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


DE RUEHIN #1176/01 2720855
R 290855Z SEP 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage September 29 on the aftermath of the KMT's defeat in
Saturday's Yunlin County's legislative by-election and its impact on
the year-end city mayors' and country magistrates' elections; and on
other local political issues. In terms of editorials and
commentaries, an editorial in the pro-independence, English-language
"Taipei Times" discussed the People's Republic of China's
celebrations of its upcoming 60th anniversary and the parade, in
which an arsenal of new weapons will be displayed. The article said
the display of China's military might "brings little comfort" to
"the people of Taiwan and U.S. military personnel who would likely
intervene on Taiwan's side in the event of war." An editorial in
the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" discussed the
Obama administration's policy to engage China and urged Washington
"to send a clear message to PRC leaders that they should respect the
right of the 23 million Taiwan people to determine their own future
through democratic processes without coercion." End summary.

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A) "It's Scaring the Neighbors"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (9/29):

"The People's Republic of China (PRC) celebrations of its 60th
anniversary on Thursday will very much be a military affair. In
fact, Beijing has been boasting that the nation's newest nuclear
missiles will be part of an arsenal of new weapons - 90 percent of
which have never been paraded before. ... The state-run People's
Daily newspaper, however, quoted [General] Gao [Jianguo, executive
deputy director of the office of the National Day Military Parade
Joint Command] as saying that this unprecedented display of military
might is not about intimidating China's neighbors, but rather a
celebration of the country's achievements, adding that 'a country's
military ability is not a threat to anyone, what is important is its
military policy.' This assertion, however, brings little comfort to
those against whom such weapons would be used -- mainly the people
of Taiwan and US military personnel who would likely intervene on
Taiwan's side in the event of war. ...

"... For one thing, a decade ago the balance on military power in
the Taiwan Strait was still in Taiwan's favor and China had yet to
develop, or at least deploy, weapons meant to delay or deny the
entry of US forces in the Strait. The situation today is
drastically different. Not only has the balance of power shifted in
Beijing's favor, but China has become far more assertive and, thanks
to President Ma Ying-jeou's pro-China policies, its leadership feels
that its objective of unifying Taiwan and China may finally be
within its grasp. Should domestic politics in Taiwan between now and
2012 threaten to derail moves toward that goal, and if the US
continues to suffer from a weakened economy and a number of taxing
military deployments, Beijing may have little compunction in using
its growing arsenal to achieve its aims.

"This year's parade will also see a greater representation from all
branches of the military, with many items having an offensive,
rather than defensive, purpose. Generals in Beijing can say what
they want, but the fact of the matter is, huge displays of offensive
military equipment signal to the rest of the world, and more
specifically the region, that China has the means to flex its
muscles when necessary. Of the two key factors in a state's decision
to use force - intent and capabilities - Beijing is now showing that
is has the latter. The main question now is whether Beijing will,
over time, develop the intent. ..."

B) "Obama Must Not Forget Democracy in Asia"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (9/29):

"In the face of the arrival of the People's Republic of China as a
regional power, the new United States administration of President
Barack Hussein Obama accented multilateralism in his outline of
foreign policy during a speech at the United Nations General
Assembly last week with his call for 'a new era for the U.S. to
engage with the world.' ... However, it is unfortunate that Obama
did not shed some light on how his democratic government would
defend and promote the democratic values of democracy and human
rights in the world community. As citizens of Taiwan, we are
particularly eager to see how the Obama administration views the
rise of a still-authoritarian and aggressive PRC and strikes a
balance between engaging Beijing while preserving and cherishing
Taiwan's democracy and substantive independence.

In a speech last week to the Washington-based Center for New
American Security, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg
delivered a 'strategic reassurance' to U.S. allies in the
Asia-Pacific region and to his PRC counterparts. ... We can
appreciate the Obama administration's perception of the need to
engage Beijing, but we also realize perfectly well that underlying

such notions is the Obama administration's desperate need for
Beijing's cooperation on various international issues.
Nevertheless, we urge the Obama administration to adopt a more
balanced approach when it attempts to engage the PRC. In
particular, we urge the Obama administration to avoid drifting
toward the chimera of a consolidated bilateral relationship such as
a 'G-2' concept with an authoritarian PRC while neglecting America's
long-standing and value-based partnerships with democratic allies
throughout the world.

"Significantly, most U.S. allies have already publically or
privately expressed concern over whether Washington has put too many
of its bets on China and has erroneously downplayed its
relationships with other regional allies. Indeed, the stark reality
that there are grave uncertainties over the scale and motives of the
PRC's rapid expansion of its military clout and its continued and
even intensifying campaign against democratization in Asia should
speak volumes on the urgent need for closer partnership between
Washington and its democratic allies in the Asia-Pacific region from
Japan to Australia and, albeit unofficially, Taiwan. Furthermore,
the Obama administration should carefully examine and ascertain how
genuine Beijing's willingness is to comply with international norms
and whether the PRC actually views the United States more as a
potential partner and "hedge" the risk that the PRC sees and treats
the U.S. as a threat. ...

"What is more worrisome is the possibility of 'trade-offs' between
Washington and Beijing. ... It is especially sad to see that Obama
has not yet offered any significant criticism of the PRC's gross
violations of human rights in Tibet or in China itself. We call on
Obama to uphold the founding values of his country and his
Democratic Party and express his concerns over China's pervasive
violations of human rights during his first visit to the PRC later
this year. Moreover, even though Washington is evidently satisfied
with the efforts of President Ma Ying-jeou's Kuomintang government
to improve cross-strait relations, we urge Obama to send a clear
message to PRC leaders that they should respect the right of the 23
million Taiwan people to determine their own future through
democratic processes without coercion. ..."


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