Cablegate: Media Reaction: Dpp Presidential Candidate Frank Hsieh's
DE RUEHIN #1694/01 2110937
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300937Z JUL 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6182
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7070
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8317
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001694
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
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 28-30 on the tumbling of Taiwan's stock price index,
which fell 4.2% last Friday; on DPP presidential candidate Frank
Hsieh's visit to the United States; on Taiwan's bid to join the
United Nations; on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal
Democratic Party's defeat in the Japanese upper house elections; and
on the 2008 presidential poll. The centrist, KMT-leaning "China
Times" ran a banner headline on page four that read "Consequence of
[Taiwan's] UN Referendum? Trouble Arises with Regard to Ma
[Ying-jeou's Upcoming] Trip to the United States." Also, almost all
papers carried the remarks by the U.S. State Department Friday that
President Chen Shui-bian's push for joining the United Nations under
the name "Taiwan" has violated his pledge of "not changing the
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" criticized DPP presidential
candidate Frank Hsieh for having promised the United States that he
will not hold a referendum on unification or independence. A column
in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" said Hsieh's feigning surprise
with the U.S.'s strong reaction to Taiwan's UN referendum was aimed
at winning over the Americans' support for him. A "China Times"
column expressed worry that the simple wish of the Taiwan people to
join the international community may be intensified into strong
indignation under deliberate campaign manipulation. A column in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" said no one in the U.S.
executive branch is willing to speak in favor of President Chen any
more, and there is not much Hsieh can do now. With regard to
Taiwan's UN bid, an editorial in the conservative, pro-unification,
English-language "China Post" said Taiwan's new bid for UN
membership is a foolish and futile move. An op-ed in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times," however, urged
Taiwan not to give up on its UN bid. A separate "China Post"
editorial, on the other hand, categorized President Chen Shui-bian's
remarks on the Taiwan Relations Act as if he wants to practice law
in the United States. End summary.
3. DPP Presidential Candidate Frank Hsieh's U.S. Trip
A) "The Flaws in Frank Hsieh's U.S. Visit"
Commentator Cao Changqing opined in the pro-independence "Liberty
Times" [circulation: 720,000] (7/30):
"... In his speech, Frank Hsieh made two promises to the U.S.: if he
wins the presidential election, he will not hold a referendum on
unification or independence, nor will he orchestrate a movement
toward Taiwan independence. Hsieh's promises have caused
dissatisfaction from several people, because the promises are
problematic in at least two aspects. First, the promises are
self-contradictory. Hsieh said that the reason for 'not holding a
referendum on unification or independence' is because Taiwan is
already a sovereign, independent country. However, if Taiwan is
already a sovereign independent country (especially a democratic
one), then any referendum is not only a 'domestic affair,' but is
also one of the basic rights of its people. This right cannot be
transferred, traded, or sold.
"With regard to the 'Taiwan independence movement,' it is
substantially a 'country normalization' movement: to make 'Taiwan' a
genuine normal country through referenda and establishment of a
constitution. That Frank Hsieh made a compromise on such an
important issue is making 'cutting corners' on important ideas and
principles, such as 'civic rights' and 'freedom of choice.'
"Second, Hsieh is eating his words. ... Three months after Hsieh
promised on TV that he will not abide by [President Chen
Shui-bian's] 'Four Nos and One Without', Hsieh made an explicit
promise to the U.S. side that he 'will not hold a referendum on
unification or independence' if he wins the presidential election.
[Frank Hsieh is] a politician who does not value integrity, and who
makes a promise even without any U.S. pressure. What kind of
compromise will he make in the future if he is really under
pressure? It is worrisome.
"... After Hsieh arrived in the U.S., he refrained from mentioning
'constitutional reform and name change' or normalization to a
country, but he tried to curry favor for the U.S. administration and
emphasized the 'status quo' to let the U.S. rest assured, and to
allow Hsieh be trusted. Even after the U.S. Department of State
openly opposed Taiwan to 'join the UN under the name of Taiwan,'
Hsieh did not fight for Taiwan but said that the U.S. opposition is
'understandable.' How can it be understandable? It completely
violates the foundations of the United States and the principle of
B) "Frank Hsieh's Preventive Measure in Terms of Internal Affairs"
U.S. TRIP, TAIWAN'S UN BID
Columnist Antonio Chiang noted in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 510,000] (7/30):
"... Taiwan and the United States have many communication channels.
Various people had already briefed Frank Hsieh prior to his visit to
the United States, so he was clearly aware of the U.S. position.
Even though being in the United States in person might be a
different matter, Hsieh should not have been too surprised by the
U.S. reaction. Hsieh is a smart person, and his feigning surprise
could be a way to draw a line between himself and A-Bian, and also,
to indicate that he is flexible enough to be trained and he will
thus have more room [than A-Bian] to adjust his policies. Americans
must be very fond of his surprise.
"The United States spent plenty of time meeting and talking with
Hsieh, this is a kind of 'preventive diplomacy.' Hsieh, in return,
has been trying every way he could to win over the Americans, which
can also be viewed as a preventive approach. ... China's Taiwan
Affairs Office cautioned openly that [Taiwan's] referendum on
joining the United Nations has crossed the red line in terms of
cross-Strait relations. It goes without saying that such remarks
were meant to pave the way for the U.S. reaction afterwards. It was
also a preventive measure in an attempt to increase credibility for
Washington's good-intentioned admonition [against Taiwan]. ..."
C) "Communication or Not?"
The "Short Commentary" column in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China
Times" [circulation: 400,000] wrote (7/28):
"No matter how hard DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh has tried
to communicate with the United States this time, the gap between the
two sides over Taiwan's UN referendum remains the same. Hsieh's
trip this time, as a result, has become a journey of 'listening to
[Washington's] lecturing.' In terms of its results, yes, Hsieh has
at least learned a lot of first-hand information from the United
States. What needs to be pondered on, though, is that if Washington
does view Taiwan's UN referendum as a matter of great substance, it
should have conveyed the same message to President Chen Shui-bian
via appropriate channels in the beginning. How come such a message
has never been made public? Was it because the high-ranking
officials in the Presidential Office disregarded it, or they have
been trying to cover it up?
"Joining the United Nations has been an unfailing wish of the Taiwan
people, and referenda are also a normal practice to express public
opinion in democratic countries. For the general public, the UN
referendum is simply a way that they hope to use to express the
voice of their heart, so that the international community can accept
Taiwan; they do not mean it to be a public vote on independence,
neither do they want to declare independence immediately. The
strong opposition of big countries such as the United States, though
not unexpected, did hurt the Taiwan people's feelings. ....
"Given the international reality, the United Nations cannot possibly
accept [Taiwan's application], and the UN referendum will not make
the Republic of China disappear or change it into the Republic of
Taiwan. But the trust between Taiwan and the United States is
seriously damaged, and the chances are slim for the UN referendum to
stop, as Chen Shui-bian has obvious no intention to compromise. As
a result, the simple wish of the Taiwan people to participate in the
international community will perhaps be intensified, under
deliberate campaign manipulation, into stronger indignation and a
sense of victimization."
D) "What Else Can Frank Hsieh Do?"
Journalist Sun Yang-ming wrote in the "United Notes" column in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (7/29):
"According to the United States' way of putting it, the message
Frank Hsieh got during his trip to the United States this time, was
consistent and cold. Washington did not accept the argument that
'Chen Shui-bian is an ideologist while Hsieh is a pragmatist.' ...
Beijing has defined the UN referendum pushed by the Bian
administration as a move that touches on the bottom line of the
Anti-Secession Law has conveyed such a position to Washington.
Washington also identified with Beijing's position and, worst of
all, no one in the executive branch in Washington is willing to
speak on behalf of the Bian Administration. In addition to
offending [U.S. President George W.] Bush, Bian has also annoyed two
main agencies in charge of the Taiwan policy - namely, the State
Department and the National Security Council. ... The [Taiwan
authorities] were hoping to purchase six Boeing 787 airplanes in
exchange for A-Bian's transit through the continental U.S. in
August. But the deal has already fallen through. Now no one in
Washington is willing to run the risks of infuriating Bush and
sending the case [of Chen's planned transit] to Bush's desk. ...
U.S. TRIP, TAIWAN'S UN BID
Given such circumstances, what else can Hsieh do?"
4. Taiwan's UN Bid
A) "New United Nations Bid a Foolish as well as Futile Move"
An editorial in the pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] wrote (7/28):
"The rejection of the application for U.N. membership under Taiwan
as the official name was a development that President and his team
knew very well would happen when they submitted the proposal. Both
the United Nations and mainland China would be firmly opposed to it.
All those who are well acquainted with the DPP's character and
President Chen's propensity must be aware of the real motive behind
the recent attempt to achieve U.N. membership. A series of important
elections are looming on the island. Their results will have a major
bearing on the destinies of the ruling party and the opposition. The
DPP, which has been pushing Taiwan independence over the years, has
been relying on divisive tactics to win votes.
"The DPP has been impotent as the ruling party. Most of the economic
and social problems plaguing the island have been as serious as
ever. Some of them have grown worse. The island has declined
economically while the other Asian Tigers -- Singapore, Hong Kong
and South Korea -- have progressed. The ruling party is therefore
trying to spread the idea that it is the defender of the interests
of the Taiwanese and that its political opponent is selling out the
island to the Chinese mainland. The DPP was thinking of the
outcomes of the upcoming elections when it was applying for U.N.
membership. Its purpose was to arouse anti-China sentiment among
How much anti-China feeling has been aroused by the failed attempt
is unclear. However, it is certainly true that Taiwan has been
embarrassed and shamed by this foolish act."
B) "Don't Give Up on a UN Bid that is Clearly Fair"
Li To-tzu, a legislative assistant, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (7/29):
"... It was interesting that [UN Secretary-General] Ban used the [UN
2758] resolution, which he said had already decided the question of
Chinese representation, to reject Taiwan's application. Taiwan has
two points to protest. First, countries applying to enter the UN as
new members notify the secretary-general as a courtesy. The
secretary-general is not authorized to reject it.
"Second, Taiwan applied as a new member, thereby avoiding the
question of representing China. The resolution that Ban cited
applies to the question of who represents China, not the question of
who represents Taiwan. Based on these two points, Taiwan should
extend the battle lines in its effort to join the UN. The ultimate
goal would be to reach an international arbitration court to fight a
lawsuit over Taiwan's position, and confirm that the resolution has
no binding power over questions not concerning the right to
represent China. ..."
C) "Chen Wants to Practice Law"
An editorial in the pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] wrote (7/30):
"With his second and last term coming to an end in less than a year,
President Chen Shui-bian seems planning to practice law in the
United States. ... The case in question is China versus the U.S.
In meeting members of the Congressional Black Caucus at his office,
President Chen charged the People's Republic of China with violating
the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. ...
"... With due respect, we wish to point out President Chen, who is
one of Taiwan's best defense lawyers, has no grounds to indict the
People's Republic of China in any U.S. court of law for violation of
the Taiwan Relations Act, which is a domestic law the Congress
forced upon Jimmy Carter's administration following the severance of
diplomatic ties between Washington and Taipei at the beginning of
1979. ... The concern and aims expressed in the TRA do not forbid
Beijing to obstruct Taiwan's readmission to the WHO and the UN.