Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan,


DE RUEHIN #1438/01 2792256
R 052256Z OCT 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage October 3 on a order by Taiwan's Department of Health
Thursday to remove from shelves more dairy products from China that
were found to be contaminated with melamine; on the U.S. Senate's
approval of a revised US$700 billion bailout bill Thursday; and on
the probe into the alleged money-laundering case involving former
President Chen Shui-bian. The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times"
in the meantime, ran a banner headline one page thirteen reading
"U.S. Media: Arms Sales to Taiwan to Be Sent to Congress Today."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" said that Washington froze its arms
sales in order to punish Taiwan for the news leak of the "two noes"
(remarks that "Liberty Times" said AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt
made in late August, which the State Department has since refuted),
which was viewed by Washington as a heinous move to sow discord
between Washington and Beijing. An op-ed in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" said that, given the Ma Ying-jeou Administration's
pro-China practices, it seems natural that Washington would distrust
Taipei and reject its arms sales to Taiwan. An op-ed in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times," written by a
Western commentator, called on the new U.S. administration, whether
it be led by Obama or McCain, to send a clear signal to China
asserting that "it will help defend Taiwan in case of a Chinese
threat or attack." End summary.

3. U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

A) "The United States Freezes Arms Sales to Punish Taiwan for Sowing
Discord [between China and the United States]"

Dr. Emerson Chang, Director of Nan Hua University's Department of
International Studies, opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 520,000] (10/3):

"... Even though the Ma Administration has conveyed via many
political VIPs its determination to purchase weapons from the United
States, what really makes Washington take to heart is perhaps the
news leak of the 'two noes.' It is likely that the authorities at
the State Department felt that they had been betrayed by Taiwan, and
they believe that it is a heinous crime to sow discord between China
and the United States, so they decided to retaliate by freezing arms
deals [to Taiwan]. The Pentagon may not be aware of what was going
on, so as it stands, the Pentagon is enthusiastic about the arms
sales, while the State Department has decided to put it on hold.

"Should this be the case, the Ma Administration must justify the
news leak to the United States if it wants to secure the arms deals
before President Bush steps down. Judging from the remarks given by
high-ranking State Department officials lately, Washington seems to
be expecting [Taipei's action] and has yet to block entirely the
possibility of arms sales. Of course the Ma Administration can
ignore [Washington's expectations] and quietly wait for the change
of administration in the United States. If so, perhaps Taipei
should no longer keep any hope for the [approval of the] arms

B) "National Security Should Take Priority over Blue and Green"

Yeh Chih-chien, a student at Tamkang University's Graduate Institute
of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, opined in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 700,000] (10/3):

"Just think that in late 2006 the United States had many times sent
AIT Taipei Director Stephen Young to lobby Taiwan in the hope to
facilitate the arms deals between the United States and Taiwan. But
what happened lately was that the arms procurements proposal had
been sent to the White House, and the White House has failed to
approve it. Is it really because of the incompetence of the
[former] DPP administration, as claimed by the Ma Administration,
which has resulted in the zero mutual trust between Taipei and

"The Ma Administration should ponder whether its own policy and
practice have seriously violated the mutual and common interests
between the United States and Taiwan. Previously, Washington had
been proactive in providing national defense weapons to Taiwan in an
attempt to integrate Taiwan into the Pacific line of defense of the
U.S. military. But given that the recent practice of the Ma
Administration seems to demonstrate that it intends to proclaim
allegiance to China, [Washington might think that] its strategic
interests will eventually be ruined in the Taiwan Strait if Taiwan
suddenly decides to cooperate or unify with China. Washington, as a
result, will surely distrust Taiwan, and it thus seems reasonable
for it to reject the arms sales to Taiwan. ..."

4. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

"US Must Send China a Clear Signal"

Gerrit van der Wees, editor of Washington-based "Taiwan Communiqu,"
opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (10/3):

"... The Bush administration compounded its mistakes last year and
this year when it launched a veritable campaign against Taiwan's UN
referendum - which was held concurrent with the presidential
election in March - even with people like Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice expressing "opposition" to the referendum. What
went wrong? For one thing, the US was preoccupied by Iraq and
Afghanistan and let itself believe that it needed to accommodate
China to resolve a number of other fires burning in the world: North
Korea, Tibet, Burma, Iran, Sudan and Zimbabwe. China was able to
capitalize on the US' desire to put out these fires, but at the same
time kept them burning in order to gain more concessions from the

"The Bush administration thus let itself be used by China to
undermine democracy in Taiwan and put the future of the country in
question. What is needed from a new US administration - whether it
is led by Obama or his Republican rival John McCain - is a clear
signal by the US that it will help defend Taiwan in the case of a
Chinese threat or attack. This is in the spirit of the Taiwan
Relations Act, and we should stick to it. We also need to emphasize
the right of Taiwan to be a full and equal member in the
international community. Any talk about only support for
participation in organizations "that do not require statehood"
undermines Taiwan's position and is not befitting the US - a nation
that portrays itself as the leader of the democratic world. Both
Taiwan and Georgia are examples of countries that have achieved
democracy against great odds. If the US wants to expand democracy in
the world, it needs to work harder to get these democracies into the
mainstream of the international community. At the same time, it
needs to convince the large - and less-than-democratic - neighbors
that peace and stability can only be achieved if they let their
small neighbors next door live and prosper in peace."


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