and the referendum on independence.
But judging from the following reasons, the United States is no
longer in a position to oppose Taiwan's UN referendum.
"First, since Washington already reacted too slowly to this issue,
it is obviously too late for it to do anything right now. It has
been at least more than a month since Chen Shui-bian announced
formally that the island will enter the UN under the name Taiwan.
In reality, his attempt to push Taiwan's bid to join the World
Health Organization using the name Taiwan is a prelude of Taiwan's
UN referendum. It has been nearly a year since Chen tossed off
probingly last year issues one after another such as name change,
U.S. TRIP, TAIWAN'S UN BID
writing a new constitution, the Second Republic, and Taiwan's UN
referendum. Almost every political party in Taiwan is aware that it
would be fine if Chen decided not to play the game of holding a
referendum in tandem with major elections, but should he decide to
do so, he will definitely pick the biggest one - namely, the
referendum on Taiwan's UN bid. It is thus evident that Washington
has missed the optimal timing to oppose [such a referendum].
Second, since the United States 'started with a bang and ended with
a fizzle' when it opposed the DPP's holding a defensive referendum
in 2004, Washington is no longer justifiable in taking the lead to
oppose Taiwan's UN referendum this time. ...
"Third, either Washington or Beijing must analyze first the
advantages and disadvantages of Taiwan's UN referendum. What
Washington and Beijing are really opposed to should be the
'disguised independence referenda' on Taiwan's future and the formal
'referendum on Taiwan independence.' Frank Hsieh has stated and
pledged that he will not push for an independence referendum after
he is elected. But Chen, with a short remainder term of office,
instead, likely will rush headlong into danger. The red line that
Washington and Beijing should draw should be on a formal 'referendum
on Taiwan independence' or a disguised 'independence referendum,'
not the UN referendum. ...
"Neither Washington nor Beijing believes that Taiwan independence is
in their national interests. In order to give the momentum of
anti-independence going, however, both Washington and Beijing should
adjust their positions. ... Washington should convince Beijing that
even though Taiwan's UN referendum in of high political sensitivity,
the passage of such a referendum does not indicate that Taiwan will
be admitted into the UN. Such a move thus has no worries about
changing the status quo. Rather, Washington and Beijing joining
hands to block Taiwan's UN referendum will cause Chen to stake
everything on a single throw of dice and push for a disguised
independence referendum or a formal referendum on Taiwan
independence, which will truly alter the cross-Strait status quo."
B) "Flexibility of No Help on Issue of Sovereignty"
Lai I-chung, head of the DPP's Department of International Affairs,
opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (7/27):
"... Taiwan's past flexibility on the issue of sovereignty in
international contexts has only emboldened China to step up
propaganda in support of its 'one China' fantasy. This has allowed
China to make its 'one China' concept international. As a result,
many countries are completely apathetic to China's aggressive
promotion of the 'one China' principle. This has gone so far as to
lead UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to say that Taiwan is part of
China, which is a blatant denial of the political reality. ...
"What all of this means is that we need to abandon the strategy of
avoiding conflict by being flexible on our sovereignty. It is time
to make Taiwan's opinion on its sovereignty clear to the world. ...
The only course of action is to let the UN know that Taiwan -- not
only its government, but also its people -- wants to become a
member. This will force it to stop turning a blind eye to the fact
that our population is not represented at the UN."