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Cablegate: Media Reaction: South Korean Presidential Election, Taiwan

VZCZCXYZ0008
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #2637/01 3550553
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210553Z DEC 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7657
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7581
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8852

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002637

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: SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, TAIWAN
ELECTIONS, BURMESE PLIGHT

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage December 21 on the Legislative Yuan ratifying the
government's 2008 budget and the amendment to Taiwan's National
Communications Commission Act on Thursday; the controversy over the
voting format in the legislative elections in January 2008; and
speculation on the possibility of more U.S. senior officials talking
publicly against to Taiwan's UN referendum. The centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" ran a banner headline on page five that
said "[DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh] Hsieh: [I have] Heard
[U.S. President George W.] Bush Also Will Go into Action to Oppose
[Taiwan's] UN Referendum."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a commentary in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" said that the circumstances in
South Korea and Taiwan are different, therefore people should not
make comparisons between the two. A commentary in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" suggested that the KMT learn from
South Korean president-elect Lee Myung-bak to win the legislative
election in January 2008 first. The pro-independence,
English-language daily "Taiwan News" discussed lessons that Taiwan
can learn from the South Korean presidential election. The
conservative, pro-unification, English-language daily "China Post"
discussed the parallels between the presidential election in South
Korea and the upcoming election in Taiwan. With regard to Taiwan's
UN referendum, a commentary in the pro-unification "United Daily
News" criticized President Chen Shui-bian's previous rhetoric that
"the UN referendum will change the world." The editorial of the
pro-independence, English-language daily "Taipei Times" criticized
the "dirty tricks" of the KMT. Regarding the situation in Burma,
Dr. Cynthia Maung had an interview with the "Taipei Times" on
Burmese political exiles' plight. End Summary.

3. South Korean Presidential Election

A) "Korean Wave, Cold Wave [Current], and Non-Standard!"

A senior political columnist Hu Wen-hui wrote in his column in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation 720,000] (12/21):

"... Taiwan will hold its presidential election in March of next
year. This inevitably draws comparisons with the South Korean
presidential election. But the two countries' [sic] national
conditions, political structure and circumstances in the
international community are very different. It is not possible to
transplant the South Korean experience [into Taiwan]. ..."

B) "Seeing the Rabbit and Forget About the Tiger"

Columnist Antonio Chiang wrote in his column in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (12/21)

"... If the KMT is confident in itself, it should learn from [South
Korean president-elect] Lee Myung-bak's strategy of making
concessions in order to gain advantages. It [the KMT] should not
get entangled with the DPP on technical, trivial things such as
"one-step" or "two-step" voting formats. [The KMT] should do its
utmost to win people's minds, sprint for votes and seats in the
legislative election [in January 2008], and leave other issues for
after the [legislative] election. Win the people's minds first, get
enough seats second, and then there is no need to be afraid of
political 'dirty tricks'. ..."

C) "What Korean Polls Mean for Taiwan"

The pro-independence, English-language daily "Taiwan News"
[circulation: 20,000] editorialized (12/21):

"... [DPP presidential candidate Frank] Hsieh and the DPP must not
ignore the message sent by [South Korean President] Roh's defeat of
the need to more seriously offer clear and robust policy directions,
especially in the fields of economics, social welfare and
sustainable development. ...

"[KMT presidential candidate] Ma's calls for faster and virtually
unconditional lifting of economic channels with the hostile People's
Republic of China, combined with his own weak-kneed stance toward
Beijing, may also backfire, just as did Roh's 'sunshine' policy
[toward North Korea], in the face of anxiety among workers, farmers,
and small enterprises of the impact on their employment and business
prospects of an 'open door' to a flood of cheap imports into Taiwan
and an exodus of Taiwan capital and jobs to the mainland. ..."

D) "Impact of Presidential Election in South Korea"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language daily "The China
Post" [circulation: 30,000] editorialized (12/21):

"... There are marked parallels between this presidential election
ELECTIONS, BURMESE PLIGHT

and the one that is to take place here in Taiwan next March. The
results of the Korean election, therefore, deserve the attention of
the people here. ...

"The DPP is more concerned about how it can retain its position as
the ruling party. There is nothing wrong with this, as how to stay
in power is a concern of every ruling party. But the DPP has
hampered Taiwan's rapid growth by focusing its attention exclusively
on political goals. ...

"Taiwan and South Korea, along with Hong Kong and Singapore, have
been referred to as the 'Four Little Tigers of Asia.' But Taiwan,
which used to be the frontrunner among the 'tigers,' has fallen
behind the others. This miserable state of affairs will certainly
continue unless the island's voters are wise enough to choose a
leader who can effectively revitalize the economy and promote peace
in the Taiwan Strait."

4. Taiwan Elections

A) "A-Bian Wants to Change the Whole World?"

A column in the pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation:
400,000] (12/21):

"... Chen Shui-bian said that the UN referendum can 'make the whole
world change.' If it is only to deceive himself as well as others,
everyone might as well put up with it for more than one hundred days
until [Chen Shui-bian] steps down. But if he really wants to take
this as an excuse to change the 'status quo' across the [Taiwan]
Strait with a further attempt to challenge the peace in East Asia,
and even the global order, then it will be a calamity!"

B) "KMT's Election Strategy Is All Lies"

The pro-independence, English-language daily "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (12/21):

"... The images of a 'dirty' DPP and a 'power-crazed' Chen are
simply the product of the pro-unification media and the KMT's
propaganda machine. The KMT has decades of experience in control and
manipulation of the media and remains extremely adept at it.

"For an example of how these two powerful institutions work in
tandem to minimize bad press for the KMT, one need only look at what
happened when news broke that Siew had told Burghardt that the KMT's
insistence on two-step voting would mean the DPP's UN referendum
would fail. Evidence that it Q working to suppress Taiwan
internationally in line with China's goals is not something the KMT
wants occupying the headlines. ..."

5. Burmese Plight

"Maung Discusses the Plight of Political Exiles"

The pro-independence, English-language daily "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] had an interview with Dr. Cynthia Maung last
week when Maung came to Taiwan to receive the 2007 Asia Democracy
and Human Rights Award (12/21):

"... In an interview with the Taipei Times last Friday, Maung
compared statelessness among the Burmese in Thailand to Taiwanese
striving for statehood, saying that "the main problem in Burma is
the military dictatorship ruling the country.

"'One interesting thing I saw in Taiwan is that Taiwan also faces
the same challenge. Until now Taiwan is not recognized by the United
Nations [UN] as one nation ... But because of freedom and democracy,
Taiwan has made lots of improvement,' she said.

"'The difference between Burma and Taiwan is that you are on your
own land and you have a democratic leadership ... But for the
Burmese, they have to live in other countries as illegal and
stateless people, and there are always constant threats of arrest
and deportation...'"

YOUNG

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