Cablegate: Media Reaction: Incoming Obama Administration
DE RUEHIN #1711/01 3451154
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101154Z DEC 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0534
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8789
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0247
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001711
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: INCOMING OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused December
10 news coverage on the sagging economic situation in Taiwan, on the
probe into the former First Family's alleged money-laundering case,
and on the controversy over the possible U.S. citizenship of a
ruling KMT legislator. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a
column in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed the incoming
administration of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama. The article
said that, even though Obama harped on "change" during his
campaigning, this does not indicate that he will really reverse the
U.S. policy in the wake of the election. An editorial in the
conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post" said
Obama's victory points to a future "where people are free to define
themselves as they like, but where no one is arbitrarily defined."
An editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
urged the KMT government not to "narrow the future scope of
relations with Washington to simply avoiding irritating Beijing but
should uphold the principle of 'responsible sovereignty' to engage
in multilateral cooperation with the incoming Obama administration."
A) "When the President Says There Will Be Change, It Does Not
Necessarily Means There Will Be Change"
Apple Daily Publisher James Tu wrote in his weekly column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (12/10):
"... Before he was elected, [U.S. President-elect] Barack Obama's
foreign policy and economic and financial policy were widely
criticized by conservatives in the United States. But the fact that
Obama quickly announced his financial and economic team appointees
at the moment when the economic situation was rapidly deteriorating
has won him extensive favorable comments. The mounting Dow Jones
index in the wake indicated the market's recognition of Obama's
financial and economic team. ...
"The situation was more or less the same when it comes to the aspect
of national security. Obama's national security team members are
all realists. ... Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton is a
right-wing Democrat who supports humanitarian intervention in areas
such as the Balkans and Africa. It is no wonder that even the
neo-conservatives believe that a national security team nominated by
[Republican] John McCain will not do [better] than [Obama's]. ...
Even though Obama campaigned under the banner of change, it does not
mean that he will really reverse U.S. policy in the wake of the
election. A leader faces only limited choices under harsh
conditions, and Obama is no exception. A look at Obama's personally
appointed governing team shows that it appears superfluous to have
excessive expectations or fear of the 'change' advocated by Obama."
B) "Obama Is America's First Hybrid President"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (12/10):
"... As the U.S. President-elect himself mentioned in his first
press conference after winning the November 4th election, Obama is
'a mutt.' His father was an African from Kenya, while his mother
hailed from the decidedly white U.S. state of Kansas. Obama is not
'black' in the traditional American understanding of the term.
Unlike most African-Americans, Obama is not the descendant of
African slaves brought to work in the New World hundreds of years
ago. In his best-selling book 'Dreams from My Father,' Obama
candidly discusses the reality of his ethnic heritage, and in the
end he writes that he made a choice to assume the identity of a
black man. But perhaps the reason America's president-in-waiting
made such a choice was that no other one was available. ...
"Nationalism, or what some call 'tribalism,' can have positive
attributes, such as in sports, but all too often it's a force for
evil. America's election of a half-white, half-black,
Hawaiian-born, partially Indonesian-educated man with the middle
name of 'Hussein' points to the future. It's a future where people
are free to define themselves as they like, but where no one is
arbitrarily defined. At the close of the year 2008, Barack Obama's
heritage is still considered a rarity. But the future is coming,
and just, as with automobiles, it's going to feature hybrids. It's
time to let go of the rigidity of the past."
C) "Taiwan Needs Agenda for U.S. in Obama Era"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (12/10):
"The policy priorities of the incoming Democratic Party
administration of president-elect Barack Obama have surfaced in the
wake of his appointment of a new national security and foreign
policy team last week which will join his economic team in preparing
to tackle the international financial tsunami and other global
crises. At this juncture, it is essential for the Taiwan government
of President Ma Ying-jeou's restored Chinese Nationalist Party
(Kuomintang) administration to seriously examine the future foreign
policy goals and values of the incoming United States administration
and develop constructive ways to deepen US-Taiwan relations. ...
Unlike his predecessor who highlighted the unilateralist pursuit of
narrowly conceived American interests, the Obama team has placed top
priority on dealing with global issues such as nuclear
proliferation, climate change, terrorism, energy, infectious
diseases, poverty and international financial instability.
In terms of garnering support from its allies and rising powers to
negotiate with its adversaries, there seems little doubt that Obama
administration will incorporate multilateral mechanisms to work
closely with the People's Republic of China as well as Washington's
trans-Atlantic and Asian partners to solve emergent crises and deter
potential threats from Russia, Pakistan, the Middle East and Africa
in line with strong public anticipation from the American citizenry
for the new U.S. government to 'share the burdens' with the world
community. ... At this critical juncture, it is ironic that while
the KMT intensely pressured the former DPP government of
ex-president Chen Shui-bian to cooperate with Bush's priorities and
not 'provoke' Beijing, the Ma administration seems to be adopting a
minimalist and one-sided approach to Washington. ...
"However, the KMT government may not realize that its disinclination
to defend Taiwan's sovereignty simply for the sake of pursuing a
cross-strait rapprochement is not likely to endure as a constructive
method to forge a long-lasting U.S.-Taiwan relationship since U.S.
interests would not be served by Taiwan's transformation into a
virtual PRC colony. Instead, Taipei should seriously take into
account the major agendas and new values of the Obama administration
and implement an active and positive policies to assist the new
government of our closest ally to promote its global agenda. ...
The KMT government must not narrow the future scope of relations
with Washington to simply avoiding irritating Beijing but should
uphold the principle of 'responsible sovereignty' to engage in
multilateral cooperation with the incoming Obama administration."