Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan, U.S.-China Relations
DE RUEHIN #1830/01 2250902
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130902Z AUG 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6353
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7122
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8367
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001830
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, U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
news coverage August 11-13 on the arrangement for President Chen
Shui-bian to stop over Anchorage, Alaska, when he visits Central
America August 20; DPP Presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's
announcement that he will ask former Premier Su Tseng-chang to be
his running mate; pig farmers' protest against an alleged government
move to lift the ban on ractopamine; and the global market turmoil
caused by U.S. sub-prime mortgage market woes.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" said in an editorial that the transit
arrangements for President Chen Shui-bian's Central America visit
next week are a barometer for U.S.-Taiwan relations. The
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" emphasized the
referendum right of the Taiwan people in its editorial. An
editorial of the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
urged the United States to be more alert about China's threat to
U.S. national security. Another editorial in the "Taipei Times"
said the United States ought to deport the white-collar crime
suspect Wang You-theng back to Taiwan. Meanwhile, "China Times"
noted in an editorial that Taiwan authorities may lift a ban on
ractopamine because of U.S. pressure. End summary
A) "Seven Years of Foreign Relations Manipulations Concluded Only by
Saying [He Would]'Endure Humiliations for the Nation'?"
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
"... In total, there will be 10 foreign visits by President Chen
Shui-bian during his presidency, including the upcoming one. ...
Despite of the attractive titles assigned to these visits, the
destinations have never been the main purpose. Instead, which
cities he can stop over in for transit on the way to and from the
destinations is the main focus. After many incidents, Washington
has begun to take the matter seriously and play along accordingly,
making the issue a barometer for U.S.-Taiwan relations. It has even
become a concrete indication of how much weight Chen Shui-bian
carries in Washington.
"... This year the maneuvering of a proposed 'referendum on the bid
to enter the United Nations under the name of Taiwan' has divided
the mind-sets of Washington and Taipei even further. The transit
treatment of [Chen] this time is one indicator.
"... Moreover, in recent years international opinion has focused
more on whether Taiwan is a 'troublemaker' than on showing support
and sympathy for Taiwan's isolated international position. Is it
fair to get such an outcome for so many years of diplomatic effort?
B) "Bush, Hu to Curb Taiwan Democracy"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] said in an editorial (8/13):
"In light of the continued support by Taiwan President Chen
Shui-bian for the 'bottom-up' initiative by the Democratic
Progressive Party for a national referendum on whether to join the
United Nations under the name of 'Taiwan,' the United States
government of rightist Republican President George W. Bush has
launched a series of pressure moves ostensibly aimed at blocking the
Taiwan government from crossing a so-called 'red line' drawn by
"Ironically, Washington has refrained from making any open criticism
of the opposition Kuomintang, which is promoting a referendum which
would precisely advocate 'returning' to the U.N. using the 'R.O.C'
"Most importantly, there is an essential difference between opinion
polls and national citizen referendums. Opinion surveys involve only
a handful of citizens, are made for policy reference and have no
legal standing; citizen referendums, just as elections, permit all
citizens to vote to express their opinion in a collective and
legally binding expression of the will of the people. ...
"There is evidently a huge amount of misunderstanding between Taipei
and Washington, which highlights the need for both sides to engage
in constructive dialogue to strike a balance and the need for people
in Washington to do some basic homework on direct democratic theory
and Taiwan law. ...
"Given Beijing's apparently rising influence in Washington
decision-making processes, we can expect PRC State Chairman and
ruling Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao to push
Bush to take other action besides downgrading President Chen's
transit treatment. ...
"What is most important is for President Chen, the DPP leadership
and DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh to stand firm together in
emphasizing the significance of the right to referendum as an
integral part of Taiwan's democratic progress and the need for the
world democratic community to honor its own principles of human
rights, self-determination of peoples and universality enshrined in
the U.N. Charter. ..."
C) "China and the 'Nuclear Option'"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (8/11):
"... For all the U.S. government has said and done about reinforcing
the security of the homeland against the terrorist threat, and for
all of the hand-wringing that has accompanied illegal immigration
and building fences on a desert border, the grim reality is that
Americans are under increasing -- and increasingly acknowledged --
threat from a China that can say 'go to hell.'
"It is this threat, not the generally limited impact of terror
cells, that has the potential to hit every American where it hurts
the most. The frightening thing is that China appears to revel in a
situation in which it is portrayed as powerful enough to hurt people
on whom it relies for growth and accumulating wealth.
"No matter how much reform it may undertake, the Chinese government
is proving itself incapable of shaking historical grudges -- and
more than capable of repositioning those grudges from the enemies of
the past to enemies of the future.
"So the question must be asked: How many warnings on Chinese
aggression must the U.S. government receive before it talks and acts
like it is dealing with a hostile power?"
D) "Wang You-theng: Face the Music"
In an editorial the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" [circulation: 30,000] said (8/12):
"... The United States is under no obligation to deport Wang
[You-theng] to Taiwan if he is found not to have a case to answer.
"But, one way or another, he ought to be.
"Taiwan has been helpful when it comes to extraditing suspected
criminals to the U.S. authorities -- and this has been in the
absence of a formal extradition deal.
"If Wang is not tried for his alleged crimes in the place where he
stands accused, then the country that allows him to avoid
accountability will be party to a gross miscarriage of justice for
the thousands of people who have lost their investments.
"The last thing the United States would want to do is inherit
China's title as a safe haven for suspected embezzlers who can buy
their way to freedom."
E) "Surrounded by Heavy Pressure?"
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
"It is said that there are as many as a thousand tons of U.S. pork
stored in [Taiwan] customs. The reason for postponing their customs
clearance is to wait for Taiwan to lift its ban on ractopamine. Can
the Taiwan government sustain such heavy pressure from the United
"In fact, there are clear signs that Taiwan government's policy is
recently being 'negotiated' toward the direction of a limited
removal of the ban under pressure from both the U.S. government and
Congress. The Council of Agriculture and the Department of Health
have held so many meetings. If the meetings were not meant for
lifting the ban, then why waste the mouth water and the tea water?"
...[Ed. Note: "wasting mouth water" is an idiom equivalent in
English to "wasting one's breath."]