Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #1311/01 2470934
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030934Z SEP 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9882
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8575
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0021
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001311
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.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies gave significant
reporting September 3 to former Ministry of Justice Investigation
Bureau Director Yeh Sheng-mao, who admitted Tuesday that twice he
had informed or handed over documents from the Egmont Group to
former President Chen Shui-bian concerning a probe into Chen's
overseas bank accounts. News coverage also focused on President Ma
Ying-jeou's diplomatic truce policy and Taiwan's UN bid. In terms
of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" criticized President Ma's "unfathomable" national
defense policy and concluded that actual military strength is far
more important than a goodwill gesture, if both sides of the Taiwan
Strait are to move towards peace. An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" discussed the U.S.
presidential campaigns and said the Taiwan issue has not only been
marginalized in Washington's foreign policy establishment but has
also not received much attention in both the Democratic and
Republican presidential candidates' campaigns so far. The editorial
urged both the KMT and the DPP to work harder and explore ways to
make the new U.S. administration achieve policy that are also in
Taiwan's interest. End summary.
A) "Actual Strength Is Far More Important Than Goodwill"
The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
"Having been in office for a hundred days, Ma Ying-jeou's national
defense policy still remains in a thick fog and unfathomable. Ma
hopes to achieve a truce between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,
but then he said truce requires willingness from both sides and that
Taiwan will have to return immediately to a proactive state of being
ready to go to war if China shows no intention of [keeping a] truce.
... It is a well-acknowledged fact that there is a big gap between
Taiwan's military strength and that of China's. The United States'
white paper on the military strengths of both sides of the Taiwan
Strait and Taiwan's Han Guang military exercises have all well
indicated that Taiwan will collapse at the first blow under full
attacks launched by China. Under such circumstances, Taiwan's
unilateral advocacy of stopping war, [seeking a] truce and its
self-limitations on armament will not only be an unwise move but
also show some sense of capitulationism.
"It takes more than a goodwill gesture for both sides of the Taiwan
Strait to move towards peace. What is required is actual strength.
If Taiwan lacks the deterrent weapons that are sufficient enough to
threaten essential areas in China, it will, under in the penumbra of
the 1000 missiles deployed by China, either surrender to Beijing or
seek to take advantage of having the United States help us build up
our military strength and enjoy U.S. protection for free.
Washington's recent moves in forcing Taiwan to buy weapons were akin
to telling Taiwan clearly that it should abandon the fond dream of a
free lunch. ..."
B) "U.S. Presidential Poll and Taiwan's Hopes"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (9/3):
"... Naturally, both the governing Chinese Nationalist Party
(Kuomintang) government and the opposition Democratic Progressive
Party have been working to build links with key foreign policy
advisers in each camp by attending each convention. Moreover,
President Ma Ying-jeou himself held telephone conversations with
figures from each camp during last month's transit stops through Los
Angeles and San Francisco, while DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen will
refresh her bipartisan contacts during her visit to Washington this
week. Since Taiwan has been relatively marginalized in the
Washington foreign policy establishment in the wake of the rise in
the military, economic and diplomatic clout of the People's Republic
of China, such direct contacts are vital opportunities to clarify
the likely international policy directions of the new U.S.
administration on matters of concern to Taiwan, including global
climatic change, world and regional peace and security, fair global
trade and the promotion of democracy and freedom.
"Since the campaign is centering on domestic issues such as economic
rejuvenation and the main item on the foreign policy agenda is how
to deal with Bush's illegal war in Iraq, neither Obama or McCain
have devoted much public attention to discussing new concrete
substantive initiatives in future relations between the U.S. and the
PRC besides expressing support for the Taiwan Relations Act and the
overall thrust of the U.S. consensus "engagement" policy that aims
to incorporate the Chinese Communist Party-ruled PRC into the world
community as a 'responsible stakeholder.' ... Since it is open to
question whether Obama or McCain will challenge Bush's pattern of
high-level 'dialogue' with the PRC leadership, it is evident that
Taiwan faces an uphill task in rebuilding positive ties with the new
occupants of the White House. Representatives of both the governing
KMT and the opposition DPP will explore in future months how Taiwan
can assist the new U.S. administration achieve policy goals that are
also in our interest, such as actively joining the fight against
global warming and getting out of the Iraqi morass.
"In addition, we believe that the DPP, as Taiwan's grassroots
democratic party, should also urge both presidential camps to
reaffirm the importance of Taiwan's vibrant democracy and to return
to the position adopted by former U.S. president Bill Clinton on
February 24, 2000, just before the March 2004 Taiwan presidential
election and dropped by Bush, that the issues between Beijing and
Taiwan 'must be resolved peacefully and with the assent of the
people of Taiwan.' Such a reaffirmation is crucial to ensure that
the new U.S. administration does not follow Bush's practice of
acting as a willing intermediary for PRC pressure on Taiwan's
democracy and autonomy and to brake any moves by the KMT government
to unilaterally relinquish Taiwan's sovereignty to Beijing without
the explicit assent of the 23 million Taiwan people."