Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #2030/01 2482354
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 052354Z SEP 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6657
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7210
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8464
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002030
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 September 5 on Taiwan's UN referendum; on the aftermath of
President Chen Shui-bian's comment last week on the political bias
of Taiwan's judiciary; on the upcoming APEC summit; and on a Taiwan
business tycoon who donated NT15 billion [US$454 million] to
National Taiwan University for cancer research and treatment. The
pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a banner headline on page four
that said "For the First Time, Hsieh [Says]: [I] Want to Run for the
Presidency of the Nation of Taiwan." The centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times," in the meantime, also ran an exclusive banner
headline on page four that read "The United States Does Not Accept
That Taiwan Is Part of the PRC."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial called for efforts to manifest Taiwan and turn it into an
independent sovereign state recognized by the international
community. A separate "Liberty Times" op-ed warned that the recent
remarks by high-ranking U.S. officials may turn the anti-U.S.
sentiment in Taiwan into full-blown anti-Americanism. A "China
Times" analysis, on the other hand, said the strongly-worded
statements by the United States have not only hurt the Taiwan
people's feelings but have done a favor both for President Chen and
the Green camp. An op-ed in the pro-unification "United Daily News"
said the Americans and the Taiwan independence forces have willingly
colluded with each other for a long time, and that neither should
complain about the other now. End summary.
A) "Manifest [the Fact That] Taiwan Is an Independent Sovereign
State Recognized by the International Community"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
"U.S. White House National Security Council senior director for
Asian affairs Dennis Wilder said recently: 'Taiwan or the Republic
of China is not at this point a state in the international
community,' and 'the Republic of China is an issue undecided, and it
has been left undecided for many, many years." A State Department
official said the above-mentioned remarks do not represent any
change in U.S. government policy, nor did the White House intend to
send any message regarding a change in its policy. ... But even
though the ROC has perished in the international community, its
system remains haunting Taiwan, disabling the island from becoming a
normal country. ... In other words, one can say that the crux of
Taiwan's diplomatic predicament lies in the fact that it still fails
to get rid of the ROC thoroughly, which has in fact been eliminated
in the international community. ...
"Having understood this, we don't need to be disheartened by the
remarks that 'Taiwan or the Republic of China is not at this point a
state in the international community,' because, based on such a
policy discourse of the United States, the ROC is a past tense that
no longer exists, while Taiwan is walking toward future
possibilities. Taiwan, which has its own people, territory,
government and sovereignty, is thus a complete nation with all the
inner requirements intact. Taiwan, which holds elections regularly,
has its own military, judicial and tax systems and budget, is thus a
country that functions effectively. We can therefore say with full
confidence that, compared with many of the 192 UN member nations,
Taiwan is in possession of better qualifications to be regarded as a
"The subject lying ahead of us now is how to manifest Taiwan, which
has every element of being an independent sovereign state, and make
it into an independent sovereign state recognized by the
international community. ... For now, the first priority is to get
rid of the ghost of the ROC via name change and the writing of a new
constitution. In the meantime, we can enter the UN majestically
using the rectified name ... and become a member nation of various
"It is indeed difficult to seek other countries' recognition before
Taiwan becomes a normal country. But Wilder's remarks made us see
more clearly: Using the name ROC cannot help Taiwan become a normal
country. On the contrary, it is viable, and we will surely be able
to achieve our goal by having Taiwan, which has all the elements of
a nation, to walk from its current state of independent sovereignty
to a country recognized by the international community. From now
on, anyone who does not want to be annexed by China without any
reason and who values democracy and freedom must work together to
safeguard Taiwan, which already has independent sovereignty."
B) "From Anti-U.S. Sentiments to Anti-Americanism"
Luo Chih-cheng, associate professor of political science at Soochow
University and secretary-general of the Taiwan Society, opined in
the pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000] (9/5):
"... Washington standing together with China to counter Taiwan's
efforts toward diplomatic breakthroughs will only deepen the Taiwan
people's loathing and mistrust of Washington. Some opinion surveys
done in Taiwan have already revealed such a signal. The Taiwan
people's favorable feelings toward the United States are gradually
declining, and in particular anti-U.S. sentiment is brewing.
[Deputy Secretary of State] John Negroponte emphasized in his
interview that the United States is Taiwan's best friend. But we
must point out that Washington has often overlooked the fact that
for a long time, Taiwan has been the United States' most reliable
friend. The United States has blindly taken Taiwan's support for
and coordination with it for granted but ignored Taiwan's assertions
and appeals. Washington's opposition to Taiwan's UN referendum has
reflected such an arrogant attitude.
"The biggest blind spot in the United States' Taiwan policy lies in
its lack of knowledge of how to deal with Taiwan's democracy and the
Taiwan people. Washington subjectively believes that it can change
Taiwan's policy direction as long as it imposes pressure on Taiwan
leaders. But this is a mistake Washington has constantly warned the
Beijing authorities not to make. When Washington criticized that
'the push for the UN referendum is wrong,' it is not blaming Chen
alone, but millions of Taiwan people who support the referendum.
The view regarding drawing a line between A-Bian and the Taiwan
people exactly showed the ignorance of the United States, the
so-called 'big country of democracy.'
"The U.S. government's ignorance and arrogance described above will
only result in more outrage and frustration toward the United States
on the Taiwan people's part. Once anti-U.S. sentiment in Taiwan
gradually grows into anti-Americanism, it will further affect
Taiwan's strategic options, which will perhaps become the key to a
structural change in Taiwan-U.S. relationship."
C) "Bian Playing the Campaigning Card Abroad, and It Works?"
Journalist Chiang Hui-chen noted in an analysis in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (9/1):
"... In terms of the already tense triangular relationship among
Washington, Beijing and Taipei, the rights that Taiwan, as a
democratic country, is entitled to, and the room it should enjoy
have long since been 'an inconvenient truth' for Washington. But
the heavy blow that Washington dealt to Taiwan [i.e. Wilder's
remarks] has not only stepped on the 'red line' of the Taiwan
people's feelings, but also imperceptibly helped Bian resolve his
problem and all the more, done a favor for the Green camp.
"It will not be surprising at all if, during the APEC meeting slated
for September in Sydney, Australia, [U.S. President George W.] Bush
seizes the chance of his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao to
criticize Bian - a move that is consistent with Washington's
position regarding Taiwan's UN referendum. But the fact that
Washington has upgraded its level [of officials] to impose pressure
on Taiwan, and that it has hit exactly upon the most humble and
fragile part of the Taiwan people - their 'imagination of a nation'
- indicates that the United States indeed has no knowledge of the
DPP at all, nor does it understand Taiwan well enough. ...
"In terms of the campaigning in Taiwan, Bian's UN referendum has
successfully dragged both the United States and China into the game.
In order to maintain its own interests and to yield to China's
pressure, Washington has more than once taken the initiative of
jumping into the 'offshore battlefield of campaigning' tailor-made
by Bian. But will Washington's strongly-worded statements really
force A-Bian to back down? Or they will only help to reinforce the
inner consensus in the DPP? The answers to these questions are
"The most important bull's eye of Bian's UN referendum, without a
doubt, is not UN Resolution No. 2758 but next year's presidential
election; likewise, the most intense battlefield is not in New York,
but in Taipei. ... As a result, immediately after U.S. National
Security Council senior director Dennis Wilder made the
strongly-worded remarks, the Blue camp appeared to be deeply
worried, while the Presidential Office and the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs remained silent. Bian's initial strategy has obviously
achieved the results he desired."
D) "Americans and Taiwan Independence [Activists] Both Put Aside All
Considerations of Face; Neither Should Complain about the Other!"
Kao Hsiung-po, a Taipei-based strategic commentator, opined in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" (9/1):
"... For many years, the Taiwan independence force and the United
States have been willingly taken advantage of each other; they
worked together to restrain the process of modernization on mainland
China on the one hand, and to usurp power in Taiwan for political
and economic gains on the other. This is a combination of interests
in nature, so neither side should complain about the other.
Washington has criticized Bian for everything, but in reality it is
asking for humiliation itself. Given its powerful national
strength, how would the United States be toyed with by Taiwan's
pro-independence authorities if it did not harbor evil intentions
and willingly collude with the Taiwan independence force?
"Getting to the bottom of this, [one would find that] the reason
that the Taiwan independence forces are able to develop in Taiwan is
exactly because the United States only cares about its own interests
and disregards justice and morality. ... What the United States was
aiming at was nothing but to destroy the KMT, which is
anti-communist but not anti-China, and to have the anti-China Taiwan
independence force to lead Taiwan, in an attempt to restrain
mainland China. An inner defect of such an attempt of the United
States is that once China's strength grows to a certain extent, the
United States' support for Taiwan independence will instead become
its burden. ..."