Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Presidential Election,
DE RUEHIN #1587/01 3150932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100932Z NOV 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0326
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8724
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0171
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001587
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. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION,
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage November 8-10 on students' sit-in campaign in protest of
the police's excessive use of force against demonstrators during the
Taiwan visit of China's Association for Relations across the Taiwan
Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin, and on the controversy over the
protests led by the DPP during Chen Yunlin's stay in Taiwan.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" hailed Barack Obama's election as the
President of the United States. The column said, however, that
Obama has daunting challenges to face. An editorial in the
pro-unification "United Daily News" harshly criticized United States
President George W. Bush's legacy of the last eight years in the
light of Barack Obama's election. With respect to the
U.S.-China-Taiwan relations, an editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" expressed concern over the future
cross-Strait and China policies of the Democratic Administration in
the United State and the likely impact on Taiwan. An op-ed in the
"Taipei Times" projected several possible scenarios across the
Taiwan Strait with deep worries and expressed hope that the United
States would help preserve Taiwan's freedom. End summary.
3. U.S. Presidential Election
A) "The Black People Have Stood Up"
Columnist Antonio Chiang wrote in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 520,000] (11/10):
"[Barack] Obama's story represents the journey of mankind's pursuit
of freedom and equality. The whole world felt indescribable
excitement about his [Obama's] election. This is not [just] a story
of the United States; instead, it is a story of mankind. However,
in the real world, disappointment can be higher when expectation is
high. Obama is no exception. ...
"The impact that Obama brings internationally will be bigger than
domestically in the United States. It is because, in the real
world, it is far more difficult to accomplish things in domestic
politics than in international politics. ...
"What is advantageous to him [Obama] is that Iranian President
[Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] and the terrorist group Al-Qaeda both have
expectations of him and sent congratulatory messages to him after he
was elected. It will be Obama's great achievement if the Islamic
world changes its views of the Untied States.
"The black people's standing up is an indescribable encouragement to
all underprivileged groups and minority races in the world who have
dreamed of standing up. Obama has become a hero who changed
history. However, there have been many heroes who have become
cowards in a short time. Obama's real challenges have not yet
B) "How a President Sank into the Ashes of History"
The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
"Obama's election as the President of the United States brought
jubilation to almost the entire world. The loneliest shadow
offstage is not [that of] John McCain, who lost the election, but
[of George W.] Bush, who is counting down and packing up in the
White House. Being in power for eight years, this cowboy head of
state who was highly controversial left a poor legacy for himself;
left all-red deficits for the United States economy; left his own
party defeated; left his people with loss of confidence and of pride
in being Americans; and left the people of the world with doubts,
even cursing the United States. ...
"At an interval of only four years, the same group of people who
voted for Bush instead voted for a black President, Obama. This is
the phenomenon where things develop in the opposite direction when
they become extreme. If [we] want to talk about what contribution
Bush made to the United States, this [opposite reaction] might be
counted as one. That is, after the sufferings of his [Bush's] eight
years' of failure in governance, the ideas, including democracy,
tolerance and honesty, that the American people have firmly held,
finally breached the barrier of skin color."
4. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
A) "Obama, His Aides and Taiwan's Future"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (11/8):
"US president-elect Barack Obama completed his victory on Tuesday
night with a speech as stirring as it was carefully worded. It
would come as no surprise if his fine words moved as many people of
other nations as the people of his own. ...
"But the mechanics of Obama's foreign policy are yet to be
"Worse, the words and actions to date of Obama's aides with
responsibilities for Taiwan and China sit very awkwardly - if not
contradict outright - the inspiration and principles in his speech
on Tuesday night.
"The extent to which this situation should worry Taiwanese is
limited by military and diplomatic reality in the Asia-Pacific
region. The received wisdom among hawks and doves alike is that US
policy on Taiwan over the last 30 years has been remarkably stable
and consistent, though under President George W. Bush there has been
a subtle but unnerving change from 'acknowledging' to supporting
China's claim to Taiwan.
"Concerns that a Democratic Congress would erode Taiwanese interests
may also be overstated given the marginal role it plays in executive
"To the incoming Obama administration, Taiwan's fate will likely
fall under the radar for some time, and predicted overtures by
Washington to Beijing could extend this period of superficial peace
for as long as Zhongnanhai can behave itself.
"China's agenda, however, requires this stability to end at the very
moment that its strategy of coaxing Taiwan and offering economic
"This moment is inevitable; the question is whether Obama will be
prepared for it should it happen under [sic] his watch.
"Supporters of Taiwanese democracy must have listened to Obama's
invocation of Abraham Lincoln with a mixture of admiration and
wistfulness. Based on the evidence available, despite the warning
signs from China and pro-China forces in Taiwan, and despite all the
energy that hope can generate, no one can really say if an Obama
administration would act to stop a Taiwanese government of the
people, by the people and for the people from perishing."
B) "Ma Is Handing Taiwan to China"
Li Thian-hok, a freelance commentator based in Pennsylvania, opined
in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (11/10):
"Taiwan's crisis is that it may fall under Chinese Communist Party
rule by 2012, the year both President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese
President Hu Jintao's terms of office end. ...
"Ma has claimed that the Taiwanese may enjoy 20 to 30 years of peace
under a peace accord. In reality the CCP can always violate the
terms of the accord and decide to occupy the nation in short order.
"Once the accord is executed, the US' Taiwan Relations Act (TRA)
will automatically be abrogated, since Taiwan will formally become a
part of the PRC, and the US and the Taiwanese will not have a chance
to object through a referendum, since the current referendum law is
designed to prevent a bona fide referendum. ...
"The Taiwanese-American community needs to monitor the evolving
situation in Taiwan and help pro-democracy activists in the
frontline of the struggle. We should keep the US informed of the
rapidly developing crisis in Taiwan and ask Washington to help
preserve Taiwan's freedom in accordance with the spirit of the TRA.
At the very least, the US should take measures to prevent a
holocaust from taking place on Taiwan."