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

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2574/01 3402233
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 062233Z DEC 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7525
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7496
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8780

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002574

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

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage December 6 on the clashes at the Taiwan Democracy Memorial
Hall (formerly known as the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall) Wednesday
over whether the inscription, which contains characters associated
with Chiang Kai-shek, should be removed from the plaque on the
entrance gate. The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times," however,
ran an exclusive news story on page six with the headline "U.S.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State is to Hold a Press Conference
for Taiwan [Media] Thursday Evening."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" commented on AIT Taipei Director
Stephen Young's speech delivered at a seminar hosted by the
Foundation on International and Cross-Strait Studies Monday. The
article said the United States should not simply demand that Taiwan
engage in a dialogue with China that is equivalent to surrender. An
op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times,"
written by Michael Cole, a writer based in Taipei, discussed China's
recent refusal of a port call in Hong Kong by USS Kitty Hawk. The
article said Beijing's decision to snub the United States was "a
calculated effort taken by an increasingly confident China to divide
and conquer." End summary.

A) "The United States Should Not Unilaterally Demand That Taiwan
Accept a Dialogue [with China] That is Equivalent to Surrender"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (12/6):

"... Ever since President Chen started to promote the UN referendum,
several times the U.S. government has arranged to have its officials
deliver remarks expressing their disagreement with such a
referendum. Thus, [AIT Director] Stephen Young's [recent] speech
regarding [Washington's] opposition to Taiwan's holding of a 'UN
referendum' and its hope that the new Taiwan president will resume
dialogue with Beijing seemed not an unusual address; instead, it
represented the U.S. government's recent position. President Chen
Shui-bian's response, on the other hand, was not meant to give tit
for tat but simply to state the fact and Taiwan's mainstream public
view, in an attempt to make the U.S. government understand that the
latter's position toward the UN referendum is a bias. He also
intended to remind [Washington] that its expectations for China were
a delusion. The peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait should
naturally be built on interactions between Taiwan and China on an
equal footing. But the U.S. government seems to be tilting toward
China because of its opposition to Taiwan's UN referendum.
Washington's original intent was perhaps to stabilize and put order
to the Taiwan Strait. But instead, what it did may send a wrong
hint to China, which, as a result, might take risks in desperation
and might cause a tragedy of cross-Strait conflicts. Surely we
believe that the U.S. government will not be happy to see such a
consequence. ...

"In other words, for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to engage in
a dialogue, it does not matter who is elected president of Taiwan;
what really matters is whether the new president will accept the
one-China principle and acknowledge that Taiwan is part of the
People's Republic of China. For any Taiwan political figure who
accepts such a condition, it will be akin to handing out a letter of
surrender to China. Any candidate who is bold enough to make such a
proposal during his campaigns surely will be rejected with scorn by
the voters, and the chances will be slim for him to be elected.
Even if he does not show his true face until after being elected, he
will be recalled by the public if he accepts the one China principle
and sells out Taiwan. In this vein, it will be Young's wishful
thinking if he expects that the two presidential candidates in the
Blue and Green camps, respectively, will resume dialogue with China.
What the United States should strive for is to urge China to give
up its one-China principle, which Beijing sees as the premise for
both sides to resume talks, and to engage in negotiations with
Taiwan unconditionally, so that both sides can get along with each
other peacefully.

"Given that China refused to allow the USS Kitty Hawk and other
naval vessels to dock in Hong Kong, so that the military officers
and soldiers serving on the vessels could spend the Thanksgiving
holiday with their families, the United States should be able to
feel deeply that even though China's national power is growing, it
remains yet to be a civilized country. Its barbarian and violent
behavior and ideology are the potential threats to the stability and
order in the international community. Therefore, the United States
must not unilaterally demand that Taiwan accept a dialogue [with
China] in the style of surrender. Only when both sides across the
Strait show respect to each other and stand on an equal footing can
a dialogue become meaningful and bring true peace for the
Asia-Pacific region."

B) "The Method in Beijing's Madness"

J. Michael Cole, a writer based in Taipei, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" (12/6):

"A tremendous amount of ink has been spilled in the past week over
Beijing's 'surprise' about-face last month, when it denied the USS
Kitty Hawk battle group entry into Hong Kong -- a snub made all the
more unpalatable to Washington as it followed on the heels of a
similar denial concerning two US minesweeping vessels. ...

"Therein lies the new regional context, one where Japan and the US,
longtime allies, are on the brink of reaching a new low on the
military and diplomatic front. This has provided Beijing with a
golden opportunity to drive a wedge between Tokyo and Washington at
a time when the US is locked down in the Middle East, facing
military overstretch and being pressured in both Japan and South
Korea to lighten its military presence, and when the North Korean
nuclear crisis is showing signs it could be resolved diplomatically.
...

"However 'contradictory,' irrational or childish Beijing's message
may have been surrounding the Kitty Hawk incident, its decision to
snub the US was anything but. It was, rather, a calculated effort
taken by an increasingly confident China to divide and conquer, and
taken straight out of the handbook on diplomatic realism. ..."

YOUNG

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