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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2436 3061042
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021042Z NOV 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7286
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7411
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8696

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002436

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage November 2 on the recent fuel price hikes on the island; on
former KMT Chairman Lien Chan's outcry Thursday against the KMT's
elimination of the wording of "cross-Strait consensus of 1992" from
its party document laying out next year's central platform; and on
the UN referendum. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an
op-ed piece in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
called on Taiwan to be vigilant of the possibility that China may
use its arms sales as a tool to threaten the United States' arms
sales to Taiwan. A separate op-ed by Richard Halloran, a writer
based in Hawaii, suggested that the Bush administration fashion a
cross-Strait policy of strategic clarity and tactical ambiguity and
"dump the 'one China' policy in favor of asserting that the ultimate
resolution of the Taiwan question would be governed by the principle
of self-determination." End summary.

A) "China's Arms Sales May Press US"

Cheng Ta-chen, an independent defense analyst in Taipei, opined in
the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (11/2):

"... Figures published by the US Congressional Research Service show
that China has sold ammunition, especially missiles, to developing
countries for an average amount of US$1.3 billion per year in the
past few years. This is the fifth-largest amount in the world.
Compared with the arms sales of countries like the US and Russia, it
is still only a small amount -- less than one-eighth of US arms
sales to developing countries. But because some of the countries
that buy arms from China are countries that the US regards as "rogue
states" -- such as Iran and North Korea -- the US is still worried
about it.

"Given these circumstances, it is possible that China will use its
arms sales as a tool to threaten the US' international arms sales.
In the past, China has always protested the US policy of selling
weapons to Taiwan, but to its regret it has had no means to
effectively respond to or counter it. But now the situation has
changed. With the improved quality of Chinese arms and the expansion
of its international arms sales, if the incentive is big enough, the
US government might decide to abandon the sale of certain kinds of
arms to Taiwan if that is a condition China sets. If that happens,
the difficult situation Taiwan faces with regard to its national
security and modernization could become even more precarious because
of this new form of arms sales-related pressure that China may be
exercising over the US. This could also result in further
complications in relations between Taiwan and the US. The Taiwanese
public must be vigilant."

B) "Trade the Ambiguity for a Clear US Policy"

Richard Halloran, a writer based in Hawaii, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (11/2):

"... Although the debate over the "one China" policy among Chinese,
Taiwanese and various US factions sometimes takes on theological
overtones worthy of Jesuit or Talmudic scholars, it is a serious
issue in which one misstep could lead to war.
Adding to the confusion has been the US policy of 'strategic
ambiguity.' It is intended to keep the Chinese and Taiwanese
guessing as to what the US would do if China attacked Taiwan.
Unhappily, strategic ambiguity has confused both of them, the US
people and just about everyone else.

"In sum, the 'one China' policy and 'strategic ambiguity' have made
an inherently unstable confrontation across the Taiwan Strait all
the more susceptible to miscalculation, which down through history
has been the greatest cause of war. Perhaps it is time for the
administration of US President George W. Bush to fashion a policy
of: (a) strategic clarity, in which the US would set out explicitly
its objectives in the confrontation between China and Taiwan; (b)
tactical ambiguity, in which the US would declare that it would
respond to threats to the peace in a political, economic and
military manner of its own choosing and timing.

"The US would dump the 'one China' policy in favor of asserting that
the ultimate resolution of the Taiwan question would be governed by
the honored principle of self-determination. The new policy would
insist that the Taiwanese be allowed to decide on the nation's
status. They would also be entitled to determine when they would
decide. The people of Taiwan would be permitted to tell China, the
US and everyone else to leave them alone. ..."

YOUNG

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