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


DE RUEHIN #2474/01 3180217
R 140217Z NOV 07 ZDK





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage November 10-13 on AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young's press
conference Friday, in which he emphasized that "the UN referendum is
neither necessary nor helpful"; on some newly-produced portable hard
drives in Taiwan which were discovered to have been pre-installed
with Trojan Horse viruses by China's Net Force; and on a U.S.
citizen, who reportedly stowed away from China to Taiwan in
mid-September. The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" ran a banner
headline on page twelve November 10 that read "The United States Has
Spoken Out Against [the UN] Referendum for the Fifth Time; Stephen
Young: There is a Price to Be Paid in Mutual Trust between the
United States and Taiwan."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed AIT Director Stephen
Young's press conference and said "to a certain extent, not only
Taiwan but also the United States have been put on a short leash by
President Chen Shui-bian." An op-ed in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times," on the other hand, urged Young to respect the
prevailing public view in the United States, Japan and Taiwan, which
supports Taiwan's UN bid. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News" said the United States is misguided
with regard to the DPP's UN referendum. End summary.

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A) "Even the Americans Have Raised Their Voices and Spoken out
[against President Chen Shui-bian]"

The "Short Commentary" column in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China
Times" [circulation: 400,000] wrote (11/10):

"... In a press conference held Friday, AIT Taipei Director Stephen
Young, with a rare and significant gesture, indicated that the
United States believes Taiwan's UN referendum will pose a threat to
cross-Strait stability and that 'there is a price to be paid in
mutual trust between Taiwan and the United States' if Taiwan fails
to heed the U.S. opinion. ... To a certain extent, not only Taiwan
but also the United States have been put on a short leash by Chen
Shui-bian. The bargaining chips Chen holds in his hands that make
him so fearless are Taiwan's strategic significance for the United
States and the U.S.'s strong moral obligations toward Taiwan. But
the question is: wouldn't Taiwan's situation become more dangerous
if such relations were jeopardized? Didn't [Chen] claim that the UN
referendum was meant to protect Taiwan?"

B) "AIT Director Young, Please Respect Public Opinion in the United
States, Japan and Taiwan"

Chang Ming-you, a graduate student at Kainan University's Public
Affairs Department, opined in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
[circulation: 720,000] (11/12):

"... AIT held a press conference on November 9, in which Director
Stephen Young said the United States believes that Taiwan's UN
referendum appears inconsistent with the spirit of President Chen
Shui-bian's public commitments. "The referendum is neither
necessary nor helpful," Young said, and he went further to emphasize
in Chinese that the referendum is "bu bi and bu li." [I] am sure
that many Taiwan people will feel indignant [about Young's
statement] and wonder how the United States can interfere with
Taiwan's right to exercise 'direct democracy?' This is the right of
the [Taiwan] people empowered by democracy; to push for [the
island's] UN bid is to maintain Taiwan's dignity, and all the more,
it will fulfill President Chen's commitment to the Taiwan people.
The AIT director should thus apologize to the Taiwan people for his
remarks. ...

"No international organization is able to turn down [the island's]
application for membership using the name Taiwan, and Taiwan is the
name of this country. Seventy percent of the people in the United
States support Taiwan's referendum on its UN membership, and more
than seventy percent of the Taiwan people also support such a move.
Neither the U.S. government nor the international community should
overlook Taiwan's voices, rights and interests. Young said with a
threatening tone that "We call upon Taiwan's politicians and voters
to adopt a careful and moderate approach to this issue, and to avoid
risking acts that cannot really help Taiwan's actual international
status." It might well be asked: If [the UN referendum] really
cannot help Taiwan's status, it would mean that a democratic country
cannot help protect the rights and interests of its people. [Should
that be the case,] the United States, a democratic country which
calls itself the 'world's policeman,' has lost its public
credibility; all it wants is to exchange interests with 'China,' a
totalitarian country, and totally ignore Taiwan's interests and
peace. ...

"Taiwan people should use our votes to assert our national dignity;
we will not compromise because of AIT's threats. The United States
has no right to oppose [us]. We want to awaken the international
community's attention to Taiwan's status and interests. Moreover,

we want AIT to shut up."

C) "U.S. Misguided on DPP Referendum"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (11/13):

"Despite months of indirect and direct dialogue, the current United
States administration under President George W. Bush is still unable
to appreciate the underlying reasons for the referendum proposed by
the governing Democratic Progressive Party advocating the use of the
name of "Taiwan" to enter the United Nations. This state of affairs
was revealed by American Institute in Taiwan Director Stephen Young
during a news conference November 9 with regard to what he termed a
'rough patch' in bilateral relations 'over this government's United
Nations referendum.' Although commendably far more respectful of
Taiwan's democracy than previous remarks by U.S. officials, Young
stated that the upcoming referendum was 'neither necessary or
helpful' and renewed Washington's call 'upon Taiwan's politicians
and voters to adopt a careful and moderate approach to cross-Strait
relations and to avoid risking acts that cannot really help Taiwan's
actual international status.'

"Contrary to Young's impressions, the 'bottom-up' referendum
initiative was launched by the Democratic Progressive Party, which
remains a civic organization even though it is the governing party,
and an alliance of civic and social reform groups. ... Moreover,
the fact that the petition campaign has received over 2.7 million
signatures from Taiwan citizens, a number over 10 times the DPP
membership, should indicate that many Taiwan citizens do believe
that the referendum is 'necessary and helpful' to 'Taiwan's actual
international status.' ...

"We believe that it is unfortunate that Young did not reaffirm the
position of former U.S. president Bill Clinton in March 2000 that
any such resolution 'must have the assent of the Taiwan people.'
Nevertheless, Young's position does match Washington's forceful
reaction to the misinterpretation made of United Nations General
Assembly Resolution 2758 made by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
earlier this year when Ban stated that the October 1971 resolution
which mandated the transfer of the 'China' seats from the late
dictator Chiang Kai-shek's exiled Kuomintang regime to the PRC also
meant that "Taiwan is part of the PRC" as far as the U.N. is
concerned. ...

"But the more fundamental question is, what does the U.S. envisage
Taiwan to be politically? Young asserted that the U.S. does not
support Taiwan's membership in international organizations for which
statehood is a requirement and thus implied that Taiwan does not
meet the standards of having statehood, but did say that Washington
supports greater participation by Taiwan in international
organizations and backs proposals for Taiwan to become a formal
observer in the World Health Organization. Hence, if Washington
does not consider Taiwan to possess 'statehood,' it at least
considers Taiwan to be a distinct political entity. From this
perspective, Washington's insistence that 'the status quo cannot be
unilaterally changed by either side of the Taiwan Strait' implies
that the U.S. would prefer Taiwan to remain an independent political
entity without any change.

"Although Young said Washington opposes Beijing's efforts to squeeze
Taiwan's international space, his remarks also reveal a blindness
over the persistent and ruthless drive by the PRC to squeeze
Taiwan's actual room for participation and our status in
international organizations, even those which do not involve
statehood. ... As President Chen himself has noted, a referendum in
which all of our citizens have the option to vote is vastly
different from an opinion poll in terms of the breadth of
participation, the preceding process of debate and deliberation and
the legal mandate of an exercise in direct democracy that will also
stand as an expression of the collective voice of the Taiwan people
to safeguard their independence by officially becoming a full member
of the international community."


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