Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Taiwan Policy
DE RUEHIN #2523/01 3270917
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230917Z NOV 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7440
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7466
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8755
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002523
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. TAIWAN POLICY
Summary: News coverage of Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies
November 22-23 focused on a speech by Taiwan Representative to the
U.S. Joseph Wu at Johns Hopkins University November 20, in which he
said Taiwan that understands the U.S. has no obligation to defend
Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act. The arrangements for ballot
issuance at the upcoming legislative elections also attracted much
press attention as the central government and pan-Blue local
governments disputed over whose plan will infringe voters' right to
a secret vote. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a
commentary in the pro-unification "United Daily News" said Joseph
Wu's statement was inappropriate. An editorial of the
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" said the U.S.
should support Taiwan more by selling F-16 C/D jet fighters and
negotiating a bilateral free trade agreement. End summary.
A) "Joseph Wu Overstates and Helps to 'Set the Americans Free'"
Washington correspondent Vincent Chang of the pro-unification
"United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] wrote in a commentary
"... In fact, even though the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) does not
provide that the U.S. must 'fight for Taiwan,' it does not say the
U.S. 'will not fight for Taiwan.'
"... It is clear then that drafters of the TRA had left significant
flexibility and discretion between the lines for the U.S. President
and Congress. Whether the Americans will fight for Taiwan is to be
determined by the U.S. rather than by the Taiwan side. One cannot
complain if the Americans refuse to recognize this obligation. But
for a Taiwan Representative to 'help set the Americans free' on this
issue is really unthinkable."
B) "U.S. Security Needs Democratic Taiwan"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (11/22):
"We support the call by the United States-China Economic and
Security Commission (USCC) on the U.S. Congress to encourage
President George W. Bush's administration to assist Taiwan maintain
its defenses against a rising military threat by the People's
Republic of China.
"... However, current U.S. policy toward Taiwan remains sadly
dominated by decision makers who advocate 'pre-emptive intervention'
and wage war for oil or other resources against weak dictatorships
under the banner of 'freedom' (mainly for business), but quickly
'turn the other cheek' and appease Beijing's dictatorship by trying
to restrain Taiwan's democratic procedures, such as the upcoming
referendum on whether to join the United Nations under the name of
"Washington has also made no effort to engage in negotiations, much
less sign, a free trade agreement with Taiwan which would help our
economy build deeper linkages with the advanced U.S. market instead
of exacerbating our dependence on the PRC's uncertain roller-coaster
"After demanding that Taiwan display its willingness to build the
capacity to defend itself against PRC annexation, the Bush
administration has refused to agree to sell upgraded F-16 C/D jet
fighters, even after the opposition dominated Legislature agreed to
fund the procurement after heavy lobbying by the Democratic
Progressive Party government.
"These trends have placed Taiwan in a disadvantageous position
relative to the PRC and exacerbated the difficulty in defending our
hard-won democracy against external intimidation by the PRC and
pro-unificationist forces at home. Taiwan is already overly
integrated into the PRC orbit to the extent that our political as
well as economic autonomy is eroding due to the pervasive impact of
vested business interests.
"... In contrast to the rigidity shown by U.S. external policy in
recent years, the PRC has been considerably more adroit and flexible
in manipulating cross-strait relations, gaining the initiative in
Sino-American ties and turning Washington from the defender of
global democracy into a proto-accomplice in suppressing global human
rights in the name of 'anti-terrorism' and curbing democracy in
Taiwan, thus undermining the morale of democratic forces in 'greater
China' and Asia as well.
"Bewitched by a narrow conception of U.S. 'national interests' that
highlights 'anti-terrorism' and an imperial hubris that denigrates
the importance of genuine democracy in world politics, the current
U.S. administration has been willfully blind to the structural
change in the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait in recent years
in favor of the PRC, which it foolishly sees as an 'ally' in the
'war against terror.' ..."