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


DE RUEHIN #1210 2811001
R 081001Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage October 8 on the controversy revolving around Taiwan's
National Palace Museum (NPM), which denied it received an offer by a
French businessman to donate two Qing Dynasty bronze sculptures he
owns to the NPM; and on the discussion of "fat cats" in Taiwan. In
terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed U.S. President Barack
Obama's recent decision not to meet with the Dalai Lama and its
connection to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. The article said that,
given the Obama administration's concerns that any decision made in
terms of U.S. arms will likely jeopardize its relations with China,
the chances are slim that the United States will sell F16 C/D
fighter jets to Taiwan in the near future. End summary.

"The Dalai Lama and F-16 C/D Fighter Jets"

Liu Shih-chung, now a Visiting Fellow at the U.S.-based Brookings
Institution, opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 520,000] (10/8):

"... By contrast, given China's violation of human rights, its
attempts to stifle Tibet, and the already marginalized Taiwan issue,
it is not surprising that [President] Obama decided not to meet with
the Dalai Lama this time. For the Ma Ying-jeou administration in
Taiwan, cross-Strait relations are now in a relatively stable state;
[such a development] could free Obama, who is now working on the
U.S. health care and economic issues, from having to worry [about
the Taiwan Strait]. Even though the Ma administration has being
sending out strong signals showing [Taiwan's] interest in purchasing
F16 C/D fighter jets by strengthening its lobbying in Washington
D.C., via its legislative contacts, and having Ministry of National
Defense officials attend the 'U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry
Conference', the Obama administration remains unmoved.

"In addition to the afore-mentioned factors shaping the new
U.S.-Taiwan strategic framework, the high-ranking U.S. officials are
also concerned whether any new decision they make in terms of U.S.
arms sales to Taiwan would jeopardize the current atmosphere in the
Taiwan Strait, which, as a result, like the meeting with Dalai Lama
now, will surely create uncertainty for the development of
U.S.-China relations. It seems evident that promises made by the Ma
administration to the United States will not be able to remove such
concerns [of Washington]. After all, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have
always been a major difference between Washington and Beijing. On
the other hand, the Obama administration was confused by Ma
Ying-jeou's recent remarks on Taiwan's national defense policy. For
example, during a press conference in the wake of Typhoon Morakot,
Ma said 'Taiwan's biggest enemy is no longer China but mother
nature.' Also, Ma directly announced before even consulting with
the Ministry of National Defense that he had agreed to alter the
number of Black Hawk helicopters that Taiwan decided to buy from the
United States from 60 to 45 and use the money saved to buy rescue
helicopters. ... In any case, Ma's flip-flopping remarks in terms
of strengthening Taiwan's self-defense capabilities have indeed
conveyed a mixed message to Washington.

It is either that the Ma administration is playing a two-handed
strategy, or that Ma is, under the military's pressure, forced to
change his previous attitude not to strengthen Taiwan's national
defense. Such unusual signals indicate that Ma's leadership,
prestige and the foundation of his relations with the military are
very fragile, and the impact of such fragility will not only weaken
the awareness of Taiwan's national army of telling apart friend from
foe but will also cause the international community to question the
Taiwan government's determination to beef up its national defense

"Given all the factors above, the chances are slim that the Obama
administration will announce that it will sell F16 C/D fighter jets
to Taiwan next summer. The only likelihood will be that the United
States will announce its decision to sell other non-sensitive
weapons to Taiwan just to placate the Ma administration."


© Scoop Media

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