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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations


DE RUEHIN #1033/01 2380957
R 260957Z AUG 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage August 26 on the rapid spread of the H1N1virus in Taiwan
and the Taiwan government's plan to cope with the threat of the
epidemic; and on the on-going relief efforts and plans for
reconstruction in typhoon-stricken southern Taiwan. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, an op-ed piece in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" linked the largest-ever military exercise launched
by China's People's Liberation Army recently with a series of
incidents happening in Taiwan in the wake of Typhoon Morakot and
concluded that President Ma Ying-jeou's 'inaction' will likely
expose Taiwan to an unnecessary military crisis. A column in the
conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post,"
however, said cross-Strait ties may be speeding up in the wake of
Typhoon Morakot. End summary.

A) "China-U.S-Taiwan [Relations] -- Starting from the People's
Liberation Army's Unprecedented Large-scale [Military] Exercise"

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Yun Cheng, a freelancer focusing on Taiwan issues, opined in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 700,000] (8/26):

"... For Ma Ying-jeou, [all he needs to do] is to endure the
[criticisms] about his poor performance in handling the response to
Typhoon Morakot for a few days. But the biggest difference lies in
the fact that Ma's 'inaction' has resulted in the U.S. military's
proactive offer to show its presence [in Taiwan]. Also, while the
U.S. transport aircraft and mine-removing helicopters appeared in
the airspace of Taiwan with 'subdued markings', the CVN-73 aircraft
carrier of the [U.S.] Seventh Fleet was actually not far from [those
aircraft]. It appeared that the international media also rushed to
come to Taiwan as if they were expecting something big to happen.

"China was conducting its largest-ever [military] drill codenamed
'Kuayue ('Stride') 2009' on August 11, mobilizing [troops from] four
military zones -- Shenyang, Lanzhou, Jinan and Guangzhou -- for
nearly two months, and the drill was held in the vicinity of some
controversial areas such as North Korea, the South China Sea and
Afghanistan. ... As a result, the USS George Washington had assumed
a defensive posture: it departed its home port in Yokosuka, Japan
on August 10 and made a [port] call on Manila, the first time in
over thirteen years. Also, the USS Nimitz, which is harbored far
way in San Diego, started a journey westward in late July [in an
attempt] to replace [the USS George Washington].

"Just when both the United States and China were 'interacting in a
ritual-like manner,' several unusual incidents occurred in Taiwan
one after another: A [Taiwan] former chief of the general staff
arrived in Beijing for a visit on August 8, just when Typhoon
Morakot hit [southern Taiwan]; on August 9, five sections of the
undersea cables near Taiwan were interrupted, and the U.S. Pacific
Command twice took the initiative to express its willingness to
provide rescue assistance [to Taiwan]; while other countries started
to offer rescue assistance [to Taiwan] on August 10, the [KMT]
authorities welcomed China's assistance; China's People's Liberation
Army [PLA] launched its military drill on August 11, and Taiwan's
Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an 'emergency' cable declining
[rescue] supplies and teams from other countries; on August 12, six
sections of [Taiwan's] undersea cables were damaged, and China
turned down a port call by a naval vessel from Japan's Self-Defense
Force; the situation began to change after Taiwan's premier changed
his story and denied that [Taiwan] had rejected foreign assistance.
On August 13, several media outlets in Taiwan suggested that Taiwan
learn from the PLA's experience in conducting rescue missions; U.S.
AID personnel arrived in Taiwan on August 14, and PLA Major General
Luo Yuan urged Taiwan to review its alliance with the United States
before [both sides of the Taiwan Strait] establish a military
confidence-building mechanism; [President] Ma called for a national
security meeting; a U.S. C-130 aircraft landed in Taiwan on August
16; U.S. helicopters arrived in Taiwan on August 17, and the State
Department denied that it needed to inform China [about sending
military aircraft to Taiwan]. On August 18, China's Taiwan Affairs
Office reiterated its willingness to provide helicopters [to
Taiwan]; U.S. congressmen visited Taiwan via a military aircraft on
August 20; the USS Nimitz arrived in Yokosuka on August 24.

"... Regardless of the reasons and motives behind it, the incredible
'consecutive inaction' by the Ma administration and China's 'timely'
declaration of its willingness [to provide assistance to Taiwan]
alone would be sufficient to allow the PLA to seize the opportunity
to break through [Taiwan's] military command and control and land on
Taiwan in the name of [providing] 'humanitarian' [assistance]. Once
such a precedent is set, the U.S.-Japan security alliance may be
damaged in an instant due to an 'emergency situation' happening in
areas near Japan and thus turn the sixty-year-old strategic balance
in East Asia upside down! When [one] recalls the first week in the
wake of Typhoon Morakot, [one may find that] even if the Ma
administration were not regarded as plotting with Beijing, it is
still possible that its aloofness and hasty action will result in a

'misjudgment' by the United States, Japan and China and consequently
expose Taiwan to an unnecessary military crisis. The U.S.
military's eagerness to 'show itself' [in Taiwan] must be [seen] as
a 'preventative' [step]. ..."

B) "Cross-Strait Ties May Be Speeding up"

Columnist Frank Ching wrote in the conservative, pro-unification,
English-language "China Post" [circulation: 30,000] (8/26):

"... But this month, for the first time, American military aircraft
returned to Taiwan and conducted joint operations with the Taiwan
military -- the first such joint military operations since 1979.
Remarkably, China did not object. Beijing is extremely sensitive to
anything that smacks of official relations between the United States
and Taiwan, which it claims as part of its territory. But this
time, it was conspicuously silent. This silence is a reflection of
the profound changes that have taken place in relations among China,
Taiwan and the United States since Ma assumed the presidency last
year. ... Typhoon Morakot has not only highlighted the changes in
the delicate relationship involving Taipei, Beijing and Washington:
It may even have the effect of speeding them up.

"President Ma, who apologized for his administration's handling of
the natural disaster, said that the army would shift its focus to
disaster prevention and rescue, adding that Taiwan's enemy was not
necessarily the Chinese across the Taiwan Strait, but could be
nature. He also said his government would reduce the number of
Black Hawk military helicopters it had ordered from the United
States and buy heavy lift helicopters instead to enhance its ability
to conduct disaster relief and humanitarian missions. All this, no
doubt, was music to China's ears. While rejecting China's
helicopter offer, Taiwan did accept other aid from the mainland,
particularly pre-fabricated units to house those who have lost their
homes. ...

"Taipei and Beijing have both talked about signing a peace
agreement. Negotiations on such a pact will no doubt be sensitive
and prolonged. But if both sides publicly indicate a change in the
primary mission of the military, even without a reunification of
[sic] the use of force by China, it could go far to improving the
environment for talks to end 60 years of hostility across the Taiwan


© Scoop Media

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