Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #1945/01 2360907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240907Z AUG 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6524
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7162
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8417
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001945
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 24 on the investigation into the explosion of a
China Airlines passenger jet in Okinawa Monday; on President Chen
Shui-bian's trip to Central America; and on Taiwan's general
economic situation. In addition, two Chinese-language dailies and
three English-language dailies all carried an op-ed by AIT Director
Stephen Young clarifying the United States' position on the use of
ractopamine in pork and urging the Taiwan government to establish a
standard for the use of this substance.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" lashed out at President Chen,
saying he was merely trying to use the 'bogus Taiwan independence'
and 'bogus anti-U.S.' elements in the UN referendum issue to
establish his position as a standard-bearer in the Green camp so as
to control and manipulate next year's presidential poll and the
political situation afterwards. An op-ed in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times," on the other hand, discussed DPP
presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's visit to the United States in
July. The articles said Hsieh's Washington visit can be deemed a
success, as he "certainly enhanced mutual understanding between
Washington and Taipei." End summary.
A) "Genuine Opposition to the United States Is Phony Taiwan
The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
"[Activists fighting for] Taiwan independence always strive to vie
for support from the United States, so Taiwan independence
[activists] cannot possibly be anti-U.S. If someone calls for
Taiwan independence verbally but boasts of himself as anti-U.S. and
never hesitates to split with the United States, he must be a phony
Taiwan independence [activist]. For Chen Shui-bian, he manipulated
the 'UN referendum' into an 'anti-U.S.' [move], but both his [calls
for] 'Taiwan independence' and 'anti-U.S.' were bogus. Chen merely
wants to use the 'bogus Taiwan independence' and 'bogus anti-U.S.'
[elements] in the 'UN referendum' issue to establish his position as
the standard-bearer in the Green camp so as to control and
manipulate [next year's] presidential poll and the political
"Chen's 'anti-U.S.' [stance] is phony. For example, he appeared to
confront the United States sharply when swindling over the 'UN
referendum' on the one hand. But on other hand, he was showing
goodwill to the United States when it comes to [the policy
concerning] the use of beta agonists [in pork], a matter that
involves actual trade and economic interests. It is crystal clear
that Chen is outwardly fierce but inwardly faint-hearted. In his
eyes, the United States could easily do Taiwan a favor without
costing it anything by [supporting] the 'UN referendum,' while
Taiwan can repay [the United States] with substantive trade and
economic interests [generated by importing U.S.] pork containing
beta agonists, [U.S.] beef with the mad-cow disease, and the arms
deals. But Chen's scenario fell short because the United States
refused to trade. ...
"Judging by the international situation, the United States'
influence on Taiwan's survival is, to a certain extent, even greater
than the factors concerning the island itself. As a result, Taiwan
has never been anti-U.S., and it is least possible for the Taiwan
independence [activists] to be anti-U.S. But the United States did
not, and will possibly not give Taiwan a political blank check.
Taiwan must act in concert with the United States' cross-Strait
policy; so do Taiwan independence [activists]. Washington's
current policy is to 'oppose any change in the status quo,' so it
regards the 'UN referendum' as a move 'in attempt to alter the
status quo.' Thus, it became out of focus when Chen's 'UN
referendum' turned out to be an 'anti-U.S.' movement. ...
"Since 2000, the United States has gradually formulated the doctrine
of 'opposing change in the status quo,' marking a new milestone for
the cross-Strait situation. Beijing's 'Anti-Secession Law,' which
drew a red line on 'de jure independence,' can also be viewed as a
move akin to tacitly recognizing that the 'Republic of China' is an
acceptable part of the 'status quo.' In addition, Chen's 'Four Nos
and One Without' was also a pledge that endorsed the doctrine of
'not changing the status quo.' In reality, 'no change in the status
quo' is a newborn development following decades of mediations and
agitations among Washington, Beijing and Taipei, and can thus be
viewed as a new principle prevailing the 'one act [i.e. the Taiwan
Relations Act] and three [U.S.-China] communiques.' ...
"Chen is a phony Taiwan independent [activist], and all he wants is
to incite and make advantage of the Taiwan independence sentiments.
Chen is also a phony anti-U.S. [person], and all he did was to use
the anti-U.S. sentiments to stir up and ignite the emotions for
Taiwan independence. Chen's objective is to turn next year's
presidential election into a political edict to 'endorse Taiwan
independence,' an attempt to ensure that he can still control the
situation after he steps down. ..."
B) "Hsieh in Washington - an Appraisal"
Li Thian-hok, a freelance commentator based in Pennsylvania, opined
in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (8/24):
"... Despite the ambiguities and imperfections, Hsieh's Washington
visit can be deemed a success. He certainly enhanced mutual
understanding between Washington and Taipei. Overall, he gave the US
policy elite a favorable impression as a pragmatic politician who
may ease tensions with China and the US. However, caution is in
order. The US policy establishment is split on the ultimate status
of Taiwan. Some want peaceful unification of Taiwan with China.
Others want to preserve Taiwan's freedom until China's future
direction becomes clearer, e.g., until the US feels confident that
the modernization of the People's Liberation Army is not designed to
expel US military forces from East Asia.
"Gaining applause from the pro-China wing as a moderate may only
mean that the panda huggers perceive that Hsieh will cooperate with
any joint US-China effort to bring about a peaceful annexation of
Taiwan by China. Hsieh would be well-advised to renounce Chen's
'four noes' pledge on the grounds that no one, not even the
president of Taiwan, has the right to unilaterally abrogate the
people's basic right to determine their own future.
A democratic Taiwan cannot long endure without evolving into a
normal country by changing the national title and adopting a new
constitution. The 'four noes' make it impossible for Taiwan to move
towards the status of a normal nation without endangering US support
for Taiwan's survival.
"Once it is made clear that Taiwan will never compromise on its
sovereignty and democracy, those US officials and academics who
value democracy and who appreciate the strategic importance of
Taiwan as an indispensable link in the security of Japan as well as
the US will be encouraged to resist Beijing's pressure to undermine
Taiwan's existence as a free and democratic state. An unequivocal
commitment to defend Taiwan's sovereignty and democracy is required
if Hsieh wants thousands of Taiwanese-Americans to return home to
vote for him next March. Only such commitment will enable Hsieh to
fire up his pan green base and persuade light blue voters that only
a free and independent Taiwan can ensure their life, liberty and
prosperity. To secure his victory, to preserve Taiwan's freedom and
stability in East Asia and ultimately to deter a conflict between
the US and China, Hsieh has no choice but to stand firm on the right
side of history."