Cablegate: Media Reaction: China's Launch of Lunar Explorer
DE RUEHIN #2418 3030932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300932Z OCT 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7263
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7399
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8683
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002418
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: CHINA'S LAUNCH OF LUNAR EXPLORER
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage October 30 on mounting gasoline prices, on the 2008
presidential election, on the UN referendum, and on the soaring
stock price index in Taiwan, which reached a seven-year high Monday.
In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" discussed China's recent launch
of the Chang'e lunar explorer. The article suggested that Taiwan
pay attention to Beijing's changes in its international and
cross-Strait strategies. An editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" said "[t]he Chang'e
expedition will drastically increase China's military capability and
its influence on other countries." End summary.
A) "Interpreting [the Launch of] Chang'e [Lunar Explorer]: Taiwan's
[Cross-Strait Policy] Should Still Focus 70 Percent on Politics and
30 Percent on Military"
The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
"... The launch of the 'Chang'e-1' lunar explorer was in reality a
prelude to Beijing's plan to build a space station, which will be
followed up by the establishment of a space command center and
deployment of space weapons. What is noteworthy is not the military
intention behind the 'Chang'e-1' lunar explorer but Beijing's change
in its international and cross-Strait strategies. Beijing will no
longer 'show off its might by saber-rattling;' instead, it has
started to emphasize its 'soft power' of exploring energy on the
moon [sic]. But this does not mean that Beijing no longer attaches
great importance to military development; the two-digit growth in
China's defense budgets over the past two decades evidently
indicates its attempt to continue developing its military strength,
except that it has turned to develop it in a low-profile manner.
China's successful launch of an anti-satellite missile in early
2007, making it the third country in the world after the United
States and Russia to have such capability, as well as its move to
make public new weapons such as the J10 fighter jets, Type 094 and
093 nuclear-powered submarines, and the Dongfeng-21 mid-range
ballistic missiles, have all highlighted that Beijing is also
expanding its 'hard power' significantly. ..."
B) "China Flying to the Moon"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (10/30):
"The launch of the lunar explorer Chang'e from the Xichang Satellite
Launch Centre in southwestern Sichuan province Wednesday garnered
international media attention as a move that at once heated up the
space race in Asia and enhanced China's status as a major power.
"China's military has been in charge of the space program from the
beginning. The Chang'e expedition will drastically increase China's
military capability and its influence on other countries. No
wonder, in his report to the just concluded 17th National Congress
of the Communist Party of China, President Hu Jintao surprisingly
did not threaten to use force against Taiwan, as mandated by a 2005
Anti-Secession Law, despite Taipei's plan to hold a referendum on
joining the U.N. as a non-Chinese state."