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Cablegate: Think Tank Director Suggests 2008 Presidential Election To

VZCZCXRO3357
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #1578 1970827
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 160827Z JUL 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5990
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7027
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1229
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2001
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5969
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0406
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8274

UNCLAS TAIPEI 001578

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AIT/W, EAP/TC, INR/EAP, EAP/PD

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TW
SUBJECT: Think Tank Director Suggests 2008 Presidential Election to
be "Defining Event" for Taiwan's Future

REF: A) 2006 Taipei 0660 B) 2006 Taipei 4168

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

1. (SBU) Summary: Dr. Soong Hseik-wen, Director of National Chung
Cheng University's new Institute of Strategy and International
Affairs (ISIA), told AIT/K that the Institute's main purpose is to
promote Taiwan's democratization, localization, and security. Dr.
Soong stressed the importance of the 2008 presidential election as a
"defining event" for Taiwan's future. If Taiwan wants to pursue
independence, he argued, it must do so in the next several years
before China has grown into a superpower. End Summary.

Institute of Strategy and International Affairs
--------------------------------------------- -
2. (SBU) Funded by the central government in cooperation with
National Chung Cheng University, ISIA was founded in 2006 to promote
and support Taiwan democratization, localization, and security.
Although the Institute supports Taiwan independence, it acknowledges
the possibility of unification with China, Dr. Soong told AIT/K.
ISIA considers Taiwan currently to be an independent state and
identifies the PRC as a security threat, not only to the island, but
to East Asia as a whole. Therefore, cross-Strait relations and U.S.
foreign policy remain high on the Institute's research priorities.
The Institute receives partial funding from Taiwan's Ministry of
Defense.

3. (SBU) In addition to playing an academic role, Dr. Soong and the
Institute also serve as consultants to government committees in
order to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between scholars and
government officials. Dr. Soong told AIT/K that ISIA soon will take
a further step and play an active role in the 2008 elections, though
he declined to define what he meant by "active role."

Taiwanese Identity
------------------
4. (SBU) Democratization is fueling Taiwanese identity and
independence, Dr. Soong said. The DPP has strengthened its position
by unifying the four different ethnicities on the island (Taiwanese,
Hakka, Aborigine, and Mainlander) under one "Taiwanese identity"
umbrella. The DPP government has used a variety of tactics, such as
new education policies regarding language education and history
textbooks to establish a cohesive Taiwan identity (see ref A). Dr.
Soong predicted that nationalism will continue to grow in Taiwan and
will manifest itself in a serious push for independence (see ref B).


5. (SBU) Taiwan's democratization, its fight for international space
and the continual growth of China are all affecting the current
cross-Strait balance, according to Dr. Soong. Dr. Soong suggested
that the effects of these developments will be reflected in the
upcoming legislative and presidential elections.

2008 Elections
--------------
6. (SBU) Dr. Soong said that what is at stake in the 2008 elections
will only become clear as time goes on. Currently, the economic and
independence issues are competing for the spotlight in the
presidential election campaign. Dr. Soong predicted that
referendums will be held related to these two issues, and the people
will decide where Taiwan's priorities should lie.

7. (SBU) Although now not sufficiently unified to take any serious
steps toward independence, the Taiwanese are headed in that
direction, Dr. Soong asserted. If Taiwan wants to pursue
independence, Dr. Soong suggested, it must act within the next five
years. Otherwise, he argued, China will have grown into such a
superpower that "Taiwan's cry for independence will be silenced."
The small window of opportunity ensures the 2008 presidential
election will be a "defining event" for Taiwan's future, Dr. Soong
predicted.

Pierre-Louis

Young

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