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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Beijing Olympics

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1151/01 2190730
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060730Z AUG 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9676
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8504
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9720

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001151

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: BEIJING OLYMPICS

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused August 6
news coverage on Taitung County Magistrate Kuang Li-chen, who was
quizzed by prosecutors Tuesday for being away on a trip to Europe
while her county was being pounded by a major typhoon last week; on
Taiwan's surging consumer price index in July; and on the Olympic
Games in Beijing. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column
in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed the reasons
behind U.S. President George W. Bush's desire to go to Beijing
Olympics. The article concluded by saying that "Bush has finally
discovered that the most appropriate thing to do is to build mutual
trust with the Chinese leaders." An editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" commented on the
Beijing Olympics and said "it looks as though China is again missing
a great opportunity to move closer to the commonwealth of democratic
nations." End summary.

A) "The Real Reasons behind [U.S. President] Bush's Enthusiasm about
the Beijing Olympics"

The "International Lookout" column in the centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times" [circulation: 200,000] (8/6):

"Regarding U.S. President George W. Bush's trip to the Far East this
time, his visits to South Korea and Thailand are just something he
do on the way, while his [real] goal is to participate in the
Beijing Olympics. ... John McCain is gravely concerned that if any
dispute occurs between Bush and China, it will generate a negative
impact on future Sino-U.S. relations if McCain is elected president.
Judging from this perspective, it is obvious that no matter whether
it is a Republican or a Democrat that takes the helm of the United
States in the near future, he will keep walking the path laid by
Bush.

"When assuming his position in the very beginning, President Bush
had absolutely no idea that his China policy would turn out to be
like this. But reality has forced him to pick the road of
compromise. When the Republican neoconservatism led by Vice
President Dick Cheney gradually subsided, the Bush's new team,
acting on his own discretion, [started to] alleviate the United
States' relations with China. Not only did Bush personally resolve
and mitigate the tension caused by the Taiwan issue, but former
Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick also invited Beijing to
play a more active role in the international community by defining
China as a [responsible] stakeholder. In addition, Treasury
Secretary Henry Paulson stopped Congress from making moves that
would exacerbate trade disputes [with China]; and Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice's reliance on China in terms of [preventing]
nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula and U.S.-China
cooperation in fighting terrorism have both helped to create a new
common ground of interests for the two countries.

"Bush has paved the way for the next U.S. president to engage with
Beijing, and this will probably be his diplomatic legacy left behind
after his eight year term in office. It is just like what former
National Security Council Senior Director for Asian affairs Kenneth
Lieberthal of the Clinton administration said: 'Bush has left
behind him a generally sound U.S.-China relationship.' Bush has
finally discovered that the most appropriate thing to do was to
build mutual trust with the Chinese leaders -- perhaps a result of
his father's influence. ..."

B) "Missed Olympic Opportunities?"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (8/6):

"... China's goal is to showcase itself as a proud, strong, modern

nation, ready to become a global leader, but by overdoing the
security factor, Beijing may be shooting itself in the foot. Heavy
security would, of course, be the norm anywhere an Olympics is
hosted, but Beijing has perhaps gone overboard. ... The Beijing
Olympics will undoubtedly leave some positive legacies including
cleaner air and greater international awareness, but it seems a
shame that authorities in Beijing are not making more of their
Olympic opportunity. After the May 12th earthquake in Sichuan, the
world seemed to give China a pass on its crackdown of dissent in
Tibet and Xinjiang. But hopes that such goodwill would move China
to re-examine its totalitarian practices seem to have been
misplaced.

"When China was awarded the Summer Olympics after an exhaustive
ballot in 2001, some commentators held out hope that the games could
be a catalyst for change, much like the way the 1988 Summer Games in
Seoul helped move South Korea away from a military-led dictatorship.
While it's much too early to see if the Olympics will spur China
towards greater reform, unfortunately, it looks as though China is
again missing a great opportunity to move closer to the commonwealth
of democratic nations."


YOUNG

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