Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #1756/01 2182238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 062238Z AUG 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6265
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7099
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8347
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001756
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD -NIDA EMMONS
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-TAIWAN RELATIONS
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage August 4-6 on next year's legislators' and presidential
elections, on Taiwan's UN bid, on the joint efforts by Taiwan and
the United States in successfully capturing five illegal Chinese
immigrants at the Los Angeles International Airport Saturday; and on
the raid of an illegal local cosmetics company disguised as an
Australian firm. The pro-unification "United Daily News" ran a
banner headline on page four August 6 which said "Deputy Defense
Minister Ko Cheng-heng to Visit the United States to Pave the Way
for the [Planned Purchase of] Aegis-class Destroyers."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's largest-circulation
daily, said the United States' recent moves in bowing blindly to
communist China and suppressing democratic Taiwan have aroused
certain anti-U.S. sentiments in Taiwan. An editorial in the
pro-independence English-language "Taipei Times" also criticized
Washington's different treatments to Beijing and to Taipei. An
editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
chimed in by urging the United States to cherish Taiwan's democracy.
An editorial in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed
the subtle changes in the triangular relationship among Taipei,
Washington and Beijing recently and said such changes have put both
Washington and Beijing in a dilemma. A "Taipei Times" op-ed,
written by former AIT Chairman Nat Bellocchi, urged Washington to
establish constructive dialogue mechanism with Taiwan. End
A) "The United States' Taiwan Policy Needs to Conform to Common
Sense and Common Principles"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
"... Since [President Chen Shui-bian's] transit in the United States
en route to Central and South America is not totally necessary, the
question regarding whether he should transit the continental U.S. is
a matter that carries more symbolic than substantive significance.
Indeed, transiting the continental U.S., particularly those big
cities like New York or Los Angeles, may lead to some beneficial
results such as the non-official meetings with passionate overseas
Taiwanese, but still, there are evident restrictions to such
activities. More importantly, if those bureaucrats in the U.S.
State Department insist on making a matter out of this routine
practice and turning it into a tool to vent its complaints about the
policy of Taiwan's elected president, our nation will weigh on it as
well and will not yield [to the United States] blindly. As it
stands now, the abolition of the National Unification Council and
the National Unification Guidelines in early 2006 as well as the
plan to hold a UN referendum this year are all what an elected
president must reasonably do to comply with the mainstream public
opinion; they also indicated democratic Taiwan's sincerity in
telling the international community that it is willing to handle
peacefully its normal relations with communist China and to
participate in the international organizations.
"The United States, which proactively advocates democracy and
practices it as a universal value, should reasonably support
Taiwan's daring and resolute actions in practicing democracy and
joining the international community. It is a pity that the U.S.
executive branch has often been inconsistent in its words and deeds
when it comes to treating democratic Taiwan over the past few years:
From President Bill Clinton to President George W. Bush, from
Secretary Colin Powell to Condoleezza Rice, what one often saw was
that when they praised Taiwan as a successful story of democracy,
they were also restricted by the diplomatic needs of communist
China. Washington has constantly cited reasons such as the one
China policy or [possible] alteration to the cross-Strait status quo
to suppress [Taiwan's] procedures in concretely practicing basic
democratic principles, such as the referenda. Such inconsistency in
[the United States'] words and deeds have aroused some anti-U.S.
sentiments. ... This anti-U.S. consciousness that appeared lately
is an aversion stemming from the United States' blind bowing to
communist China and suppressing democratic Taiwan. ..."
B) "Carrots for China, Sticks for Taiwan"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (8/4):
"It's a perfect juxtaposition: In the same week that Mattel pulled
more than 1.5 million units of toys off the shelves, the US has
offered would-be superpower China technical advice on how to export
untainted food and drugs. Despite years of exponential growth, poor
Beijing is apparently still struggling with the concept of export
quality. ... Even so, the strength of the yuan and flagrant,
unpunished intellectual copyright violations are putting pressure on
members of Congress to demand retaliatory measures. With the Bush
administration in general, and the US State Department in
particular, however, it's nothing doing: Diplomacy is all. The
offer of technical assistance is sensible: Americans and their
companies have a lot at stake when China neglects responsibilities
on health and safety.
"And yet it is striking how the US consistently prefers
encouragement and dialogue over criticism and punitive measures when
it comes to the flagrant disregard for basic standards in China,
standards that the industrialized world takes for granted. If only
Taiwan consistently enjoyed such treatment from Washington. When
President Chen Shui-bian about to embark on another Central American
diplomatic tour, there are rumblings over whether the US State
Department is going to punish him for supporting a referendum on
Taiwan's entry into the UN. No punitive restrictions have been
announced, although the pro-unification China Times - a frequently
unreliable and mischievous source on US matters - claims that this
is on the way. If the State Department were to do so, it would be a
most unfortunate reflection of a monolithic view on Taiwanese
affairs and Taiwanese people. It would also be a sad coda to the
bridge-building trip to the US by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)
presidential nominee Frank Hsieh, who seems to have gone out of his
way to play ball with US officials all too easily unnerved by an
"It is understandable, though not defensible, that the State
Department would want to muzzle Chen, Even if what he says about
Taiwan and the UN is perfectly true. It is not understandable that
the State Department would so pettily use stopover rights as
punishment if Chen does not do its bidding. There are other ways to
place pressure on leaders. One is to treat ordinary Taiwanese with
a greater degree of respect. An example of this would be to grant
visa waivers for entry to the US to Taiwanese nationals, which a new
law awaiting the signature of US resident George W. bush would
allow. This kind of bottom-up pressure is not achieved, however, by
giving a head of state a smackdown for all to see. At some point,
if is wants to see results, the US government will need to speak to
ordinary Taiwanese in a manner more eloquent and constructive than
C) "U.S. Should Cherish Taiwan Democracy"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (8/6):
"... In our view, the adoption of any such measures to 'retaliate'
against either Taiwan's application to join the U.N. or against the
proposed bottom-up referendum campaigns on affiliating with the U.N.
would gravely sully the U.S.' cultivated image of the world's model
democracy. ... In his March 28 rejection of Taiwan's depositing of
its accession to the U.S.'s own Convention Against All forms of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moom shamefully endorsed Beijing's drive to unilaterally change
Taiwan's status by wrongfully declaring that "the U.N. considers
Taiwan for all purposes to be an integral party of the People's
Republic of China.
"Moreover, in his rejection of President Chen's application for
Taiwan's U.N. membership, Ban grossly misinterpreted U.N. General
Assembly Resolution 2758 of October 25, 1971 as the basis for his
claim, even though the resolution only granted the U.N. seats for
'China' to the PRC, but did not resolve or even mention the issue of
Taiwan. Regretfully, Bush has failed to openly take the U.N.
secretary-general to account for Ban's endorsement of Beijing's
attempt to annex Taiwan and may thus be betraying his own stated
ideals of "promoting democracy around the world. ...
"The drive for Taiwan to join the U.N. as an equal and contributing
member was also not manufactured by Chen, but was advocated by
Taiwan democratic movement pioneers in the late 1970s and has long
been promoted from the bottom up by a wide range of social forces,
not just the DPP. Indeed, the fact that the KMT itself has launched
a bottom-up referendum campaign for U.N. 're-entry' confirms the
depth of public feeling on this issue. ... President Chen has a
constitutional and legal right to call a 'defensive referendum' if
faced with a direct challenge to our national sovereignty to give
the Taiwan people a chance to express their voices. As it is
difficult to predict how such a decision would affect U.S.-Taiwan
relations we urge Washington, together with other democratic powers,
to cherish Taiwan's democracy and prevent the formation of a direct
threat to our sovereignty by the authoritarian PRC."
D) "Predicament and Dilemma in the Triangular Relationship among
Taipei, Washington and Beijing"
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
"The triangular relationship among Taipei, Washington and Beijing
has been in the process of subtle interactions over the past few
years. On the one hand, Washington and Beijing have attempted to
box the triangular relationship in a certain 'status quo' by
constantly announcing their positions. On the other hand, however,
the DPP in Taipei has been constantly trying and testing in an
attempt to push the envelop of the 'status quo.' ... But the
evolvement of certain situations lately has made the situation more
complicated, and it is difficult to predict how the situation will
evolve in the next stage. ...
"First, differences have unusually occurred in the strategies of the
Green leadership elites in carrying out their goals. ... As a rule,
after Frank Hsieh has formally become [the DPP] presidential
candidate, all the party operations should run with Hsieh as the
center. But what happened in reality was that each authority agency
is working its own way like a carriage drawn by many horses running
in different directions. For example, a minute ago Hsieh was
telling Washington that he will not push for a UN referendum [sic],
the next minute President Chen wrote a letter to the UN Secretariat
expressing Taiwan's position on 'applying for the UN membership
under the name Taiwan.' The party machine led by You Shyi-kun then
submitted a 'Normal Country Resolution,' which was directly aiming
at Hsieh's 'constitutional one China' doctrine. ...
"The second change in situation was that the Blue camp obviously no
longer wanted to play the role of a firewall in the triangular
relationship among Taipei, Washington and Beijing. Unlike what
happened in 2004, leadership elites in the Blue camp, starting from
Ma Ying-jeou, did not criticize the Green camp for its moves pushing
for the UN referendum; instead, they followed suit and announced
that they will launch a referendum on rejoining the UN. To avoid
pressure from Washington, Ma Ying-jeou even plans not to go to the
United States! ...
"Such new changes have put Washington and Beijing in a dilemma.
Washington's predicament is that none of its powerful moves, be it
an elaboration on its position, postponement in the arms deals, or
even lowering its treatment for [Taiwan] leaders transiting the
U.S., seems to be able to punish Chen Shui-bian, but it may very
likely directly impact the campaigning of Hsieh. This is a result
that Washington will not be happy to see. ..."
E) "Better Dialogue in the Triumvirate"
Nat Bellocchi, former chairman of AIT and now a special adviser to
the Liberty Times Group, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (8/6):
"... There are numerous reasons why constrictive dialogue between
Taipei and Washington has suffered in recent years. The US has made
commitments to both Taiwan and China. Changing those commitments
would be difficult. For one thing, Beijing has refused to accept
any real dialogue with Taiwan unless the latter surrenders. And
Taiwan especially since it became a democracy - seeks high-level,
open dialogue so that it can fully represent its people. ... The US
must find the political will to become more involved and should try
to find ways by which it can more efficiently discuss developments
in the Strait with its Taiwanese counterparts.
"Taipei and Washington must hold frequent bilateral talks -- not
through single envoys or from time to time, but rather on a regular
basis. Both should bolster their representative offices to provide
policymakers back home better information upon which to develop
their policies. The present system of US-Taiwan relations began
some 27 years ago. Back then, the two enjoyed close relations.
When, years later, Taiwan turned into a democracy, the expectations
were that the relationship would only become even closer. A quick
glance at TV and newspapers in Taiwan suffices to demonstrate how
things have changed. ...
"At the same time, US interests have changed, as it faces a
different set of problems. Despite its preference for a peaceful
resolution in the cross-strait conflict, the truth of the matter is
that relations between Taipei and Beijing have deteriorated. Given
this reality and without a change in policy, the US could soon be
seen to be complicit in Beijing's suppression of Taiwanese
democracy. ... It took the missile crisis of 1996 to prompt change
in the military relationship. Military-to-military communication
between Taiwan and the US has continued to grow, but for political
reasons the quality of diplomatic channels has deteriorated.
"In all, from now until 2009 and given everything that will happen
in between, we can expect the US-Taiwan relationship to be a highly
complex one. As such, failure by these two countries to establish
constructive dialogue mechanisms could give rise to serious
problems. Before crisis hits, routine meetings at the governmental
level -- or, if needed, between officials who have taken temporary
leave of their official positions in office -- should be held so
that concerns and opportunities can be thoroughly discussed. Doing
so is in the US' interest, Taiwan's interest - and even in China's
interest. What is not in the US's interest is to continue to allow
Beijing to determine the nature of the US-Taiwan relationship."