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


DE RUEHIN #1109/01 2112324
R 292324Z JUL 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage July 26-29 on Typhoon Fung-wong, which swept across the
island Monday; on the current status of the U.S.-Taiwan arms deals;
on the title of Taiwan's Olympic team; and on President Ma
Ying-jeou's upcoming trip to Paraguay and the Dominican Republic.
Taiwan's interest in obtaining submarines, either by purchasing them
from the United States or by building its own, has grasped close
media attention. The pro-unification "United Daily News" ran a
banner headline on page four July 28 reading "The Submarines
Procurement Surface Again Following Four Year's of Silence." In
addition, the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" continued carrying
reports over the weekend on the Rim of the Pacific joint military.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed the true meaning of
"diplomatic truce" between Taiwan and China and urged President Ma
Ying-jeou to strengthen communication with the United States over
the developments in cross-Strait relations. A "China Times" column
also listed the major challenges that Ma's national security team is
facing and questioned whether Ma has really tried to maintain good
communication with the United States. A separate "China Times"
op-ed piece discussed Washington's and Tokyo's doubts about the Ma
Administration's international strategy and the way it handled
Taiwan's relations with the United States and Japan. An editorial
in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" discussed
the remarks by former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense and now World
Bank President Paul Wolfowitz to the American chamber of Commerce in
Taipei last week and the current state of U.S.-Taiwan arms deals.
The article said "if U.S. President George w. Bush does not live up
to Wolfowitz's expectations and does not release the arms, then
these things will become crystal clear: the pro-China group in the
State Department will have triumphed, ... and Taiwan's security will
be at the mercy of the U.S. electoral process, giving China even
more time to tighten the screws." An editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" also discussed the
U.S.-Taiwan arms deals and said despite the warming cross-Strait
relations, Taiwan has yet to regard Beijing as a neighbor of peace.
As a result, the article said, arms procurements are important for
Taiwan. End summary.

A) "The True Meaning of 'Diplomatic Truce' as Seen in Light of
President Ma's Overseas Visit"

The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (7/29):

"... Another task that President Ma [Ying-jeou] needs to do [during
his overseas trip to Paraguay and the Dominican Republic in
mid-August] is to reinforce his communication with the United
States. The alarm over the cross-Strait tension has been terminated
for the time being since the Ma Administration assumed position.
But the warming cross-Strait relations are a big issue for the
United States as well. This is because [Washington] is not as sure
as it was before as to whether at this moment Taiwan is on the U.S.
side or on Beijing's side. Unfortunately, it is the hard fact that
Ma has yet to come up with a clear exposition on this matter. The
[Ma] Administration's governance so far is also deemed by most
people as leaning toward Beijing and does not have a mechanism for
self-correction or keeping vigilant.

"Nevertheless, in terms of military, economy and international
space, the United States is Taiwan's most important support. Since
the alleged reports that [the United States] has frozen the arms
sales [to Taiwan] began to circulate, the United States has been
waiting for the Ma Administration to give an explanation. If given
a chance, Ma should try hard to dispel the [United States'] doubts
on this matter during his transits in the States, and he might as
well clear the matter to the Taiwan people. A president is someone
who is meant to make great deeds. Instead of being fussy about
meticulousness such as taking a chartered flight to save money, it
is better that [Ma] spend his energy on managing the direction of
the country's development."

B) "The Challenges that Confront Ma Ying-jeou's National Security

Deputy Editor-in-Chief Kuo Chen-lung wrote in the "International
Column" in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation:
400,000] (7/29):

"The national security policy of the Ma Ying-jeou Administration has
apparently become a target of public criticism. The criticism
include the [administration's] haste in easing cross-Strait
policies, not doing its best to realize the United States' arms
sales to Taiwan, and being slow in appointing [whom to be] Taiwan's
representative to Japan. Looking into the seventy days after Ma
assumed office, Ma's national security team is facing following
challenges in four aspects:

"First, in terms of mainland China, although [both sides of the
Taiwan Strait] started the economic negotiation first, when would
the political negotiation start? ...

"Secondly, in terms of Japan, under the principle that [Taiwan's]
sovereignty cannot be compromised, how [do Taiwan and Japan] set
aside controversies [over the Tiaoyutai Islands and Taiwan's role in
the Japan-China dispute in exploring the gas field over the East
China Sea]? Is the brinkmanship one of the strategies [of Ma's
national security team]? ...

"Thirdly, in terms of the Untied States, whether [Ma's national
security team] has been fully communicating with and informing the
United States? Have the relations between Taiwan and the United
States had significant progress after [Taiwan's March 22
presidential] election?

"Undoubtedly, during the two months after Ma assumed office [on May
20], Ma has been setting cross-Strait relations as the first
priority. Latter on, [Ma] had to deal with the crisis resulted from
the collision between a Taiwan fishing boat and a Japanese frigate
over the waters surrounding the Tiaoyutai Islands. [Ma] takes the
United States for granted and does not regard it as a priority. The
communication between [the United States and Taiwan's] senior level
of officials has been relatively less.

"The Ma Administration claimed that the United States has been very
satisfied with the progress of cross-Strait relations. In other
words, [the Ma Administration] means that it has done better than
the previous [Chen Shui-bian] Administration. However, the United
States does not simply make judgment based upon the result after the
event. The United States wants to have full control over the whole
circumstance, including knowing what the cross-Strait issues are,
what the public and private channels are, whether there are any
extra private deals. If there is any omission [in aspects mentioned
above], the Untied States would start to suspect what Taiwan and
China have talked about clandestinely?

"The Ma Administration recently has noticed the United States'
concerns. [Taiwan's] National Security Council Deputy
Secretary-General Lee Hai-tung and [Taiwan's] Deputy Minister of
Foreign Affairs Andrew Hsia have gone to California to hold the
'Monterey Talks' with the United States. In the future, between a
higher level of officials [of both Taiwan and the United States], it
is possible to build a national security channel which is similar to
the 'talks between [Taiwan's former National Security Council
Secretary-General] Ting Mao-shih and [former White House Deputy
National Security Advisor] James B. Steinberg.' However, the
current [atmosphere] between Taiwan and the United States is not
quite as good as when the United States-Taiwan relations were at
their peak. ..."

C) "Why Do the United States and Japan Have a Crisis in Confidence
Regarding Ma?"

Lai I-chung, an executive committee member of the Taiwan Thinktank,
opined in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation:
400,000] (7/26):

"... The basic reasons that the Uited States and Japan changed
their attitudes toward Taiwan were because the two countries have
doubts regarding the Ma [Ying-jeou] Administration's diplomatic
strategy and the [administration's] clumsiness in handling the
diplomatic issues in terms of the tactics. First, in terms of the
handling [of the diplomatic issues], on the second day after Ma was
elected president, without having initial negotiation [with the
United States and Japan, Ma unilaterally announced that he would
like to visit the two countries. Secondly, the brash way in which
the Ma Administration left no room for compromise in handling the
Tiaoyutai issue, gave no consideration to the fact that the issue
affects Taiwan's subtle relations with the Treaty of Mutual
Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. The
Ma Administration's changeable attitude also set up new variables
during the negotiation [with Japan]. The arms procurement, an
indicator of the security and cooperation between Taiwan and the
United States, has become a mystery that Taiwan and the United
States accuse each other [for delaying the procurement]. Without
consultation with Japan, [the Ma Administration]'s release of
allegations regarding the candidate for Taiwan's representative to
Japan has put Tokyo in an awkward position. All of these incidents
have consumed the United States and Japan's trust on the Taiwan

"However, the most basic issue is that the United States and Japan
have doubts about Ma's international strategy. Ma considers that
the improvement of cross-Strait relations is in accordance with the
interests of the United States and Japan. However, the United
States and Japan would not necessarily agree with the argument that
cross-Strait relations and relations among Taiwan, the United

States, and Japan is a zero-sum game. Ma declared before he assumed
office that 'cross-Strait relations are far superior to foreign
affairs.' Then Minister-designate of Foreign Affairs [Francisco Ou]
even called for a 'diplomatic truce.' In response, United States
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has reminded Taiwan that 'the
relations between the United States and Taiwan have their own
independent aspects,' which was a hint to Ma that he should not use
cross-Strait relations to define the relations between the United
States and Taiwan. However, the following developments have made
many people on the United States side suddenly realize that
significant strategic changes had already taken place in Taiwan. In
the past, [Taiwan] regarded the security cooperation between the
United States and Taiwan as beneficial for Taiwan when dealing with
cross-Strait [relations]. However, nowadays, Taipei wanted the
United States to suspend announcing the arms sales to Taiwan before
[Taiwan's] Straits Exchange Foundation and [China's] Association for
Relations across the Taiwan Strait resumed negotiation [in June].
This means that the new [Ma] Administration considers the security
cooperation between the United States and Taiwan as a negative
factor, not a positive bargaining chip, in cross-Strait relations.

D) "If Only Paul Wolfwitz Is Right"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (7/26):

"But [World Bank President Paul] Wolfowitz's words also had the
flavor of a warning: Taiwan's security, now as then, hinges on the
regard in which Taiwan - or more precisely, its government - is held
by Congress and the US administration, and that this affection had
been tested in recent years by the Democratic Progressive Party
government. That affection is still there, though a combination of
US wars in the Middle East and the pro-China machinations of members
of the State Department and their academic networks, not to mention
the China lobby, tends to stifle this affection. That may all be
changing, judging from Wolfowitz's confidence (amid none-too-subtle
prodding) that the arms freeze conceded by US Admiral Timothy
Keating will be lifted, possibly before the end of the congressional
session in September, and hence before the next US president takes

"Amid gloomy forecasts by local defense analysts, there are
increasing reports of activity in and around Congress to deliver the
arms that the government agreed to so long ago. And yesterday's
comments by Jason Yuan, Taiwan's new envoy to Washington, that the
delivery of the arms is 'almost a done deal,' suggest that senior
KMT figures know more about maneuvering in Washington than it cares
to admit - right down to the visit to Taiwan of a top US figure in
the weeks to come. This is all well and good. If we can assume that
Yuan's comments are a reflection of the reality and not just bluster
from an envoy who seems not to know when to close his mouth, then
there is hope on the horizon that Taiwan will be able to lurch back
in the direction of keeping the Chinese military threat within its
capabilities. But if US President George W. Bush does not live up
to Wolfowitz's expectations and does not release the arms, then
these things will become crystal clear: the pro-China group in the
State Department will have triumphed, Taiwan's new envoy will have
been discredited even before arriving in the US and Taiwan's
security will be at the mercy of the US electoral process, giving
China even more time to tighten the screws."

E) "Cracks in U.S., Japan Ties"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (7/29):

"... A dramatic contrast to Washington's initial welcoming of Ma's
election was the Bush administration's pronouncement to freeze arms
sales to Taiwan. This gesture was especially odd because for eight
years the Bush administration has been urging Taipei to take more
responsibility for its own defense and to buy US$16 billion-worth of
American arms, including anti-missile systems, warplanes and
submarines. ... On July 16, Admiral Timothy Keating, chief of the
U.S. Pacific command, said Washington had instituted a freeze on new
arms sales to Taiwan. However, the next day in Taipei, President
Ma's spokesman reiterated Taipei's traditional need of U.S. arms for
self defense. In response, State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack said on July 18 that the U.S. policy on supplying arms to
Taiwan remained unchanged. The U.S. is Taiwan's main arms supplier,
and even though ties between Taipei and Beijing have warmed since
Ma's inauguration in May, the island has yet to regard the communist
mainland as a neighbor of peace. Despite increased economic,
cultural and social interchanges, Taipei and Beijing remain deeply
suspicious of each. ... The U.S., Japan, Singapore and all other
democracies in the world may be pro-Taiwan at heart, but they are
not so in deed."


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN News: Monkeypox Outbreak Can Still Be Contained, Insists UN Health Agency
The monkeypox outbreak that has been reported in 16 countries and several regions of the world can still be contained and the overall risk of transmission is low, the UN health agency said on Tuesday...

UN: “COVID-19 Is Not Over”, Tedros Warns World Health Assembly
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) told global health Ministers on Sunday that although reported COVID-19 cases and deaths have declined significantly, it is not time to lower the guard... More>>

UN: Bachelet Calls On Mexico To Step Up Efforts As Tragic Milestone Reached Of More Than 100,000 Disappearances

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday called on the Mexican authorities to step up efforts to ensure truth and justice for victims of disappearances, who now number more than 100,000, according to official data... More>>

Access Now: Elon Musk’s Twitter Buyout Must Not Come At The Expense Of Human Rights

Following today’s announcement that Elon Musk will acquire complete ownership of Twitter in a cash sale of around 44 billion USD, pending shareholder approval, Access Now urges Twitter’s Board, employees, and shareholders... More>>

UN: Biodiversity And Ecosystem Protection Highlighted On Mother Earth Day

Marking International Mother Earth Day, UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid urged on Friday, for collective action to safeguard biodiversity and protect ecosystems... More>>

Ukraine: Hundreds More Reach Safety After Fleeing Besieged Mariupol
In Ukraine, humanitarians said on Wednesday that hundreds of people have managed to reach safety after fleeing Mariupol, where there’s also been condemnation for the killing of Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius... More>>