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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Un Referendum, U.S.-Taiwan

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2500/01 3231031
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191031Z NOV 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7404
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7443
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8731

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002500

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: TAIWAN'S UN REFERENDUM, U.S.-TAIWAN
RELATIONS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage November 17-19 on a Taiwan High Court verdict last Friday,
which ruled in favor of DPP Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu on an appeal of
the nullification of her election last December; on a Central
Election Committee decision Friday to adopt "one-step voting" for
the 2008 legislative elections; and on the 2008 presidential
election. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in
the pro-independence "Liberty Times" said both the referenda pushed
by the DPP and the KMT on Taiwan's UN membership are moves that
affirm Taiwan as an independent sovereign state and a milestone that
marks a step by Taiwan to move toward a normal country. A "Liberty
Times" op-ed discussed the annual report published by the U.S.-China
Economic and Security Review Commission recently. The article urged
Washington not to forget Taiwan's strategic importance for the
United States. End summary.

2. Taiwan's UN Referendum

"The Objectives of Joining or Re-joining the UN Should Both Be To
Maintain the Status of Taiwan's Independent Sovereignty"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (11/19):

"... The referenda [on Taiwan's bid] to join or re-join the UN, each
endorsed by the Taiwan public, reveal the Taiwan people's
determination to become a member of the international body. The
core of such an idea lies in the Taiwan people's assertion of the
island's status as an independent sovereign entity. Taiwan, being
an independent sovereign state, is Taiwan, while China is China.
The Taiwan people are by no means willing to become part of China,
and the consistent spirit of the island's campaign can be seen,
starting from its name change, through the writing of a new
constitution, to its UN bid. In that vein, it is certainly out of
the question for Taiwan to conduct a unification referendum, as
requested by China. Should Taiwan hold such a referendum, it would
contradict the island's status as an independent sovereign entity
regardless of whether such a referendum were popularly approved or
not.

"Both the ruling and opposition parties could strive for their
respective referenda to join or re-join the UN, but their objectives
should both be to promote Taiwan becoming a normal country. The
referenda to join or re-join the UN are neither a dispute about
wording nor a campaign tool for any specific political party.
Instead, it is a move that affirms Taiwan as an independent
sovereign state and a milestone that marks a step by Taiwan to move
toward becoming a normal country."

3. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

"The U.S. Also Needs Taiwan"

Assistant Professor Cheng Ta-cheng at the National Taiwan University
of Science and Technology opined in the pro-independence "Liberty
Times" [circulation: 720,000] (11/18):

"The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission has recently
released its annual report, in which it said Taiwan's national
defense depends entirely on the United States and that without U.S.
aid, Taiwan will not be able to defend itself against an attack by
the People's Liberation Army. This report has its points, but the
United States should not forget that Taiwan is also very important
for U.S. strategy in the Asian-Pacific region.

"First, Taiwan plays an important role of a 'pressure point' in the
'first island chain.' If Taiwan can hold fast and resist any
attacks, the United States can exert tremendous and continuous
pressure on China via this 'pressure point.' Likewise, if China
takes over Taiwan, it can also reversely impose its military
pressure to the east of the 'first island chain' via Taiwan. As a
result, for China, Taiwan is never just 'a province of the Chinese
motherland' with which it must unify, but a strategic point it must
break through in order to penetrate the United States's long-term
plan to engage in a 'war of suffocation' in the 'first island
chain.' ...

"The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission suggested
that the U.S. government continue cooperation with Taiwan to promote
[the island's] military modernization and joint combat capabilities.
This is in the right direction, but in its report, the commission
did not support [Washington's] sale of advanced weaponry, such as
the F-16C/D fighter jets, to Taiwan. How then is Taiwan's military
going to modernize itself? Secondly, in addition to upgrading
military equipment, it also requires actual joint exercises
experience between the two sides so as to be able to really enhance
Taiwan's 'joint combat capabilities.' But the United States has
failed to put this issue into consideration. Should any conflicts
RELATIONS

break out in the Taiwan Strait, can the U.S. military expect Taiwan
to fight shoulder to shoulder with it? In addition, the United
States is clearly aware of Taiwan's military value, but it has
failed to develop a closer relationship with Taiwan in terms of
military bases and garrison of troops. Probably no one has any idea
how both sides are going to fight in coordination with each other
during the wartime. ..."

YOUNG

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