Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations
DE RUEHIN #1767/01 3570943
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220943Z DEC 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0613
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8812
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0272
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001767
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 RELATIONS
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused
December 20-22 news coverage on the confirmation of the H5N2 avian
flu epidemic situation in southern Taiwan; on the fourth KMT-CCP
forum held in Shanghai; and on the local economic downturn.
2. Following the recently-concluded forum between Taiwan's KMT and
the Communist Party of China (CCP), an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" alleged that by giving benefits to
Taiwan when Taiwan is facing an economic downturn, China is turning
Taiwan into another Hong Kong or Macau in the long-run. An
editorial in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" said the
meaning of the fourth KMT-CCP forum was significantly different from
previous ones because it was actually a talk between the two ruling
parties. The editorial, however, warned that more complicated and
thornier cross-Strait issues lie ahead. One op-ed said Taiwan must
not let China internalize the Taiwan issue, which would be
advantageous to China in using force against Taiwan. An editorial
in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" wrote some
scenarios that China might use to deal with Taiwan's bid to the
World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2009. End summary.
A) "China Uses the KMT-CCP Forum to Give Orders to the Ma Ying-jeou
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
"... First of all, in the KMT-CCP forum, China posed as a motherland
rescuing a suffering Taiwan and 'Hong Kong-ifying or Macau-ifying'
Taiwan to make it China's political and economy colony. ...
"Second, the Ma Ying-jeou Administration violated the law and sent
five officials to attend the KMT-CCP forum. Such an action formally
and thoroughly discredited Ma Ying-jeou's statement that the
so-called KMT-CCP forum was a second track [of dialogue] between the
two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The KMT-CCP forum that [Chinese
President] Hu Jintao touted was in fact the first track [of
dialogue] with regard to cross-Strait policy. ...
B) "The Really Complicated Cross-Strait Issues Have Not Been Put on
the Table Yet"
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 220,000]
"Although [the KMT-CCP forum] was only a party to party dialogue
platform in terms of its nature, the meaning [of this KMT-CCP forum]
certainly was different from previous ones because both sides [the
KMT and the CCP] were the ruling parties and this was the first time
that there were [Taiwan] officials sitting at the table and
conducting dialogue directly. Moreover, the issues being discussed
were important ones which matter in the next stage of interaction
between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. At the very least, one
can be sure that although the consensus reached between both sides
[of the Taiwan Strait] were only called 'recommendations,' the nine
recommendations would very likely become important points in the
next stage of substantive interaction between the two sides of the
Taiwan Strait. ...
"With the launching of the direct three links [air, sea, and postal
service between Taiwan and China], everyone knew that both sides of
the Taiwan Strait have started a process that can not be reversed.
After the successful conclusion of the KMT-CCP forum and before the
third talks between [Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF)
Chairman] P. K. Chiang and [China's Association for Relations across
the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman] Chen Yunlin next year, the table
will be served with more issues and more complicated issues. After
issues such as economy and trade, tourism, shipping, and education
are resolved, more sensitive issues will appear on the stage. It is
still unclear how [Taiwan's] participation in the World Health
Assembly (WHA) is going to be resolved. On the eve of the opening
of the KMT-CCP forum, President Ma Ying-jeou wrote a letter to the
Thailand media urging Beijing to remove missiles [targeted at
Taiwan], whose purpose intention was very clear. There are many
complicated cross-Strait issues that have not yet been served on the
C) "Beijing's Bid to 'Internalize' Taiwan"
J. Michael Cole, a write based in Taipei, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
"One of the key components of Beijing's policy on Taiwan and Tibet
has been to internalize the problems and to fight efforts by
so-called 'separatists' to internationalize them. ...
"Speaking at a forum on cross-strait developments organized by the
Brookings Institution and National Chengchi University's Institute
of International Relations on Dec. 4, University of Hong Kong
professor Richard Weixing Hu, representing the view from China, said
Beijing's focus should increasingly be on de-internationalizing the
Taiwan question and institutionalizing, or internalizing, it.
"The rationale behind this approach makes perfect sense, as the more
internal the Taiwan question becomes for China, the easier it will
be for Beijing to placate efforts, in Taiwan and abroad, to sustain
Taiwan as a sovereign entity or argue for its defense. A successful
bid to sell the story of Taiwan as a domestic matter would also make
it easier for Beijing to use force, just as Moscow has managed to
evade international opprobrium by portraying Chechnya as a domestic
"If Taiwan is to survive as an independent sovereign entity, every
effort must be made to ensure that it remains an international
problem, even if, for the first time in decades, such efforts must
be made without government help. In other words, we may be
presented with a case of sub-state actors being called upon to save
the state from itself. ...
"If the Ma administration won't do it, the people can. Taiwan must
remain an international issue."
D) "Taiwan Must Beware of China's WHA Trap"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (12/22):
"... [China's Taiwan Affairs Office Spokesman] Lee's trial balloon
hints that a formula may be close to completion, but our greatest
concern is under what conditions and through what channels will
Beijing allow Taiwan to participate in the WHA.
"While the vast majority of the Taiwan people want at least a formal
and distinct observer status in the WHA and 'meaningful
participation' in the WHO, PRC sources indicate that Beijing 'will
remain firm on sovereignty' and will insist that any concessions on
Taiwan's participation in the WHA or WHO an 'exception' that will
not be applicable to any other international organization in the
United Nations system.
"To realize even this limited concession, Beijing would have to
invalidate the secret memorandum it signed with the WHO
secretary-general in May 2005 that granted the PRC Ministry of
Health the authority to vet all WHO health-related communications
and information to Taiwan and to permit Taiwan specialists from some
participation in WHO events under the rubric of 'Taipei, China.'
"The chances that Beijing will agree to revoke this arrangement are
low. A more likely scenario from Beijing's standpoint would be to
allow Taiwan to receive first-hand and timely information from the
WHO, perhaps as a 'health entity' under the rubric of 'Taipei,
China' or at best 'Chinese Taipei.'
"Such an arrangement, which would not transgress the bounds of the
May 2005 MOU, would exclude Taiwan from formal and distinct
participation in the WHO system and allow Beijing to retain an
ultimate veto power on Taiwan's participation, but fall far short of
what most Taiwan people see as 'international participation.'
"It is also possible that the PRC could simply verbally discourage
its diplomatic allies from vetoing Taiwan's application for WHA
observer status as a hypocritical sign of 'goodwill,' regardless of
the outcome of the actual vote.
"Naturally, the worst case scenario would be for the PRC to continue
to reject Taiwan's bid for WHA observer status outright in
expectations that Ma and the KMT will not dare to reconsider their
'tilt' toward Beijing regardless of such a slap in the face. ..."