Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.' Rescue and Relief Efforts for Taiwan


DE RUEHIN #1002/01 2300944
R 180944Z AUG 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused its news
coverage August 18 on the U.S. military helicopters coming to Taiwan
for humanitarian assistance missions in the aftermath of Typhoon
Morakot; on the mounting criticism against the Ma Ying-jeou
administration for its delays and incompetence in assisting the
typhoon victims; and on the on-going post-typhoon rescue efforts in
southern Taiwan. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an
editorial in the pro-unification "United Daily News" said assistance
from the United States and China was "humanitarian" assistance,
which should be above politics. A separate "United Daily News"
op-ed, however, said several unusual "signals" from both sides of
the Taiwan Strait in the wake of Typhoon Morakot have drawn the
close attention of the United States, which decided in the end "to
send troops to intervene." An analysis in the KMT-leaning "China
Times" criticized the Taiwan government for delaying a request for
assistance and said it has reduced the significance of the U.S.
military's rescue mission. End summary.

A) "Humanity, Assistance by the United States and China Are All
Humanitarian [Assistance]!"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (8/18):

"Sunday afternoon at 2:45 pm, a U.S. C-130 transport aircraft with
'subdued markings' from [a U.S. airbase in] Okinawa, Japan, arrived
at Tainan Air Force Base, completing its mission of carrying relief
materials [to Taiwan] in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot. This is
the first time that a U.S. military aircraft has landed on Taiwan
since Taiwan and the United States severed diplomatic ties in 1979.
Taiwan's authorities defined such a move as 'humanitarian assistance
that is above politics.' For Beijing, China's Taiwan Affairs Office
(TAO) Spokesman Yang Yi said 'this is humanitarian aid to Taiwan
conducted by the countries involved through civilian channels.' A
U.S. naval vessel was bringing rescue helicopters to Taiwan on
Monday, and such an effort should also be viewed as 'humanitarian
assistance.' ... As a result, one cannot help but call it a major
improvement over the past ten years [on Beijing's part] when Yang
was able to define immediately the U.S. rescue mission as
'humanitarian aid.' ..."

B) "National Security Disaster [for Taiwan]; China and the United
States Are Competing against Each Other in the Taiwan Strait"

Associate Professor from Central Police University's Department of
Public Security opined in the pro-unification "United Daily News"
[circulation: 400,000] (8/18):

"The damage caused by Typhoon Morakot and how the [Taiwan]
government copes with it has put Taiwan under the spotlight of the
international community. The absence of government leadership and
the ineffectiveness of [Taiwan's] military in rescue operations are
the first impressions commonly shared by the outside world. During
this period, several unusual signals emerged from both sides of the
Taiwan Strait, which have attracted the close attention of the
United States and resulted in [Washington's] decision to send troops
to intervene. ... The signal that the [Taiwan] government sent to
the outside world immediately [following the typhoon] -- '[we] want
to rely on China, and [we] do not need [assistance from] foreign
countries' undoubtedly confused the United States. ...

"More importantly, mainland China's 'China Youth' published an
article by People Liberation's Army Major General Lo Yuan on August
14, discussing how both sides of the Taiwan Strait will build a
military confidence-building mechanism. The article clearly
indicated that 'if Taiwan continues to maintain its substantive
military alliance with the United States and the United States still
sees mainland China as its biggest potential rival, how would it be
possible for mainland China to unilaterally adjust its military
deployments? Thus, both sides should show their sincerity, seize
such a rare opportunity to proactively discuss effective ways and
means to establish a military confidence-building mechanism across
the Taiwan Strait.' What it means is that China will not remove its
missiles [targeting Taiwan] unless Taiwan is determined to terminate
its substantive military alliance with the United States. Lo's
viewpoint happened to come at the worst possible moment and rattled
the nerves of Taiwan, the United States and China. ..."

D) "U.S. Military Refuses to Carry Heavy-lift Machinery; Its Good
Intention to Assist Taiwan Gets Snapped"

Journalist Wu Ming-chieh wrote in an analysis in the KMT-leaning
"China Times" [circulation: 120,000] (8/18):

"For the first time in over nearly fifty years, militaries from both
Taiwan and the United States will start a joint humanitarian rescue
operation today. The U.S. military planned to send four helicopters
to assist in [Taiwan's] rescue operations, but based on safety
concerns, the assistance provided by the U.S. military will be

limited; the U.S. military, in the end, expressed that it is only
willing to provide MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters to carry an 8.5 ton
mini excavator. As for [using] the 12 ton big excavator that has
already sat on the Tainan Air Force Base, the U.S. military already
said no! ...

"Such a development was actually the result of Taiwan's Central
Emergency Operation Center, which has missed the best timing for
immediate rescue operations. In the end, [Taiwan] has not only made
its request for U.S. assistance futile but has also reduced the
significance of the U.S. military's record-breaking efforts to offer
its assistance to Taiwan. ... Because of Taiwan's delay, the U.S.
military rescue operations have been transformed from purely
humanitarian aid to a sensitive diplomatic rescue [operation]. To
prevent Beijing's condemnation, the U.S. military can only make
changes on some symbolic details, such as sending the defensive
MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters to replace the originally planned more
offensive CH-53E Super Sea Stallion helicopters that can carry
troops. ..."


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