Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Links
DE RUEHIN #1741/01 3510929
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160929Z DEC 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0577
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8800
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0260
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001741
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: CROSS-STRAIT LINKS
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused December
16 news coverage on the formal launch of the three links -- namely,
air, sea and postal services -- between Taiwan and China Monday; on
the prosecutors' decision to appeal former President Chen
Shui-bian's release without bail; and on the slowdown in local
economy. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in
the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" hailed the launch of cross-Strait
links but urged the Ma Ying-jeou administration not to forget to
safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty. An editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" also chimed in by
saying the launch of three links represented the beginning of the
normalization of cross-Strait relations, which will save significant
costs while generating new business across the Taiwan Strait. An
editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News,"
by contrast, cast doubts on the effect of the "big three links" to
Taiwan's economy. The article criticized the Ma Ying-jeou
administration for failing to tell the general public the possible
risks that the three links will bring to Taiwan. End summary.
A) "Three Links Are Wonderful, but [Taiwan] Must Safeguard and
Secure Its Sovereignty"
The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
"Amid the sound of sirens sung from the cargo ships, the three links
[across the Taiwan Strait] have turned a new page in the history.
No matter whether such a development bodes well or ill, Taiwan
cannot deny that this is an historical moment. Judging from the
viewpoint that the earth is flat, direct transportation between the
two sides of the Taiwan Strait is an inevitable trend; there is no
way Taiwan can isolate itself from its powerful neighbor, China.
Like it or not, working with China will be one of the major ways to
[push for] Taiwan's long-term development. Judging from the
perspective of culture and geopolitics, there is also no need for
Taiwan to block all kinds of connection with China. ...
"However, when it comes to cross-Strait reconciliation, Taiwan must
stick to and safeguard its sovereignty and democracy. Without
sovereignty, [Taiwan] will be like a court eunuch, and it will
remain so forever. President Ma Ying-jeou has made contributions to
peace and development in the Taiwan Strait, but he must not follow
the steps of those historical figures who gave up the sovereignty of
B) "Normal Direct Links Begin"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (12/16):
"Sixteen passenger flights yesterday took off from the mainland and
Taiwan on the first day of direct links, normalizing cross-strait
air transport for the first time since 1949, when both had vowed to
conquer the other. The direct links are the beginning of a long
process of normalization of relations. The direct services will
save costs and generate new business as both Taiwan and the mainland
feel the pinch of the global economic slowdown.
"Nine mainland airlines and five Taiwan operators will run a total
of 101 flights during the first week of the new arrangements. The
new links mean tension between the two sides is finally eased,
marking the beginning of more frequent civil and business exchanges
as traveling time will be cut and the cost of transportation
C) "Links No Panacea for Taiwan Economy"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (12/16):
"Taiwan's economic relations with the authoritarian People's
Republic of China entered a new era yesterday with the initiation of
regular cross-strait direct air and marine links even though four
agreements signed between quasi-official agencies of both sides have
yet to be approved by the Legislative Yuan. ... Leaving aside Ma's
pollyannish claim that direct links will end cross-strait
antagonism, yesterday's celebrations left out any mention of
economic risks, social costs or negative political side-effects,
even though every economist or accountant realizes that any balance
sheet that lists only benefits without mentioning costs is
incomplete and misleading if not deliberately deceptive. ...
"Deeper integration between Taiwan and China is thus likely to
exacerbate polarization in Taiwan between large enterprises and a
minority of professional strata able to take advantage of the new
opportunities and small enterprises, the bulk of the working and
farming population and locales in central and southern Taiwan face
even more severe marginalization. Instead of blindly touting the
theoretical benefits of cross-strait integration, the Ma government
should muster the courage to ensure in future talks that Taiwan is
directly linked with the world and not simply with the PRC market as
well as realize the only reliable strategic engine for Taiwan's
economic development, especially in an era of external recession and
likely turbulence in Chinese society, should be Taiwan's internal
industrial and social upgrading."