Cablegate: Media Reaction: Dpp Presidential Candidate Frank Hsieh's
DE RUEHIN #1702/01 2120913
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 310913Z JUL 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6196
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7076
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8323
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001702
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: As DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's U.S. trip
and Taiwan's bid to join the United Nations remain in the spotlight
of the Taiwan media, news coverage on July 31 focused on the rising
oil prices and on the 2008 presidential poll. The pro-independence
"Liberty Times," Taiwan's largest-circulation daily, ran an
exclusive banner headline on page two that said "The [UN
Secretariat's] Statement That Taiwan Is Part of China Is
Inconsistent with the U.S. Policy and Position; the United States
Will Negotiate with UN [over the Matter]." The mass-circulation
"Apple Daily," in the meantime, ran a banner headline on page eight
that read "Frank Hsieh: the United States Opposes [Taiwan's] UN
Referendum, and the Consequences [of Taiwan's Holding such a
Referendum] Is Imaginable." The sub-headline added "[Hsieh] Meets
with Bian Immediately after He Returns; [Both] Infer Possible
Punitive Measures from the United States."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times" op-ed
said DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh should not have promised
the United States that he will not hold any referendum on
independence. A "Liberty Times" column said the United States has
helped Taiwan so much in the past, but the article questioned why
Washington is restraining Taiwan now. An editorial in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" questioned which Frank Hsieh is real, the
one that calls for "reconciliation and co-existence" in Taiwan, or
the one who spoke in a "cunning and caustic" manner in the United
States? An editorial in the pro-unification "United Daily News"
described the current relations between Hsieh and President Chen
Shui-bian as both having a "two-stage struggle," with the
presidential election in March, 2008 as a dividing line. An
editorial in the conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" said, despite Hsieh's good humor and eloquence, there
is no evidence showing the Hsieh has resolved the two "fundamental
U.S. concerns about the DPP's pursuit of 'Taiwan identity' and
'international space.'" With regard to Taiwan's UN bid, an "Apple
Daily" editorial said that Foreign Minister James Huang was lying
when he said Taiwan's UN referendum will not violate President
Chen's pledge not to change the island's national title. An
editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News,"
on the other hand, urged President Chen to hold a "national security
referendum" to defend any attempts to negate Taiwan's sovereignty.
3. DPP Presidential Candidate Frank Hsieh's U.S. Trip
A) "How will Frank Hsieh Amend the 'One China' Constitution?"
Luo Chih-cheng, associate professor at Department of Political
Science, Soochow University opined in the pro-independence "Liberty
Times" [circulation: 720,000] (7/31):
"... Our concern is that any promise that Taiwan leaders make to the
United States, if not cautious and comprehensive, will be used to
constrain Taiwan's external relations and internal reform. Simply
put, who will define a 'referendum on independence?' Over the past
seven years, it has been proven that, whenever Taiwan intends to
carry out any internal or external reform or push for normalization,
Washington almost always scrutinizes or even opposes these by
alleging that Taiwan might violate the pledges of the 'Four Nos and
One Without.' Obviously, Taiwan has given the United States a ruler
[as in 'twelve-inch piece of wood' - Ed.] with which to shape or
even punish Taiwan.
"Even if Mr. Hsieh considers that Taiwan is already a 'de facto'
country, the meaning of a 'de jure' 'constitutional one China' is
that Taiwan is not a country; it is merely a part of China.
Although Mr. Hsieh asserts that the unreasonableness of [Taiwan's]
'one China Constitution' should be amended, a referendum is needed
to decide whether to adopt the procedure of constitutional reform or
establishing a [new] constitution.
"But the problem is that if China views the 'referendum on joining
the United Nations under the name of Taiwan' as a variant of an
independence referendum, and while the United States has warned
continuously that the 'referendum on joining the UN' violates one of
the 'Four Noes' pledges, [namely] no change of the national title,
then won't China and the United States assert that the referendum on
constitutional reform that attempts to take out 'one China' [is] a
referendum on independence? ..."
B) "A Benefactor or a Valued Customer?"
The "Free Talk" column in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
[circulation: 720,000] wrote (7/31):
"What is the difference between a valued customer and a benefactor?
The difference is that the former pays and gets the merchandise
immediately, and gets rewards in accordance with the price. The
latter donates and helps out based on moral courage; and the one who
U.S. TRIP, TAIWAN'S UN BID
helps feels satisfied when the one who is helped expresses any word
"Then what is the United States to Taiwan, a valued customer or a
benefactor? There is hardly an affirmative answer to this question.
This is because the United States has been Taiwan's benefactor in
an earlier period, sending forces without hesitation to help defend
Taiwan and effectively constraining China from invading Taiwan when
Taiwan was at its most difficult time, such as the Korean War, the
1947 shelling [of Kinmen/Quemoy], and the 1996 crisis in the Taiwan
"However, the U.S. attitude towards Taiwan seems to have changed
recently. After A-bian made the pledges of 'Four Nos and One
Without,' the U.S. started to consider itself as a valued customer,
and has started to use Chen's pledges as an inhibiting incantation
[refers to the classic picaresque novel "Journey to the West," in
which the Buddhist monk Xuanzang kept the monkey king under control
through a magic incantation that caused his crown to tighten on his
head -- Ed.] or a chastity memorial archway [a "pailou" gate
constructed to memorialize a faithful wife or mother] to demand that
Taiwan not cross the line; otherwise, it will start reading the
incantation and make Taiwan headache, roll on the ground, and obey.
"... Over the past few decades, the United States has helped Taiwan
so much that Taiwan people have already carved the statue of this
benefactor in their hearts. The most dreadful thing is if the
benefactor becomes a valued customer and embarrasses the Taiwan
C) "Which Is the Real Frank Hsieh?"
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
"... DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh, who has always
advocated reconciliation and co-existence, has recently concluded a
trip to the United States and returned to Taiwan. Hsieh emphasized
that his trip was highly successful. During his trip, Hsieh has
tried every way he can, using all kinds of soothing tones, tactful
and exquisite rhetoric [in communicating with Washington] in an
attempt to win the United States' trust in him. Hsieh stressed to
Washington that Chen Shui-bian insisted on pushing for the UN
referendum, and he can neither stop nor oppose it, but he added that
such a big problem will 'end by March, 2008.' In other words,
[Hsieh is telling Washington that] he will not play the games Chen
is playing now and, more importantly, he will not hold a referendum
on unification or independence. Also, Hsieh [said he will] practice
what he preaches. What Hsieh implied and did not point out directly
was that Chen may not be able to practice what he preaches. ...
"Hsieh has tried the best he can to appear to be flexible and use
precise rhetoric to please Uncle Sam, and evidently he cannot bother
himself to care about the impact his posture and rhetoric have on
[the politics] in Taiwan. Or, Hsieh is clearly aware of the
positive and negative impacts his words and deeds in the United
States would cause, so he chose to evade the important questions for
the easy in an attempt to reduce the possible damage to the minimum.
D) "March as a Dividing Line: a 'Two-Stage Struggle' between Frank
Hsieh and Chen Shui-bian"
The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
"Frank Hsieh just returned from a trip to the United States. A
general look into the relevant remarks he made there indicate very
clearly that he and Chen Shui-bian are now engaged in a 'two-stage
struggle,' with March, 2008 marking a dividing line. Hsieh's story
was as follows: First, the 'UN referendum' should be blamed on Chen
because 'foreign affairs are within the authority of the president.'
Second, he hopes Washington will distinguish him from Chen and will
not let him lose the presidential election just because of its
opposition to Chen. Third, the UN referendum is not aimed at
reaching a real objective but at inciting the public; in other
words, it is just a campaigning ploy. Fourth, the DPP is now under
the control of Chen; Hsieh cannot stop the UN referendum, or else
the DPP will fall apart. Fifth, all this confusion and trouble will
come to an end in March, 2008 when Hsieh is elected and Chen loses
his power to dictate the issues. 'Everything will remain boisterous
until May, 2008.' ...
"Hsieh divided the struggle [between himself and Chen] into 'two
stages' in the hope that the United States and middle-of-the-road
voters could sympathize with him in his need to forbear and act
involuntarily during the first stage of campaign season, and keep
hope on him regaining control in the second stage after the
U.S. TRIP, TAIWAN'S UN BID
presidential election. Thus, Hsieh was telling the United States:
Just let Chen cause trouble until next March, and I can domesticate
him in March when I am elected! ... March is the dividing line
drawn by Hsieh; it was drawn by neither the DPP, nor Chen."
E) "Chen Mars Hsieh's U.S. Trip"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
"... There is no evidence that despite his good humor and eloquence,
Hsieh resolved the two fundamental U.S. concerns about the DPP's
pursuit of 'Taiwan identity' and 'international space.' These
topics are inherently provocative and therefore risky to peace in
the Taiwan Strait, given the stated views and implicit threats of
the PRC over the past 30 years. China is alarmed about the
referendum and other steps that Chen might take in his final months
in office that could challenge China's claim to sovereignty over
Taiwan and compel a decision to use force against the island under
Article 8 of its Anti-Secession Law."
4. Taiwan's UN Bid
A) "Foreign Minister Telling a Lie"
The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 510,000]
"... Any country attempting to join the United Nations must use its
formal national name, because only sovereign states are allowed to
join the world body. Why does A-Bian want to hold a referendum,
since he is clearly aware that there is no hope for Taiwan to join
the UN? This is because he intends to [show the public that] once
the referendum on the island's UN bid under the name Taiwan gets
passed, it would mean that the island has to give up the name of the
Republic of China, since what says in the referendum is that Taiwan
is the island's national name. Whether Taiwan can enter the UN
really doesn't matter at all. But the United States has seen
through his intention to change the island's national title via a
referendum, so it expressed strong opposition to such a move. As a
result, logically speaking, [Foreign Minister] James Huang's remarks
that the referendum will not violate [Taiwan's] pledge not to change
its national title is nothing but a lie."
B) "Let Our Votes Show PRC Does Not Represent Taiwan"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
"... In the wake of Ban's attempt to lend the U.N. credibility to
Beijing's attempt to annex Taiwan, we believe President Chen had no
choice whatsoever in issuing an official application to join the
U.N. to reaffirm the fact that Taiwan is decidedly not represented
by the PRC. If Ban and Beijing persist in the false claim the PRC
represents the 23 million people of Taiwan, we believe that a public
and decisive experiment to test this claim can be arranged together
with the March 22 presidential election besides the DPP-sponsored
referendum on whether we should join the U.N. under the name of
" Ban's statements mark a dangerous declaration by the leader of the
world's international community that Taiwan's people are not
represented by their own democratically elected government but by
the authoritarian regime of a foreign power, a claim reminiscent of
Nazi Germany dictator Adolf Hitler's claim to Austria and
Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. Hence, we urge President Chen to
consider calling for a 'national security' referendum to ask all of
the citizens of Taiwan to vote for or against the simple question of
'do you accept that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of
China?' Such a referendum topic would not transgress any 'red line'
as it would not touch on the question of 'independence of
unification,' involve any 'declaration of independence,' change our
national moniker or flag nor alter Taiwan's current status in any