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


DE RUEHIN #1222/01 2861032
R 131032Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage October 10-13 on former Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian,
who filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed
Forces earlier asking the court to order Taiwan President Ma
Ying-jeou, who Chen described in his suit as the "current civil
administrator in Taiwan," to set him free and rescind the life
sentence imposed on him; on the KMT's Central Standing Committee
election Sunday; and on U.S. President Barack Obama's winning the
Nobel Peace Prize. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an
op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" said,
judging from U.S. President Obama's "tendency to please enemy states
while overlooking allies," he might postpone the sale of F16 C/D
fighter jets to Taiwan because of China's opposition. An editorial
in the pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" discussed
Obama's winning the Nobel Peace Prize and said he "can best fulfill
the trust symbolized by the Nobel Peace Prize by realizing that
genuine peace in East Asia requires effective guarantees for the
protection of smaller nations from an authoritarian and militarily
belligerent power. ..." End summary

A) "U.S. Position on Taiwan Defense Is Shifting"

Lin Cheng-yi, Director of the Institute of European and American
Studies at the Academia Sinica, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (10/13):

"Former US President George W. Bush planned to station missile
interceptors in Poland and radar bases in the Czech Republic to
prevent Iran from attacking Europe with missiles. However, because
the plan upset Russia, US President Barack Obama canceled it. A Wall
Street Journal editorial criticized Obama for giving dictators more
room to maneuver while not giving those who challenge dictators
enough opportunities. Obama's tendency to please enemy states while
overlooking allies and the way he has dealt with Poland and Tibet
make one wonder whether he might postpone the sale of F16C/D fighter
planes to Taiwan because of Chinese opposition. This is something
that Taiwan cannot afford to ignore. Obama administration officials
have repeatedly said the US has the responsibility to provide
defensive weapons to Taiwan according to the Taiwan Relations Act.
However, he has also extended strategic guarantees to Chinese
President Hu Jintao. While the Obama administration slapped 35
percent tariffs on Chinese tires and sent the USS Chung-Hoon
destroyer to protect the US' naval right of passage in the South
China Sea, his postponing of a meeting the Dalai Lama, muted
criticism of China's human rights and finance policies and
increasing China's voting power in the IMF all show that moral
principles are losing to practical concerns.

"Over the past two years, Taiwan has set funds aside and requested
that the US provide it with weapons. ... In the past, it was Taiwan
that delayed arms purchases; now it is the US government, and in
doing so it is allowing the cross-strait military balance to shift
in Beijing's favor. Obama will find that the longer he postpones
the sale of the F16C/Ds to Taiwan, the stronger China's reaction and
the higher the price the US and Taiwan will have to pay to pacify
it. ... [Kurt] Campbell is now Assistant Secretary of State for
East Asian and Pacific affairs. In the past, he was also a member of
the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think
tank, as is US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific
Security Affairs Wallace Gregson. This implies that the Obama
administration plans to increase the 'soft power' of Taiwan's
military and will not be focusing so much on weapons sales.

"At the conference, Gregson said that as Taiwan's national defense
resources are limited, Taiwan should adopt more creative security
concepts. He also suggested that Taiwan develop asymmetric warfare
capabilities. This suggestion is very similar to the 'porcupine'
defense strategy proposed by US Naval War College professor William
Murray and probably shows the way for future US-Taiwan cooperation
on defense. The method dodges the matter of selling F16C/Ds to
Taiwan and eases US worries that US-made weapons could end up in
Chinese hands 20 years from now."

B) "Obama Must Promote Real East Asian Peace"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (10/12):

"... Obama's foreign policy principles entail the extensive use of
multilateral diplomatic negotiation to defuse potential conflicts
and has emphasized 'engagement and dialogue' over 'containment and
confrontation' in handling the challenges posed by rising regional
powers, notably the Chinese Communist Party-ruled People's Republic
of China. So far, Obama has tallied several notable achievements in
accordance with the goals of maintaining peace and protecting human
rights, including his initiative to seek reconciliation between the
U.S. and the Muslim world, the closing of the notorious the U.S.
concentration camp at Guantanamo, the beginning of the
implementation of his plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and his

renouncement of plans for a missile defense system deployment in
Poland. However, the decision to award Obama with a Nobel Peace
Prize in advance with the apparent strategic intention of
encouraging Washington to stay on the multilateral track has its
blind spots.

"First, it is by no means the case that Obama's foreign policy is
simply a product of 'ABB' ('Anything but Bush') considerations but
is largely a reflection of domestic pressures. ... Moreover, the
Obama administration's approach in Asia is fraught with fundamental
Undoubtedly, a difficult challenge concerns whether Obama can
display both strong determination and smart diplomacy in dealing
with 'rogue states' such as North Korea and Iran. Moreover, the
Obama administration has not only supported new Japanese Prime
Minister Hatoyama Yukio's notion of an Asian regional community but
has also strongly encouraged its allies to follow policies of
engagement with the PRC.

"The problem lies in the fact that the PRC itself and its
transparent ambition for regional hegemony and the threat to
regional democracies and human rights posed by its military-backed
authoritarian influence is precisely the main long-term structural
threat to regional peace and security. Obama has yet to show
awareness for the need for a balance in maintaining peace in
military terms and ensuring the continuation and fostering of
democracy and human rights in Asia, a balance which we deeply
believe must be tilted in favor of the latter. Indeed, on the eve
of his first official trip to Asia and the PRC, Obama put off a
planned meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama in
Washington last week. This move hints that Obama is continuing his
predecessor's excessive dependence on Beijing's 'cooperation' on
other issues while neglecting to hedge the risks of the PRC's rise
to hegemony in Asia, ignoring its threat to regional democracy and
human rights and failing to be aware of the possibly grave
reverberations on hopes for democracy in the PRC itself of the
erosion of democracy in other Asian nations, especially Taiwan.

"Obama can best fulfill the trust symbolized by the Nobel Peace
Prize by realizing that genuine peace in East Asia requires
effective guarantees for the protection of smaller nations from an
authoritarian and militarily belligerent power and by sowing the
seeds of democracy and human rights instead of sacrificing these
basic values for the sake of short-term calm. We therefore urge
President Obama to express his concern on the CCP regime's continued
violation of human rights in his scheduled visit to China next month
and to express his concerns for the recent signs of regression in
Taiwan's democracy under the restored Chinese Nationalist Party
(Kuomintang, KMT) government under President Ma Ying-jeou."


© Scoop Media

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