Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations, Cross-Strait


DE RUEHIN #1616/01 3220917
R 170917Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused
November 15-17 news coverage on former President Chen Shui-bian, who
was taken to hospital Sunday evening after having been on a hunger
strike since he was detained last Wednesday; on the prosecutors'
questioning of Chen's family members over the weekend in the course
of the probe into the former first family's alleged money
laundering; on students staging sit-ins in Taipei demanding that the
government amend the Assembly and Parade Law; and on the G20 summit.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" urged the incoming
Obama Administration to examine seriously the current rapprochement
between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party and "take note of
its downside risk in the erosion of Taiwan's democracy and hard-won
human rights and civic freedom." An op-ed piece in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" discussed Barack
Obama's victory and said it is "likely to be a more conventional
transfer of power than some might think, though it will encourage
and inspire people everywhere." A separate "Taipei Times" op-ed
discussed the chaos occurred during China's Association for
Relations across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin's visit to
Taiwan two weeks ago and said "Taiwan lost a lot of dignity for the
sake of one or two days of excitement." End summary.

3. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

A) "Obama Must Note Taiwan's Crisis"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (11/17):

"The imminent inauguration of a new Democratic administration in the
United States under president-elect Senator Barack Obama has fuelled
both hopes and concern in Taiwan over Washington's future policy
toward East Asian and cross-strait affairs, including Taiwan's
present and future. ... Concern over Obama's future policy is
rooted in the widespread belief that the right-wing Republican Party
is more sympathetic toward Taiwan than the centrist Democratic
Party, an impression based mainly on the shared anathema against the
Chinese Communist Party ruled "Red China" between the Republican
Party and the authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang)
during the Cold War. Nevertheless, it was the fiercely
anti-communist late Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald
Reagan who set the stage for Washington's recognition of the PRC in
January 1979 and George W. Bush who cooperated with Beijing's
high-pressure campaign against the Taiwan-centric Democratic
Progressive Party government. ...

"Instead of following his predecessor's narrow path, we hope Obama
can review current dynamics and inject more new strategic thinking
into their current China-centric policy orientation that
incorporates the value of a democratic Taiwan to the world
community. ... Indeed, Ma's victory in the March 22 presidential
poll was largely the result of a policy of 'regime change' in Taiwan
adopted to appease Beijing by the Bush administration, which
repeatedly acted to de-legitimize the DPP's efforts to introduce
direct democracy methods to improve governance and civic
participation as well as bolster Taiwan-centric citizenship
identity. In the wake of this 'regime change,' the Taiwan people
have witnessed a series of unilateral moves by the KMT that
constitute less a genuine cross-strait 'rapprochement' than the
formation of a 'community of interest' between the
quasi-authoritarian KMT and the authoritarian CCP.

"The KMT government's dismissal of opposition oversight and the
sharp rise in dissatisfaction by an excluded citizenry, the blatant
trampling on civic freedom in the overblown security blanket thrown
around PRC envoy Chen Yunlin earlier this month and the repeated
violations of due process in the recent series of detentions and
indictments of DPP leaders are signs of a grave rollback in Taiwan
democracy and human rights. ... We hope the upcoming Obama
administration and those who will take charge of its East Asian
policy will engage in a serious re-examination of the actual content
of the current "rapprochement" between the KMT and CCP and take note
of its downside risk in the erosion of Taiwan's democracy and
hard-won human rights and civic freedom."

B) "Less Change in the US Than Some Might Say"

Chang Chi-yu, an associate professor at the Department of Applied
English of Ming Chuan University, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (11/15):

"... An array of stories and events associated with the Obama frenzy
begs the question: Will the US change? To be more specific, will it
change into a more humble power? An unspoken corollary of this
question deserves clarification. It is based on the assumption that

Obama as president, with an ethnic minority background, will tend to
be more empathetic toward other states. Partly because of growing
economic problems, the new government may not be as unilaterally
tough as previous administrations when dealing with issues like
nuclear weapons and terrorism that have long haunted the nation.
However, the corollary doesn't hold if placed against the national
interest and US history. The following philosophy remains deeply
rooted in the American mindset and prevalent throughout the world:
If nuclear weapons are secured by those with evil tendencies, then
that is a threat to the US and the whole world. ...

"Obama's succession is likely to be a more conventional transfer of
power than some might think, though it will encourage and inspire
people everywhere. Because belief in change is widespread and
because there is considerable scope for change, many can't wait to
see the degree to which a nation in ethnic and political flux will
transform itself. But one thing will never change: America is more
humble, in its own way, though not in a way that suggests cowardice
or weakness. That has nothing to do with whether the president is
black or white."

4. Cross-Strait Relations

"Uproar over Visit a Loss for Taiwan"

Chang Teng-chi, an associate professor at the Institute of Strategic
and International Affairs Studies of National Chung Cheng
University, opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" [circulation: 30,000] (11/17):

"... Another factor to consider is the ongoing effort of the US,
China and Japan to seek detente, and the worldwide wave of support
for US president-elect Barack Obama, motivated as it is by the
desire for peace. In this context, international media expressed
hopes for a successful SEF-ARATS meeting. Zhang and Chen's visits
were viewed as a matter of international relations, which in itself
was a good thing for Taiwan's dignity. In the event, however,
international media reported how Zhang was "knocked to the ground."
The treatment meted out to Zhang tarnished the image of Taiwan's
democracy and conversely served to highlight Beijing's soft
offensive strategy. How did we miss these opportunities and where
did we go wrong? The DPP must bear a considerable part of the

"Taiwan is an island society that has been colonized in turn by
several powers and whose economy depends heavily on foreign trade.
It must step warily among the sometimes clashing titans of Europe,
the US, Japan and China. China, for its part, has long since
infiltrated Taiwan's commercial sector and its ruling and opposition
political forces, and it knows how to use its connections. When in
government, the DPP was only willing or able to passively 'manage'
the situation. Its dream of blockading China was a non-starter, and
it let slip the opportunity of using Taiwan's 'pro-localization'
forces to win concessions from China. Instead, the DPP became all
the more dependent on its habit of using Chinese repression to
garner dignity and actively seeking out such repression for the sake
of winning sympathy votes. ...

"While China is full of confidence in its hard power, when it comes
to soft power, its boasting cannot conceal its weaknesses. Taiwan
could put its own strong points to the best advantage by opening a
psychological counteroffensive and engaging in peaceful rivalry with
China on such issues as food safety, welfare, charity, democracy and
plurality. Such a strategy would gain the support of disparate
forces within Taiwan and help it maintain a dynamic equilibrium with
the US, China and Japan. This is the only way to prevent Taiwan's
identity and the sovereignty of the ROC from being destroyed by
internal strife, and it is the only way to win back the dignity that
has been lost."


© Scoop Media

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