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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Arms Sales

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1037 1970824
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150824Z JUL 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9506
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8448
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9671

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001037

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.-TAIWAN ARMS SALES

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage July 15 on President Ma Ying-jeou's interview with a German
newspaper and KMT Vice Chairman John Kuan's remarks regarding
Taiwan's unification with China; on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's
financial crisis and the impact on Taiwan; and on the rescue effort
for eight missing Taiwan businessmen in waters off Madagascar. In
terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" warned the Ma Administration that
being ambiguous regarding arms procurement from the United States
will jeopardize the United States' willingness to defend for Taiwan,
and people in Taiwan will cast doubt on Ma's willingness to defend
Taiwan's democracy as well. End summary.

"To Protect Democracy, Ma Must Demonstrate His Will"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
editorialized (7/15):

"Although cross-Strait relations have made admirable and
ground-breaking progress with respect to the three links and
tourism, it is more and more worrisome where political and national
defense developments are leading. What on earth is going on in
[Taiwan President] Ma Ying-jeou's mind? It is really suspicious.

"Just look at the most recent development. Yesterday, news [in
Taiwan] cited China's 'Wen Wei Po' as reporting that KMT Vice
Chairman John Kuan said in China that the KMT genuinely hopes that
if the KMT stays in power for a long time, peaceful unification with
China will be achieved. ...

"And look at an earlier development. [United States] White House
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley personally telephoned
[Taiwan's] National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi not
long ago and took the initiative to mention that the United States
has suspended its arms sales to Taiwan. Why did the United States
make this move? Part of the reason is that [United States President
George W.] Bush does not want to upset China before the Olympic
Games and before he steps down. In addition, Su asked to suspend
arms procurement when he met with [United States] Senator [Joseph]
Biden's chief assistant [Frank Jannuzi] recently. The reason that
Su dared to do so is because Ma had expressed his intention to the
United States about suspending the arms procurement when Ma was
elected [president in March].

"As a result, in less than one short month, the Taiwan government
has told the United States it will suspend the arms procurement.
The United States followed up by suspending arms sales to Taiwan.
If one links up Ma, Su, and Kuan's [moves], how can people not worry
about the development of the Ma Administration's cross-Strait
policy? Even if Ma has guaranteed no unification, no independence,
and no use of force during his term, things seem to be in chaos; how
can people not feel perplexed?

"The so-called 'suspension' of the arms procurement is just a
semantic smokescreen, which sounds as if the arms procurement will
proceed in the future. However, Bush is finishing his term soon.
It is likely that the successor [to Bush] will stop selling arms to
Taiwan, especially if [Democratic presidential candidate Barack]
Obama is elected [United States President].

"If Taiwan does not procure arms anymore, Taiwan will not only leave
its door open in terms of national defense and lose all the
bargaining chips with China, but it will also be unable to have the
United States and Japan's trust and security commitment. At that
time, Taiwan will be something that China can get easily.

"Taiwan's [ambiguous] attitude with regard to national defense will
definitely weaken the United States and Japan's willingness to
defend for Taiwan. [The United States and Japan] will also question
Taiwan's strategic implications. The reason that Taiwan procures
arms is to maintain a certain equilibrium, not to oppose China. ..."


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