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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan and Bush-Hu Meeting


DE RUEHIN #2067/01 2502342
R 072342Z SEP 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies gave extensive
coverage September 7 to the meeting between U.S. President George W.
Bush and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao at APEC Thursday, and to
President Chen Shui-bian's videoconference with the American
Enterprise Institute Thursday on Taiwan's UN referendum. Coverage
also focused on the death of legendary opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti
Thursday; on a strong earthquake that rocked the island early Friday
morning; and on the controversial Olympic torch relay route. The
pro-independence "Liberty Times" front-paged a banner headline that
read "UN Referendum Is Not Mentioned in the Bush-Hu Press
Conference." The pro-unification "United Daily News," however,
front-paged a news story with the headline "Bush-Hu Meeting Opposes
the UN Referendum." The same paper also ran a banner headline on
page two that said "Bian: Taiwan Will Join the UN as a New Member."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
analysis said the fact that Bush did not further criticize Taiwan
during his meeting with Hu Jintao showed that Washington does not
want to create another predicament for itself or put itself in a
dilemma. An editorial in the pro-independence, English-language
"Taiwan News" chimed in by calling Washington's attention to the
results of a new opinion survey by Taiwan Thinktanks, which showed
that the majority of Taiwan people remained resolved to support
Taiwan's UN bid regardless of the U.S. opposition. A news analysis
in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times," however, said the way
that Washington and Beijing handled Taiwan's UN referendum reflected
that Taiwan is being marginalized. A "United Daily News" analysis
said Washington has defined Taipei as a "provoker" in the
cross-Strait relations and has extended the battle line against
Taiwan's UN referendum to the UN Assembly ten days from now. End

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A) "Slowing down Its Speed on the Taiwan Matter, the United States
Avoids Creating a Predicament for Itself"

Deputy Editor-in-Chief Tsou Jiing-wen noted in an analysis in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000] (9/7):

"Following the impertinent remarks that U.S. deputy secretary of
state and senior director at the National Security Council made to
Taiwan, [U.S. President George W.] Bush did not choose to have
himself, obviously of a higher ranking, further criticize Taiwan
openly during his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Such a
development indicated that Washington does not want to create
another predicament for itself or put itself in a dilemma. ...
During the closed-door meeting, Bush told Hu in the face that he 'is
gravely concerned about' Taiwan's UN referendum. This remark can be
interpreted as a move to backpedal at an appropriate speed. ...
Ever since the two major political parties in Taiwan started
planning to hold a referendum in tandem with next year's
presidential election, the U.S. criticism against Taiwan has been
overwhelming, with numerous unpleasant remarks made to the leaders
of both the Blue and Green camps, but the result Washington has been
hoping to achieve was nearly zero. The problem lies in the fact
that the United States only imposed pressure on the political elites
but failed to lobby or communicate with the Taiwan people.
Washington overlooked the nature of democracy, thus its efforts were
used in a wrong direction. This is why in the wake of the United
States' roar, a high percentage of public opinion remained unafraid
and urged [the government] to continue pushing for the UN

"The public opinion in Taiwan, slowly but surely, no longer takes
unreasonable U.S. requests as granted. In addition to the
constantly evolving political environment in Taiwan, the crux of
such elevated consciousness on the Taiwan's part of making one's own
decision lies in the United States' compromise and concession in
handling issues concerning totalitarian China over the past few
years. Washington might not be at its wit's end, but its
appeasement and laisser-faire approach have left a deep impression
on the Taiwan people, who are thus eager to pick its own path. ...

"Bush has stopped and is looking around for the time being; he may
be waiting for Taiwan's reaction, and he is also watching China's
next move. But under the big banner of opposition to any change in
the status quo, Taiwan is flying a peace flag -- there is no way
that Taiwan will allow the UN referendum to dance to the tune of
China; this is something that Washington will have to take very

B) "Hu, Bush Scare Turns into Fluff"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (9/7):

"... During a news conference after the conclusion of the
ninety-minute summit meeting in Sydney's Intercontinental last
night, Bush did not even mention Taiwan and Hu confined himself to

relating that 'President Bush also explicitly stated the U.S.
position consistent with a position of opposing any changes in the
status quo.' ... Clearly the two heads of state discussed the
situation in Taiwan at the initiative of the PRC President, but
obviously did not have a true meeting of minds on the subject,
despite the evident and openly manifested annoyance in Washington
with the refusal of democratic Taiwan to 'behave' and cease efforts
to enter the United Nations and conduct referendums on the subject,
sponsored separately by the governing DPP and the opposition

"In addition, Washington was apparently quite annoyed with moves
engaged by the PRC on the Taiwan issue, notably the statement,
evidently at Beijing's suggestion, by U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon in late March that 'Taiwan is part of the PRC' and a rumored
plan by the PRC to submit a U.N. General Assembly resolution that
would have specifically named Taiwan as part of the PRC. ... In any
case, the expected storm in Sydney over Taiwan's U.N. referendums
failed to congeal as the momentum of the APEC meeting to focus on
its own agenda has surfaced.

"Another important development took place in Taipei with the
announcement of the results of a new opinion poll that should be
considered by Washington closely as it points to the reason for the
resolve by President Chen and the DPP to press the question for
Taiwan's U.N. entry. The results of an opinion poll of 1,068 Taiwan
adults conducted from August 30 to September 2 and released
yesterday by Taiwan Thinktank indicates that while open opposition
from the U.S. together with the PRC has some impact, the majority of
Taiwan citizens remain resolved to support Taiwan's application to
join the U.N.. ... Moreover, almost the exact same proportion of 56
percent to 34 percent of Taiwan adults expressed support for
persisting in holding the DPP's U.N. referendum even though the
United States has openly opposed the initiative. We hope Bush and
other officials in Washington and Beijing take note."

C) "Washington and Beijing Handle [Taiwan's UN Referendum] Coldly;
Taiwan Is Being Marginalized"

Journalist Chinag Hui-chen noted in an analysis in the centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (9/7):

"... The ambiance as a whole revealed by the few-minute press
conference following the meeting between U.S. President George W.
Bush and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao was the contrast between
a seemingly peaceful rising China and the United States, which is
trapped in the quagmire of North Korea and Iran. The rational and
mild attitude that Hu has tried deliberately to put on is exactly
the 'peaceful' fireworks China is trying to show to the
international community before the Olympic Game in 2008. At the
Bush-Hu meeting, the 'UN referendum,' a highly controversial issue
in Taiwan, has turned into China's internal affair. Bush gave Hu
promises that he will continue imposing pressure [on Taiwan], while
Hu, in return, has gained the international support before the
Olympic Game.

"The United States has been playing a double-handed strategy against
Taiwan. It started by having its national security system on the
table (i.e. National Security Council senior director for Asian
affairs Dennis Wilder) and the hearsay under the table (i.e. The
Nelson Report) make harsh remarks about him being ready to teach
Taiwan a lesson during the APEC meeting, in an attempt to suppress
the 'UN referendum.' But on the APEC stage, Bush let Hu step
forward to talk about the Taiwan issue instead. The 'UN
referendum,' with which Taiwan expects to break the international
barriers has nothing left but the only value for the Green camp to
boost its campaigning. ... Have Beijing and Washington made
concession to Taiwan? Has Taiwan's pushing the envelope succeeded
in helping it move a step forward? In the wake of the 'Bush-Hu
meeting,' Taiwan's crisis has not been resolved, but perhaps its
anxiety has grown heavier."

D) "Taiwan Has Become a Provoker; Battle Will Extend to the UN

Washington correspondent Vincent Chang noted in an analysis in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (9/7):

"... One might have misevaluated the situation if he took the
low-profile manner of both Bush and Hu as a concession to Taiwan's
push for the UN referendum, or even, as a major victory for Taiwan's
public opinion. This is because the United States has just extended
the battle line of its fight against the UN referendum to the 'real'
UN Assembly ten days from now. The White House has made it very
clear that it will continue monitoring the development of Taiwan's
UN referendum; it even said it 'does not want to see anyone being
provoked by Taiwan's activities.' Such remarks were akin to
defining Taiwan's position, in terms of its push for the UN
referendum, as a 'provoker' in the cross-Strait relations. ...

"The U.S. government's remarks are clear enough, but politicians of
both the DPP and the KMT, who are eager to push for the UN
referendum, seemed to have never thought of any 'exit mechanism' for
the referendum under the big framework of U.S.-Taiwan relations and
regional security. Perhaps each side is waiting to jeer at the
other for being a chicken that jumps out of the car first. But it
has never occurred to them whether they will bring the car of Taiwan
down the cliff."


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