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


DE RUEHIN #2601/01 3470151
R 130151Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language and English-language
dailies gave significant reporting and editorial coverage December
12 to AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt's press briefing Tuesday, in
which he severely criticized Taiwan's UN referendum and urged
President Chen Shui-bian to keep his pledge. News coverage also
focused on Taiwan's Legislative Yuan, which on Tuesday passed the
budget to purchase four PAC-3 missile systems and the budget for
assessing the possibility to procure diesel-powered submarines. The
pro-unification "United Daily News" front-paged a banner headline
that said "Raymond Burghardt Slams 'UN Referendum as Going through
the Back Door; [the Referendum] Appears to Have Dodged But Actually
Has Violated the Four Noes and Caused Trouble." The newspaper also
ran a banner headline on page four that said: "The United States
Discloses Its Bargaining Chips: Will Not Allow Bian to Do What He
Pleases." The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" also ran a banner
headline on page four that read "Raymond Burghardt: UN Referendum is
a Clever Way Which Goes through the Back Door."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" urged Washington to respect and
affirm Taiwan's UN bid because it is aimed at expressing the Taiwan
people's desire to make Taiwan into a normal country. An editorial
in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" said that AIT Chairman
Burghardt's remarks Tuesday fully indicated Washington's mistrust
and doubts about President Chen's integrity. End summary. [Ed.
Note: Public Affairs staff was released early today to attend AIT's
annual Christmas party. More media reaction on Burghardt visit will
follow tomorrow.]

A) "'UN Bid' Is Aimed at Expressing the Voice of [the Taiwan]
People's Hearts, and the United States Should Respect and Affirm

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

"... Even though the United States has made many comments on
Taiwan's UN referendum lately, its position remains the same when it
talks about Taiwan's defense issues. While criticizing the UN
referendum as 'neither necessary nor helpful' in early December, AIT
Taipei Director Stephen Young also reiterated that, under the
'Taiwan Relations Act,' the United States will continue close
cooperation [with Taiwan], assist Taiwan to address security
challenges from China, and will approve the sales of appropriate
defensive weapons [to the island] that are aimed at ensuring
Taiwan's self-defense capabilities. It is obvious that China can
hardly get what it wishes when it exerts pressure on the United
States regarding this issue. ...

"During November alone, the military relationship between China and
the United States has dropped from its highest point of establishing
a hotline to the lowest point, when USS Kitty Hawk sailed through
the Taiwan Strait. All these developments indicated that [building]
mutual trust between Chinese and the U.S. militaries is not an easy
matter. Over the past few years, the rapid growth of China's
defense budgets and its low military transparency have long aroused
concerns in the region. In addition, China's evident intent to seek
hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region has challenged the United
States' strategic interests in the region; as long as China's [evil]
ambition remains, the chances are slim for China and the United
States to live together in peace. But a look back at Taiwan shows
that the island is trying to express in a democratic way the voice
and desire of its 23 million people to make Taiwan a normal country.
Such a move is fully consistent with the UN's principles and
procedures of peace, and it deserves the United States' respect and

B) "It is Bian's Integrity that Raymond Burghardt Questions"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
editorialized (12/12):

"AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt said yesterday that the UN
referendum has violated the Four Noes pledge, and he hopes that
President Chen will 'ensure that Taiwan's new president will have an
opportunity to deal with cross-Strait relations; that the new
president can make his own decisions without his hands being tied;
and that there will be a peaceful change of leadership.' Burghardt
used a series of negative sentences and doubtful tones in his talk,
which fully indicated the United States' mistrust of President Chen.
What is worse is that such mistrust does not come from
[Washington's] objective assessment of Taiwan's environment but from
its understanding of Bian's personality and character; [Washington]
believes that Bian may well act recklessly, and this is certainly a
disparagement of Bian.

"Burghardt said that, even though it appears that the UN referendum
does not violate the Four Noes pledge, the United States believes
that it has done so and said that the Taiwan government did it

through the back door. Judged from the perspective of [Taiwan's]
sovereignty, Burghardt has indeed rudely interfered with Taiwan's
internal affairs. But the UN referendum under the name Taiwan has
indeed had the intent to perpetrate a hoax; it is a referendum
intended to change [Taiwan's] national name in disguise, which has
violated the second of the 'Four Noes' pledge -- that [Taiwan] 'will
not change its national name.' This is what Burghardt meant by
'through the back door.' Why did the United States openly interfere
with Taiwan's domestic affairs then? Besides the fact that
Washington did not interfere with [Taiwan's] internal affairs since
the U.S. government does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state,
the United States is legally obliged to defend Taiwan, so it surely
has the right to intervene and stop Taiwan from starting a war,
which will result in the sacrifice of U.S. soldiers. The Bian
administration must realize that.

"Burghardt's [open] opposition to the UN referendum was also aimed
at showing it to Beijing. But the most extraordinary and sternest
part of his talk this time was his warning to Bian that he must not
tie the new president's hands and his demand that Bian ensure a
peaceful change of leadership. In terms of diplomacy, [Burghardt's
remarks] indicated overwhelming mistrust and humiliation against the
president of a host country and were thus extremely rude. ... How
come Chen Shui-bian has caused such worries, doubts and given
Taiwan's major ally such an impression? Bian must clarify this
himself. ..."


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