Cablegate: Media Reaction: North Korea, U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #1199/01 2780946
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050946Z OCT 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2441
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9418
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0836
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001199
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/P, EAP/PD - THOMAS HAMM
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: NORTH KOREA, U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage October 3-5 on Typhoon Parma, which is lingering south of
Taiwan and bringing heavy rain to northern and eastern parts of the
island; and on the island-wide celebrations of the Mid-autumn
Festival Saturday. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a
column in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed Chinese
Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Pyongyang in the wake of China's
celebration of its 60th anniversary. The article said, in the long
run, the nuclear weapons developed by Pyongyang will bring more
distress to Beijing than to Washington. An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" discussed U.S. arms
sales to Taiwan and urged the Obama administration "to give positive
consideration to the 'timing' of selling advanced F-16 C/D fighters
and other defensive-oriented weapons to Taiwan to strengthen
Taiwan's negotiation power with China and ensure the protection of
Taiwan's democracy and security." End summary.
2. North Korea
"[Chinese Premier] Wen Jiabao Goes to North Korea to Pay the Bill"
Columnist Antonio Chiang wrote in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 520,000] (10/5):
"China has demonstrated its power during the celebrations of its
60th anniversary, and in the meantime it has revealed its lack of
security. The stiff expression and the Mao suit worn by the Chinese
leaders reminded people of North Korea rather than a rising
superpower which is trying to embrace the world. It is interesting
to note that immediately following China's celebration of its
National Day, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao departed for Pyongyang for
a three-day visit. Wen is there to pay the bill. North Korea is a
burden for China's image, and also a burden for China's economy and
security. The diplomatic circle in Beijing moans and groans every
time anyone speaks of Pyongyang. It is always Beijing which paid
the bill no matter whether it was the Chinese leaders who visited
Pyongyang or the North Korean leaders who visited Beijing. ...
"China has taken advantage of its influence over Pyongyang and built
a sound, cooperative relationship with the United States, which has
greatly advanced its position on the international stage. Now
Washington has come around to the right way of thinking and decided
that, since China calls itself a great power in the region, it can
simply let Beijing shoulder the responsibility of being the big
brother! In any case, Pyongyang is developing nuclear weapons, and
the country that will bear the brunt is, without a doubt, Japan.
But in the long run, it is Beijing that will feel restless due to
deep worries [about those nuclear weapons]. Beijing's sense of
agony and distress will surely be heavier than those of
Washington's. Perhaps Wen will bring back news about the Six-Party
Talks, but returning to the negotiating table is tantamount to being
back to square one. Beijing is a skillful negotiator, but when it
comes to negotiating with Pyongyang, it will be like meeting one's
match -- [there are] no more tricks it can play...."
3. "Why U.S. Should Sell F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan"
The pro-independence "Taiwan News" [circulation: 20,000]
"The Annual United States-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, held
last week in Charlottesville, Virginia, provided a litmus test to
the character of the trilateral relationship between Taiwan, the
U.S. and the People's Republic of China. ... In a rare exercise of
political hard ball, Taiwan's Ministry of National defense forced Ma
to adjust his announced decision to cancel the purchase of UH-60
Blackhawk helicopters in exchange for rescue relief helicopters back
to the original procurement plan and intensified its pressure on
Washington to speed up the sales of upgraded F-16 C/D fighters to
address the yawning gap in air power in the Taiwan Strait, as urged
by Deputy Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang in the Charlottesville
Conference. For its part, Beijing has reaffirmed its steadfast
opposition against U.S. arms sales to Taiwan on each and every
possible occasion. ...
"At present, there are two main calculations in Washington's
strategic thinking. First, the Taiwan issue was definitely not at
the top of the agenda of the Obama administration in its first year.
Instead, one of Obama's prime diplomatic goals in visiting the PRC
is to secure Beijing's implementation of a climate change agreement
signed during July's SED as well as discussing a wide range of
issues with Hu to lead up to next summer's SED. Moreover,
Washington has been carefully observing Beijing's attitude and
response to Ma's touted 'goodwill' approach and is concerned over
whether a decision on the F-16 C/D Block jet fighters would
jeopardize the apparent cross-strait rapprochement.
"Since Ma's domestic support was hammered by his KMT government's
poor handling of the typhoon crisis, the extent to which Beijing
sees Ma's leadership as weakening will deeply influence the KMT
government's bargain chips in upcoming cross-strait negotiations.
Both factors mitigate against an early decision by Washington to
sell the upgraded F-16 C/D fighters to Taiwan in the near future.
... In this context, the F-16 C/D sale has both symbolic value in
demonstrating Taiwan's capability of deterrence and bolstering
Taiwan's negotiation assets relative to the PRC. Given the
uncertainties of future cross-strait relations, we urge the Obama
administration to give positive consideration to the 'timing' of
selling advanced F-16 C/D fighters and other defensive-oriented
weapons to Taiwan to strengthen Taiwan's negotiation power with
China and ensure the protection of Taiwan's democracy and security."