Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #2034/01 2490948
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060948Z SEP 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6664
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7216
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8470
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002034
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 continued to
focus news coverage September 6 on the UN referendum; on the meeting
between U.S. President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu
Jintao today; and on the 2008 presidential poll. The
pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a banner headline on page four
that read "Notifying the UN in a Letter, the United States [Says It]
Does Not Accept [the View That] Taiwan Is Part of China."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a commentary in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" called the UN referendum a
"profitable deal" for President Chen Shui-bian, as it costs him
nothing and he is guaranteed to win it. A separate "Apple Daily"
op-ed, however, provides a different perspective for Chen's push for
the UN referendum. The article said Chen is ready to run the risk
of splitting with Washington and pushing for Taiwan independence
because he foresees that he will play an overlord position to
manipulate and mediate between Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang after
he steps down. An op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language
"Taipei Times," however, said "Taipei has run out of patience with
the creative ambiguity of the past, and it demands that the US
respect the will of the Taiwanese." End summary.
A) "Taiwan's Gambling Money"
Columnist Antonio Chiang noted in his column in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 530,000] (9/6):
"... For A-Bian alone, the UN referendum is a guaranteed profitable
deal which costs him nothing and which he will never lose; having
dragged the KMT into the game means that he has achieved half of the
result he desires. The Americans' initial reactions made Chen half
joyful and half worried, but to his surprise, the Americans
announced that neither the Republic of China nor Taiwan is a state.
Such a statement made the DPP overjoyed at their unexpected good
fortune -- the national name 'ROC' that the DPP has tried but failed
to get rid of for years can finally be tossed away effortlessly.
Many DPP members thus greatly admire A-Bian's wisdom.
"Unfortunately, even though the UN referendum is nothing but a
campaign strategy, it has a very powerful external effect. It may
be a successful approach in terms of campaign strategies, but the
external consequences that it projects will surely do damage to
Taiwan's long-term interests. The first [consequence] is that
Taiwan has annoyed [U.S. President George W.] Bush, and as a result,
U.S. arms procurements and assistance [to Taiwan] in terms of [its
bid to join] international organizations have been suspended. For
Bush, A-Bian no longer enjoys any credibility, and Washington and
Beijing will draw a clearer red line for Taiwan. Taiwan's national
status and elbow room in the international community will be further
squeezed, while cooperation between Washington and Beijing will be
"Beijing saw that the KMT has failed to counterbalance the DPP; that
the Americans can hardly manage A-Bian; that A-Bian can use the
referendum to replace the high threshold for constitutional
amendments; and that the Taiwan issue is on the verge of getting out
of control. With the Chinese Communist Party's 17th National
Congress looming, Taiwan's referendum has posed a major challenge to
Hu Jintao's prestige, and Hu will certainly have to deal with it.
B) "Behind the Scenes - Bian Single-Handedly Challenges Two
Hegemonies: the United States and China"
Shih Chih-yu, professor of political science at National Sun Yat-sen
University and National Taiwan University, opined in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 530,000] (9/6):
"One of the major reasons for Chen Shui-bian to be ready to run the
risk of breaking with the United States and promoting Taiwan
independence is that Frank Hsieh has finally accepted [Chen's
proposal of] pairing up with Su Tseng-chang to run for the
presidency. Chen is happy about it not because he trusts that Su
will protect him after he steps down in the future, but because Su
has actual solid strength and will never fight alone like Annette
Lu. As a result, [Chen knows that] his position as a mediator
between [the two of them] will be increasingly important. ...
"The only factor that can now obstruct Chen from continuing to enjoy
his wealth and power after he steps down will be the KMT. Should
the DPP lose the [presidential] election, Chen will likely face all
kinds of struggles, which will surely be poles apart from the
overlord position he dreams of so that he can continue manipulate
Hsieh and Su. This explains why Chen wants to challenge Washington
and Beijing constantly; as long as he succeeds in defeating the KMT,
he will be able to rest completely with his mind at ease."
C) "Why US Criticism Was Unavoidable"
Professor Chen Hurng-yu of Tamkang University opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
"What did Wilder mean? The Taiwan that the TRA promises to help
protect is a Taiwan under ROC rule. The party the US wants to have
dealings wiQ is the government of the ROC, not a 'Taiwan'
government. From the point of view of US law, 'Taiwan' is another
term for 'ROC,' and these two are one and the same. Since the US
does not recognize Taiwan as a country, and also calls the existence
of the ROC into question, then what is the legal nature of the
identity the US wants to have dealings with?
"In the past, US officials could hide behind creative ambiguity. But
now the situation in Taiwan has changed. There is a bigger push for
independence and national sovereignty and a desire to have the
respect of the international community. Taipei has run out of
patience with the creative ambiguity of the past, and it demands the
US respect the will of the Taiwanese. Unfortunately, faced with
this new situation US officials still react within the old
framework, a framework that nobody in Taiwan can identify with. The
current situation was therefore unavoidable."