Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #2082/01 2530929
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100929Z SEP 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6738
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7237
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8494
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002082
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: As Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies September
8-10 continued to report on Taiwan's UN referendum and the APEC
annual meeting in Sydney, Australia, coverage also focused on the
cross-Strait negotiations over the Olympics torch relay route, and
on Taiwan film director Ang Lee's winning his second Venice Film
Festival Golden Lion for best picture for his film, "Lust, Caution."
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a banner headline on page
four September 10 that said "You [Shyi-kun]: Other Countries Have No
Right to Obstruct Taiwan's Nation Building [Efforts].
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial said the recent statements by U.S. officials on Taiwan's
UN referendum reminded Taiwan that it needs to work harder to push
and turn Taiwan into a normal country. A separate "Liberty Times"
op-ed said Taiwan's UN referendum has sent a clear signal from the
23 million Taiwan people to the United States. An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" said Bush's timely
reminder of the value of Taiwan democracy at the APEC meeting "can
pave the way for better dialogue on key issues concerning
U.S.-Taiwan ties." An op-ed in the pro-unification "United Daily
News," however, said the current situation indicated that Washington
and Beijing have started to "jointly manage" the Taiwan issue. End
A) "Revelations of APEC Annual Meetings to Democratic Taiwan"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
"... Judged from the United States' perspective, President George W.
Bush's open and positive attitude toward Taiwan at the APEC annual
meeting was certainly appropriate and reasonable. The island's UN
referendum is the free expression of the Taiwan people's collective
will, and it is a concrete realization and announcement of democracy
and human rights. The United States' attempt to define the
referendum as tantamount to Taiwan independence, citing the reason
that it will 'alter the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,' was
obviously a misinterpretation on its part and a violation of the
basic principles of democracy and freedom. ...
"The disagreement between Taiwan and the United States over the UN
referendum this time has enlightened our country in many ways. This
matter, which is still under development, has indicated several
facts: The Communist regime tramples on the freedom and human
rights of the Chinese people, and surely it will not allow the Green
and the Blue political parties in Taiwan to push for referenda.
Also, since U.S. National Security Council senior director Dennis
Wilder has declared that neither Taiwan nor the Republic of China is
a normal country, we have to work harder when it comes to building
our nation into a normal country. As for President Bush's attitude
at the APEC, it highlighted that a big democratic county at least
will not openly deviate from the principles of universal truth and
B) "Send a Clear Signal to the United States"
Cao Changqing, a China-born freelance journalist based in U.S,
opined in the pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
"The referendum on the island's UN bid under the name Taiwan is a
wise chess move made by President Chen and the DPP, and it has
achieved three significant results: First, the UN referendum has
forced a U.S. official to state that 'the Republic of China is not a
country,' a move that is akin to nailing the KMT's lie that the ROC
is still recognized by the world, and an open announcement to the
international community the death of the ROC. ...
"Second, the referendum has forced the pro-China secretary-general
of the UN to state that 'Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of
China' when he rejected Taiwan's application for the UN membership.
This statement has led the United States to send a formal letter to
the UN, clearly rejecting the UN secretary-general's view. Such a
move indicated that the U.S. position is that 'Taiwan is not part of
the PRC.' ...
"Third, since the ROC is not a country, and Taiwan is not a part of
the PRC, the future of Taiwan can only be determined by the Taiwan
people themselves. The statements by the U.S. officials were
tantamount to providing a logical foundation and condition for the
Taiwan people's efforts in pursuit of 'name change, writing of a new
constitution, and a normal country.' Former AIT Chairperson Therese
Shaheen said during a speech in California in July that the Taiwan
people should clearly articulate what they are pursuing and that
they must not send out 'ambiguous messages,' so that the United
States can better understand Taiwan's future direction. As a
democratic country, the United States will not ignore other
countries' wish 'to cry out loud for freedom.' The 'referendum on
the island's UN bid under the name Taiwan' is exactly a clear signal
from the 23 million Taiwan people to 'cry out loud for freedom.'
C) "Bush Recalls Value of Democracy"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (9/10):
"... Washington has worried about 'misperceptions' and
'miscalculations' across the Taiwan Strait as any serious attempt to
realize a 'unilateral change' of the current status of the Taiwan
Strait has the potential to endanger U.S. interests in the region
and even drag U.S. soldiers into a 'hot' conflict. ... However, the
way in which the Bush administration has dealt with these perceived
or actual attempts, as manifested in recent statements by high
ranking U.S. officials, has been controversial. ... When added to
the 'uncomfortable, inconvenient and undignified' transit conditions
given to President Chen on his way to and back from Central America
last month, such statements created a 'misperception' in Taiwan that
Washington had virtually become a mouthpiece for Beijing.
"Moreover, the Bush administration's strategy to separate President
Chen from the general Taiwan citizenry by criticizing him for 'lack
of leadership' has neglected the fact that, at least on the question
of the U.N., Chen's position is supported by the overwhelming
majority of the Taiwan people. Hence, the 'Washington card' has not
seemed to work this time as President Chen, bolstered by clear
evidence of strong support in opinion polls, is determined to push
forward the referendum for participating the U.N. together with the
March 22 presidential election. ... The fact of overwhelming and
bipartisan support for Taiwan's entry into the U.N. is the most
'inconvenient truth' that Washington decision-makers must take into
"Hence, it was quite a relief to see that Bush declined to dance to
Beijing's scripted rhythm and instead only restated his own existing
position about Taiwan and recited Washington's 'concerns' on the
referendum issue. ... Bush's remarks indicate that despite
differences over the question of Taiwan's push to secure its proper
place in the community of nations as its status as a democratic and
developed nation merits, the relationship between the U.S. and
Taiwan remains that of friendship not enmity. ... Bush's statements
also stood as an important and timely correction of Washington's
excessive tilt toward authoritarian China while constantly putting
pressure on the Taiwan government for its perfectly justifiable
moves toward democratic consolidation. ...
"Bush's turnaround was decisive and fortunate as the image of
Washington and Beijing standing together to obstruct Taiwan's
democratic rights of self-determination would have intensified
rising anti-American sentiment and constitute a sad mockery on the
quality of U.S. global leadership and its commitment to democracy.
We believe Bush's timely reminder of the value of Taiwan democracy
can pave the way for better dialogue on key issues concerning
U.S.-Taiwan ties and urge President Chen and the DPP administration
to respond positively. We also urge Washington to follow up with
serious dialogue to help reduce misperceptions in the future and
also to display greater respect for the will and the wisdom of
Taiwan's democratic citizenry."
D) "Understanding the Bush-Hu Meeting? Stop Bluffing!"
Journalist Sun Yang-ming opined in the "United Notes" column in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (9/8):
"... In fact, a week prior to the meeting between U.S. President
George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao [at APEC], Washington
had decided that Bush would not make any open remarks on
Washington's Taiwan policy during the APEC leaders' meeting. But
the Bian administration has failed to obtain such a message, and the
simplest reason behind this was because the Americans have no more
interest in talking to the Bian administration. ...
"As a matter of fact, the Bush administration has set up a
four-person, cross-departmental task force to address the Taiwan
[referendum] matter. In order to be discreet, three of the four
task force members had met jointly with TECRO Chief Joseph Wu
earlier and expressed Washington's policy attitude on Chen
Shui-bian's UN referendum and his transits in the United States in
August, but unfortunately it was to no avail.
"The three [U.S.] officials' meeting with Wu was aimed at telling
Taipei the U.S. policy as comprehensively as possible, in the hope
that the Bian administration will no longer work through the
loopholes as it usually does. But the communication failed to reap
any desirable results, and the consequence was a mess. Washington's
feelings were thus understandable. Given such circumstances,
Washington had to turn to Beijing to negotiate and work out a way to
stabilize the cross-Strait situation. The current situation is that
even though Washington is reluctant to admit that it is 'managing'
the Taiwan issue jointly with Beijing, the truth is more or less
moving in this direction. When compared with the previous practice
whereas Beijing 'accused Taipei' last year and it was Washington
which 'ruled and implemented' [the decision], the situation now
appears to be less favorable for Taiwan. ..."