Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Un Referendum
DE RUEHIN #2163/01 2641015
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211015Z SEP 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6886
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7286
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8548
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002163
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: TAIWAN'S UN REFERENDUM
1. Summary: As Taiwan's UN bid remained in the spotlight of the
Taiwan media, news coverage on September 21 also focused on the
Olympic torch relay route issue, and on the legislative and
presidential elections next year. The pro-independence "Liberty
Times," citing the results of a recent opinion survey by ZOGBY
International of the U.S., ran a banner headline on page two that
said "If the [UN] Referendum Gets Passed, 70 Percent of the
Americans [Polled] Said They Will Support Taiwan's Membership in the
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, new TECRO Chairman Edgar
Lin said in an op-ed in the "Liberty Times" that given the
demonstration of the will of the Taiwan public in the recent
campaigns for Taiwan's UN bid, the United States must face up to the
need to systemize its channel of high-level dialogue with Taiwan.
An editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
also said this year's drive by Taiwan to push for its UN bid was
significant because it has successfully drawn the international
community's attention to Taiwan's cause. An editorial in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times," however, called on the public
to be realistic about Taiwan's UN bid. The article urged Taiwan to
build up its national strength and improve its relations with the
United States and China first before it starts to pursue its UN bid.
An editorial in the conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post," on the other hand, criticized the DPP's UN referendum
as another campaign gambit of the party. End summary.
A) "Taiwan Should Go over from Defensive to Offensive in Terms of
Its Foreign Relations"
TECRO (Headquarters) Chairman Edgar Lin opined in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000] (9/21):
"... As U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific
Affairs Thomas Christensen said, Taiwan and the United States are
strategic partners for the security and stability of East Asia, and
both are closely related and interdependent on each other. Also, he
said that nothing cannot be resolved as long as the two sides trust,
communicate with, and understand each other. As this is the case in
politics, it stands true also for foreign relations. But the
question is whether the United States has indeed treated Taiwan as a
closely related strategic partner? If yes, has it shown us a
certain degree of respect? Or has it simply regarded Taiwan as a
pawn that is expendable in the battles between powerful nations
vying for supremacy?
"Given my personal diplomatic experience, the harvest reaped from,
and impact on the international community caused by, the DPP's and
the KMT's campaigns for Taiwan to join or re-join the UN as well as
the big rally held on September 15 are the most important attack
that Taiwan has launched over the past five decades. It is worth
our celebration. ...
"... Given the demonstration of the will of the Taiwan public, the
United States must face squarely the matter of systemizing its
channel of high-level dialogue with Taiwan. To flatter Beijing in
the short term will only accelerate China's economic and military
rise, which will harm the United States in the end. Since Taiwan is
a closely related and interdependent strategic partner of the United
States, we can demand improvement in Taiwan-U.S. relations. The
movements calling for Taiwan to join or re-join the UN this time
have reflected that the Taiwan people can no longer accept the
current status of Taiwan-U.S. relations!"
B) "U.S. Drive Boosts Taiwan's Cause"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (9/21):
"... Despite the anticipated setback, this year's [UN] drive was
uniquely significant because, for the first time, President Chen
Shui-bian and the Democratic Progressive Party government issued an
application to join the United Nations directly as a new member
under the name of 'Taiwan.' This new effort has significantly
advanced this cause, in part by sparking greater attention to the
injustice of the exclusion of Taiwan from the world community and by
clarifying the issues at stake for both Taiwan and the world
concerning our absence from the U.N. ... Moreover, the threatening
rhetoric expended by Beijing and, sadly, other nations including the
United States denouncing the drive by the Taiwan people for their
just democratic rights reveals the world is failing to address this
problem justly. ...
"Another benefit from this year's U.N. and referendum campaign has
been the consolidation of a foreign policy that has greater
'relative autonomy' from the United States, which has long been seen
as Taiwan's "patron" in the world community. While the U.S. remains
Taiwan's most important substantive ally and guarantor of security,
the willingness of President Chen and the DPP government to uphold
their position on the U.N. issue has punctured widespread
impressions in global civil society that Taipei is a U.S. 'client'
and has arguably enhanced the credibility of Taiwan's democracy and
broadened support for 'democratic Taiwan' beyond past cold war
"Moreover, opinion polls showing nearly 70 percent of our citizens
believe the referenda on Taiwan's U.N. applications should take
place regardless of Washington's opposition reflect the resiliency
of the Taiwan people and may be a sign that our citizens have the
maturity and resolve to insist upon our rights under the U.N.
Charter's own principle of universality and self-determination to
join the world community despite opposition from great powers.
Finally, we believe the DPP government's bid for U.N. membership
under the name of Taiwan and of the ongoing referendum campaign does
indeed constitute a 'declaration,' but not of a wholly unnecessary
'formal independence' feared in Washington and Beijing. ..."
C) "[Taiwan's] UN Bid Can Be Viewed and Managed as a 'Genuine
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
"... Having gone through the 'road to UN' this year, anyone with a
clear mind must have seen through a fact: The issue regarding
Taiwan's UN bid has never had anything to do with international
righteousness and justice; instead, it is a matter conditioned from
head to toe by international reality and politics. In other words,
Taiwan's UN bid is not a question about whether it 'should' join the
UN or not, nor it is about whether the issue is 'reasonable' or not.
On the contrary, it is a question of whether it is 'allowed' to do
so or not. Taiwan's situation is a product structured by strong
powers like the United States and China via a series of bilateral
and multilateral agreements such as the UN resolutions and the three
communiqus. Taiwan's destiny is determined [by other powers] and
cannot possibly be changed by the results of one or two referenda.
Under the current structure and situation, the island should never
expect that the international community will suddenly change its
mind and support Taiwan's UN bid. ...
"A ruling team with wisdom and vision would not constantly
manipulate populist sentiment to deal with the current international
policy situation head on; instead, it would skillfully take
advantage of the international situation and seek the most favorable
opportunity to plan its strategy. When Taiwan's relations with
China become reconciliatory, its relations with the United States
are those built on solid and profound mutual trust, its relations
with the neighboring countries in the Asia-Pacific region are
cooperative and reciprocal; and when its national competitiveness is
increasing, and its trade and economic strength robust and strong,
who will dare to ignore Taiwan? When Taiwan's role in regional
development becomes indispensable, and when Taiwan gradually finds
out how to play a critical role in the global management, its call
for the 'UN bid' will become more righteous and self-assured. When
that moment arrives, Taiwan can start by applying for the status of
observer [in the international organizations], and one step at a
time, it can work and manage solidly to win recognition of the
international community. [When that happens,] who can say that the
UN bid will be an impossible dream for Taiwan?"
D) "U.N. Membership Bid Another Campaign Gambit"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (9/21):
"... The DPP's U.N. bid was thwarted again yesterday, when the world
body once again rejected a proposal from Taiwan's allies to put its
membership bid on the General Assembly's agenda. The rejection did
not surprise anyone, including everyone in the DPP. ... This is the
15th consecutive year that Taiwan's quest for membership in the
world body has been rejected. The DPP will continue with this
pursuit, but it will never succeed. People with an adequate
knowledge of the DPP, President Chen and Taiwan's politics are aware
that the U.N. membership campaign is actually a ruse the party has
devised to help its presidential candidate win the upcoming battle.
"President Chen has time and again promised not to seek Taiwan's
independence or change the official title of the country during his
term. Yet he has now broken these promises. ... Will this party
continue to have enough voter support to stay put? You can't fool
all the people all the time, as the saying goes."