Cablegate: Media Reaction: The Beijing Olympic Games; President Bush's
DE RUEHIN #1189/01 2240946
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110946Z AUG 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9723
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8524
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9732
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001189
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: THE BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES; PRESIDENT BUSH'S
VISIT IN ASIA; U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused August
9-11 news coverage on the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic
Games; on weightlifter Chen Wei-ling winning Taiwan's first medal in
the Olympics; and on the conflict in South Ossetia. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, a column in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" criticized the grand opening ceremony of the Beijing
Olympic Games, saying calling it a failure that sacrificed
individualism and did not touch people's souls at all. An op-ed in
the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" offered several reflections
from the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, including linking
the implications between the Olympics and the conflict in South
Ossetia. The op-ed also implied that DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen's
analogy of the Beijing Olympic Games to the 1936 Games hosted by
Nazi Germany does not make sense. Both the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" and pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News" criticized United States President
George W. Bush's attendance at the Beijing Olympic Games for
ignoring China's poor records in human rights. An op-ed in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" warned both
Washington and Taipei to be aware of the threat of China's
developing missile capability with respect to its 'areal denial'
strategy in the Taiwan Strait. End summary.
2. The Beijing Olympic Games
A) "A Reflection from the Chinese Netizens' Scolding: A 'Failed'
Cao Changqing, an independent commentator, wrote in his column in
the pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000] (8/11):
"The Chinese government used up all its resources to present the
Olympic Games opening ceremony to the whole world in a style of
'grandiosity, spectacular fireworks, big colors, big groups, and
extravagancy.' The opening nevertheless was a 'big failure' and was
criticized by Chinese netizens. [The opening] was regarded by
[Chinese netizens] as an 'upgraded version of North Korean big
group-dancing: a big scene with empty content; human waves tactics
without humanity!'... [The opening]...squandered money to create
the most garish Olympics in history. ...
"It was really because [Beijing Olympics opening ceremony director]
Zhang Yimou's main thought was to propagandize [China's] state and
national pride rather than the Olympic spirit. Therefore, no matter
how many people Zhang mobilized and the lighting, color and digital
techniques he used to present orderly squares and shouts just like
operating robots, [Zhang] was not able to fill the opening ceremony
with the soul, which is the spirit of human beings' freedom. ..."
B) "The Post-Colonial Beijing Olympic Games"
Chang Teng-chi, an assistant professor at the Institute of Strategy
and International Affairs at National Chung Cheng University, opined
in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
"The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics was held smoothly. At
the juncture that Chinese netizens commented on [Beijing Olympics
opening ceremony director] Zhang Yimou's success and failures, and
Taiwan opposition leader [DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen]'s
condemnation that the Beijing Olympics are tantamount to the Nazis'
[Games in 1936], a war with serious impact on the international
order, despite receiving little media attention is developing: a
conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia. Although Pro-Russia
Ossetia's insistence to split from Georgia and wish to declare
independence is the fuse, the United States' clandestine support to
pro-U.S. Georgia and Russia's firm resistance to the United States'
influence in the Caucasian region is the most dangerous factor.
Nevertheless, the Untied States' global tasks are so complicated and
the Caucasian region is so far away. It is unlikely that [the
United States] would help Georgia to resist [South Ossetia's wish
to] independence and promote unification.
"The apocalypse of the South Ossetia War can not be clearer: the
Olympic Games are only a stage for countries (maybe including South
Korea) to confirm their international status and to promote
multinational capitalism. At the most, several dramatic stories are
heard occasionally, in which medium-sized or small countries'
sportsmen have outstanding performances. 'Modern' Olympics are no
more advanced than the 'ancient' [Olympics]. Slavery, famine,
competition among big countries, wars and the Olympics happen at the
same time. From the perspective of international politics, [the
Olympic Games] are not worth too much expectation. ...
"The reson for [DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen] to make an analogy
that the Beijing Olympic Games are tantamount to the Nazis' Olympics
[in 1936] is simply based on her worry that the Taiwan people will
become Jews in China's eyes and suffer from China's oppression, or
VISIT IN ASIA; U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
become the Czechoslovakia that was betrayed at Munich. And,
[Chinese President] Hu Jintao would be the Nazi leader who wanted to
pretend that everything was going well.....China is not like the
Germany of that time which was strong enough to be the leader of
Euroasia. [United States President George W.] Bush not only does
not pursue isolationism, but also went to Beijing to attend a
religious service. [Chinese President] Hu [Jintao] and [Chinese
Premier] Wen [Jiabao] do not enjoy the uniquely-revered status that
the Nazi leader did at that time. ..."
3. President Bush's Visit in Asia
A) "Bush's Pat on the Back"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (8/9):
"Bush's lecture, in fact, is not new. It's like harping on the old
tune. It's interesting to note that Bush chose to make the speech
public in Thailand instead of China. Obviously, he did not want to
offend his host and spoil the fun he and his family are going to
have in Beijing. He said earlier in Seoul that he did not believe
the Olympics should be used as an occasion to criticize the host
"The speech was a slap on the wrist, not in the face. Ever since
President Bush decided to attend the Beijing Games last year, he has
been under mounting pressure from critics at home and human rights
activists abroad who urged him to boycott the games. He has to
respond to his critics.
"The fact is, Bush's attendance lends much prestige and
respectability to Beijing. All the protests that have plagued the
organizers of the games will be made irrelevant by Bush's appearance
- a pat on the back of Beijing from the world's most powerful
"In politics, what's important is what you do, not what you say.
Bush's rhetoric doesn't mean very much compared to what he is doing.
No wonder that Beijing's foreign ministry did not take President
Bush's speech seriously, saying perfunctorily that human rights are
China's internal affairs. ...
"President Hu Jintao should be extremely gratified by Bush's
presence, and pretend he didn't hear anything. Now is party time,
to smile and to have fun, not to let nasty politics ruin the
auspicious occasion. It is certainly inappropriate for Bush to boo
the debutante at her coming out party. ..."
B) "End of Olympics Test for 'Responsible PRC"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (8/11):
"... Nevertheless, the efforts by PRC leaders to downplay both the
impact of controversy over the 'Genocide Olympics' and natural
disasters brought in a rich political harvest as heads-of-state or
national leaders from over 100 countries, including United States
President George W. Bush, gathered in Beijing for the historical
"Bush's statement reflected the US strategy of 'con-gaging' China
(containment and engagement in tandem) to bring the Beijing regime
into the international framework and incrementally transform China
into a politically democratic and economically liberal country while
simultaneously allowing PRC leaders shoulder the responsibility of
being a great power.
"However, questions abound over this approach, including doubts
whether PRC leaders will transform their authoritarian part - state
into a more democratic and peaceful power in line with such
expectations and whether Beijing will act as a responsible emerging
power in international society, especially after the Olympics.
"Indeed, if a successful Beijing Olympics only makes a rising PRC
more arrogant and expansionist and even less likely to respect
universal values of democracy and human rights, then all major power
will have to shoulder the consequence that they created.
"Unfortunately, unwillingness of Bush or other world 'democratic'
leaders to miss out on Friday's authoritarian extravaganza and the
blanket endorsement shown to Hu and the CCP leadership by their
attendance sent contradictory message, namely that the expressed
concern for 'human rights' and 'peace' are merely words in the face
of the dictum that 'might is right.' ...
"Bush appears to be joining President Ma Ying-jeou in a tacit gamble
that 'peace' in the Taiwan Strait can be maintained if Taiwan stops
VISIT IN ASIA; U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
striving for self-determination, but the next U.S. president as well
as the Taiwan people will pay the price if their bet loses.
"Instead, we believe the United States and the rest of the world
democratic community will ultimately be faced with their
responsibility to make more substantial efforts to promote the
opening of China's political system so promote room for the Chinese
people to strive for democratization and to cease sacrificing
Taiwan's democracy and autonomy to the false god of appeasement."
4. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
"Beijing's New Missiles Go Too Far"
Stan Chiueh, an assistant coordinator for programs at the Institute
of National Policy Research in Taipei, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
"... A successful 'area denial' strategy based on these new missiles
would play a key role of denying the US the ability to prevent
attacks on Taiwan. ...
"The US, for its part, has imposed an unofficial arms sale freeze on
Taiwan, at least until after the Olympics.
"While US President George W. Bush and the State Department have
been largely silent on the issue, their silence speaks volumes about
the changing US relationship with China compared with Bush's
previous statements that he would do 'whatever it takes' to protect
Taiwan from aggression by China.
"Beijing, on the other hand, has treated the US and Taiwan's efforts
toward a diplomatic thaw not as gestures of goodwill deserving of
reciprocation, but as their responsibilities to 'honor' commitments
made to China. ...
"Taking these various factors into consideration, it is evident that
the latest round of missile deployment is yet another disturbing
development in China's efforts to ever more successfully challenge
the US over Taiwan. It is important for policymakers in Washington
and Taipei to recognize the potential threats arising from China's
advancing area-denial capabilities and preempt it by demanding that
measures be taken to reduce the military build-up as a condition for