Cablegate: Media Reaction: The Mumbai Terrorist Attacks, the U.S.
DE RUEHIN #1669/01 3360821
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010821Z DEC 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0476
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8767
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0221
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001669
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - NIDA EMMONS
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: THE MUMBAI TERRORIST ATTACKS, THE U.S.
MILITARY STRATEGY, U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage November 29 - December 1 on the probe into the former first
family's corruption scandals; on the economic downturn in Taiwan;
and on speculation about a cabinet reshuffle.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, regarding the Mumbai
terrorist attacks, a column in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China
Times" commented on the attacks as relating to South Asian
geopolitics and the United States' war on terror. An editorial in
the conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
hailed United States President George W. Bush's efforts in fighting
terrorism and cast doubts on whether Bush's successor Barack Obama
can protect the United States from the threat of terrorism. With
respect to the United States' military presence in the Asia-Pacific
region, an op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" commented on the United States Pacific Command's subtle
revised combat strategy which was unveiled recently. In the
U.S.-China-Taiwan relations, an editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taiwan News" criticized President Ma Ying-jeou's
cross-Strait policy, saying that Ma's policy could win favor in
Washington but lead to an undemocratic "final solution." End
3. The Mumbai Terrorist Attacks
A) "The Effect of the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks"
The column "Concept Platform" in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China
Times" [circulation: 220,000] wrote (11/30):
"The shock wave of the Mumbai terrorist attacks has repercussions on
the direction of South Asian geopolitics. [The attacks] also gave
advance notification that the war on terror is not over yet, and
even challenged the layout of the United States' global war on
"Pakistan is an important partner of the United States in the global
war on terror as well as being friendly with China. The conflict
between India and Pakistan will definitely change Pakistan's warfare
deployment and invisibly provide 'Al Qaida' with room for survival.
The result of such a strategic change of direction certainly will
disrupt the time schedule of the United States' war on terror. In
order not to be involved in the incident and become a target of
public criticism, Pakistan instantly denied that it instigated the
attacks behind the scene or incited the attacks, and it ordered
officials to help in the investigation. What [Pakistan] put into
consideration was the element of the United States' anti-terrorism.
"The Mumbai terrorist attacks hit the sensitive nerve of conflict
between India and Pakistan and affected the two countries' crisis
management capabilities. Equilibrium in South Asia is the driving
force of the United States, as well as China's competition in the
geopolitics [of the region]. Strained Indo-Pakistani bilateral
relations do not help to stabilize the South Asian situation, which
not only the United States and China are not happy to see but also
puts new variables in the balance of power in South Asia. The
consequence of fomenting conflict is certainly a direct impact on
South Asian geopolitics and indirectly delays the Obama
Administration's plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq,
as well as the United States' strategic deployment in the global war
on terror starting in 2001. ..."
B) "War on Terror a Long Way off"
The pro-unification, English-language "China Post" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (11/29):
"... [Indian Prime Minister Manmohan] Singh said correctly that the
attackers aimed to create panic and turmoil in India, which, along
with China, is rising rapidly as an economic power to be reckoned
with. It is a warning to the free world that it is so vulnerable to
terrorism that it should pull together to battle this scourge. The
world needs a unified anti-terror agency to take charge of the
mission. India was completely in the dark prior to the surprise
attack, much the same as America was caught off guard by 9/11. It
was an abject failure of intelligence. Early this week, the U.S.
Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning that al-Qaida may
attack the rapid transit system of New York during Thanksgiving.
The alert was useful, telling terrorists that New York was
"In this respect, George W. Bush, despite his failed presidency
deserves credit for being able to prevent another 9/11 on U.S.
homeland. This said, he also deserves condemnation for
extraordinary rendition, Gitmo, waterboarding, wire tapping, etc.
But Bush is a 'war president' who wields extraordinary powers to
protect his people during extraordinary times. His successor Barack
MILITARY STRATEGY, U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
Obama has vowed to do away with Bush's way of treating terrorists.
It remains to be seen whether being kinder to international
terrorists would not jeopardize American national security."
4. The U.S. Military Strategy
"U.S. Command Adjusts Its Strategy"
Richard Halloran, a writer based in Hawaii, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
"The US Pacific Command, which controls US forces from the west
coast of North America to the east coast of Africa, has fashioned a
subtle revision in its strategy of reassuring friends and deterring
potential enemies, notably China and North Korea.
"The new strategy, approved this month by the command's leader,
Admiral Timothy Keating, is 'based on partnership, presence and
military readiness.' Earlier versions were more assertive, saying
'it is a strategy rooted in partnership and military preeminence.'
"Officers at the command's headquarters said the revised strategy
was aimed at several audiences:
"First, the officers of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force
throughout the Asia-Pacific region, some of whom apparently believe
that conflict with China is likely, maybe inevitable. 'The command
wants to make sure that everyone understands that it is not
inevitable,' one officer said.
"Second, US government agencies other than the Department of
Defense. An undercurrent rumbling through the armed forces contends
that the State Department, Agency for International Development,
Treasury and other agencies are leaving too many non-military tasks,
such as reconstruction in Iraq, to the military.
"Third, allies such as Japan and Australia and partners such as
Singapore. Another undercurrent represents fears that the US may
reduce its forces in the Asia-Pacific region or even withdraw. The
strategy seeks to reassure everyone that the command will be 'an
engaged and trusted partner committed to preserving the security' of
"Fourth, known adversaries such as North Korea and potential
opponents such as China. ...
"It points to a 'maturing US-China military-to-military
relationship' while acknowledging that 'tension remains across the
"Taiwan, of course, is the most likely cause of war between China
and the US. Beijing contends that Taiwan is part of China and has
threatened to use military force to conquer it. The US insists that
the fate of Taiwan be determined peaceably and in accord with the
wishes of the people. ...
"Even with the emphasis on partnership, the strategy concludes on an
assertive note: In the Asia-Pacific region, the command is to be the
5. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
"Ma's Risky Agenda"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (12/1):
"... Seemingly unmoved by the continued downward spiral of the
economy and the plunge of his own approval ratings to the mid-20
percentile, Ma has devoted most of his energies to achieving four
political agendas upon which Ma aims to build his re-election
"The first pillar is the resumption of cross-strait dialogue and
immediate opening of charter flights and Chinese tourists to Taiwan,
which Ma aims to use to pave the way for the second and third
pillars of his agenda, namely to secure a green light from Beijing
for Taiwan's participation in next year's World Health Assembly and
endorsement from the United States for his efforts to normalize
"Ma has largely realized his first goal by riding roughshod over
dissidence and by ignoring the troubling implications for his own
long-term leadership spawned by the primacy of the KMT-CCP platform
in cross-strait negotiations.
MILITARY STRATEGY, U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
"Nevertheless, embedded in these two 'achievements' is a severe
erosion of Taiwan's sovereignty and a depreciation of Taiwan's
strategic value in the triangular relationship between the US, the
PRC and Taiwan.
"While the right-wing Republican administration of outgoing
President George W. Bush has stressed a 'peaceful resolution' of
cross-strait disputes, it has also clearly de-emphasized the key
condition of 'assent of the Taiwan people' voiced by former
Democratic president Bill Clinton in February 2000.
"All Taiwan citizens should carefully consider whether single-minded
pursuit of a cross-strait 'detente' that could win favor in
Washington and Beijing but lead to an undemocratic 'final solution'
is in our best collective interests. ..."