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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Human Rights in Taiwan, Chinese Military


DE RUEHIN #1667/01 3330807
R 280807Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage November 27-28 on the economic difficulties that Taiwan
need to deal with now; on the former first family's corruption
scandals; on the political confrontation in Thailand; and on the
Mumbai attacks.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" lambasted the Ma Ying-jeou
Administration's recent handling of various judicial cases and the
administration's "cold response" to domestic calls to amend the
Parade and Assembly Law. The editorial was worried that the
administration is implementing the KMT's old practice of
authoritarian rule. The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan
News" had editorials two days in a row expressing concern about the
alleged deterioration of human rights in Taiwan after the Ma
Administration took office in May. With respect to China's military
development, an op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language
"Taipei Times" urged the United States and Taiwan not to
underestimate China's real intentions behind its plans for aircraft
carriers. The op-ed also urged the United States to review the
decision to hold up the sale of eight submarines to Taiwan. End

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3. Human Rights in Taiwan

A) "The Ma Administration Must Not Turn Around and Walk on the Road
of Authoritarian Rule"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (11/27):

"The aspects for which the Ma [Ying-jeou] Administration was
denounced the most after it came into power for half a year were on
that it leaned toward China and that it took advantage of the
judiciary and police violence to conduct political harassment and
murder and persecute human rights [in Taiwan]. ...

"Overall, after coming into office, the Ma Administration draped
itself in the cloak of the rule of law and used national security as
an excuse openly to manipulate the judiciary and police to purge
political enemies and persecute human rights [in Taiwan]. Every
unimaginable phenomenon we have seen demonstrates that Taiwan's
democratic politics are in danger of collapsing. The shadow of the
white terror now hovers again over Taiwan people's heads. Now, only
by the general public holding the banner of human rights and freedom
to resist the Ma Administration from imposing the institutional
violence on the people, [including] on the one hand taking to the
streets to resist and on the other hand complaining to the
international community can Taiwan's democracy be protected and
prevent us and our offspring from falling under the iron heels of

B) "KMT Rights Rollback Cannot be Whitewashed"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (11/28):

"A flood of international criticism by global human rights
organizations, democratic governments and prominent legal scholars
and academics in the China and Taiwan fields has evidently touched a
sore nerve in the restored Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang)
government of President Ma Ying-jeou. ...

"The KMT government's aim to pull wool over the eyes of foreign and
domestic audiences was also exposed in claims that 'the U.S.
government has expressed its full confidence' in Taiwan's judicial

"Actually, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack on Nov. 18
stated that the legal process involving former president Chen 'is a
matter for Taiwan's legal system to resolve. We are confident in
Taiwan's democracy and its legal system, and we have every
expectation that the process will be transparent, fair, and

"The most important word used by the U.S. State Department spokesman
is 'expectation,' a term is by no means an endorsement but a
diplomatic signal not to stray one inch from the standards of being
'transparent, fair and impartial.'

"In sum, President Ma, [Justice Minister] Wang [Ching-feng] and
other KMT government leaders may not appreciate that the world
community has higher 'expectations' for the Taiwan government
precisely because it is supposed to be a democracy and may not
welcome any moves by the KMT government that threaten to extinguish
the lamp in Taiwan's democratic lighthouse and retard hopes to
promote democracy and human rights in China and the rest of Asia."

C) "Taiwan Must Not Copy PRC in Human Rights"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (11/27):

"... Ironically, while the UNCAT [Ed. Note: the UN Covenant Against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment] report condemned the PRC for keeping suspects under
custody 'for 37 days or longer periods,' Taiwan prosecutors have in
recent months similarly detained present and former DPP government
officials as 'suspects' incommunicado for up to two months without
filing indictments.

"These actions have sparked students, legal scholars as well as
human rights, civic reform and social movement organizations and
opposition parties to launch a campaign to resist the KMT's apparent
attempt to rollback Taiwan's human rights standards to PRC levels.

"International scholars and prominent human rights organizations
such as Freedom House and the Paris-based International Federation
for Human Rights (FIDH) also have issued open letters expressing
deep concern over these trends in a positive sign that Taiwan's
democracy and its achievements in human rights is valued by the
world community. ...

"For the sake of Taiwan's own sovereignty and human rights as well
as for the welfare of the 1.3 billion Chinese people and our world's
future, we urge the people of Taiwan to more actively assist the
development of human rights and democracy in China and stand up and
speak out to ensure that we retain our hard-won democracy and deepen
our protection for human rights instead of allowing a rollback to
PRC standards."

4. Chinese Military Modernization

"China's Carrier Plans Worry Region"

Yu Tsung-chi, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in the United
States, opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" [circulation: 30,000] (11/28):

"In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Chinese Major
General Qian Lihua, director of the Defense Ministry's Foreign
Affairs Office, said China has every right to build aircraft
carriers, without confirming whether it had decided to do so. This
enigmatic remark stirred fresh speculation about China's intentions
in developing or acquiring the carriers in light of its economic
rise. ...

"Although submarines are believed is the best deterrent to aircraft
carriers, Taiwan only has four submarines - two World War II-era
subs from the Soviet Union and two Dutch subs imported in the 1980s.
These outdated subs are obviously ill-suited to deter China's new
carrier equipped with the state-of-the-art weapon systems supported
by Russia.

"To remedy the cross-strait status quo tilting in China's favor, the
US must review the hold-up on its offer to sell Taiwan eight
submarines. After all, any policy disregarding the Taiwan Relations
Act would endanger the equilibrium in the Taiwan Strait and increase
the likelihood of war that would involve the US. ...

"The US, India and Japan would also be anxious about the prospects
of carriers, about how they will be used in the Chinese fleet and
what impact they will have on China's foreign policy. ...

"This is clearly at odds with China's claim of peaceful rise or
peaceful development. In fact, improving Sino-American strategic
relations are conditioned upon China not challenging US global
leadership, a position that Chinese leaders have repeatedly
stressed. China's rigorous military reach-out, however, is now
being interpreted otherwise. The more China's flexes its military
muscle the more defiant it may become. ..."


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