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


DE RUEHIN #1247 2930959
R 200959Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage October 20 on the Taiwan government's plan to impose energy
taxes starting in 2011; on President Ma Ying-jeou's remarks on
cross-Strait relations during his interview with Reuters Monday; and
on the year-end city mayors' and country magistrates' elections in
Taiwan. Both the pro-unification "United Daily News" and the
KMT-leaning "China Times" carried news stories saying incumbent U.S.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki is expected to visit
Taiwan in 2010, a move which the newspapers believe to be "a symbol
of the warming ties between the United States and Taiwan."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a news analysis in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" commented on President Ma's
interview with Reuters and said that recognizing Taiwan's
independent sovereignty would be better than removing the missiles
targeting Taiwan, if both sides of the Taiwan Strait were to
negotiate a peace pact. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" discussed a missile test conducted
by Taiwan's military in southern Taiwan last Tuesday, and the
alleged "leak" of the information about the test. The article
suspected that the "leak" was meant to "downplay the importance of
the test and ensure that cross-strait talks on economic
liberalization can continue apace." End summary.

A) "Recognizing [Taiwan's] Independent Sovereignty Would Be Better
Than Removing the Missiles"

Journalist Lo Tien-ping noted in an analysis in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" [circulation: 680,000] (10/20):

"During an interview with Reuters on October 19, President Ma
Ying-jeou raised a two-stage doctrine of 'removing the missiles
[targeting Taiwan] first before both sides negotiate a peace
agreement.' He also indicated that he would not exclude the
possibility of meeting with [Chinese President] Hu Jintao. But
given the rapid changes going on in cross-Strait relations, the
prerequisite for Ma's remarks on 'removing the missiles' was
obviously obsolete. If both sides of the Taiwan Strait were to
negotiate a peace pact, its prerequisite should be that China must
publicly announce that Taiwan is an independent sovereign state.
Only when both sides are standing on an equal footing will the talks
over a peace pact have significance, and in that way Taiwan's
interests will be safeguarded. ..."

B) "Missiles, Leaks and Really Odd Timing"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (10/20):

"The timing of a major missile test at Jioupeng base, Pingtung
County, last Tuesday, could not have been more unusual, coming a
little more than a week before Taipei and Beijing were to launch
informal talks on a trade pact. ... The fact that a missile test on
this scale was held at all under a Ma administration that seeks,
above all, better relations with China, and at a time when the two
sides are on the brink of signing trade pacts, is itself striking.
Failure or not, it is difficult to reconcile the timing with Ma's
'pragmatic' approach to cross-strait relations.

"Though it is shrouded in secrecy, it is hard to imagine that the
test would have gone unnoticed by the US and China. Despite
Washington's opposition to Taiwan's acquiring or developing
offensive weapons -- which the HF-2E is -- we can assume that the US
military, which maintains close ties with the Taiwanese military
apparatus, was informed beforehand, perhaps during the US-Taiwan
Defense Industry Conference in Virginia late last month, or at the
Transnational Security Cooperation course provided by the
Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, a US-funded think tank
based in Hawaii, earlier this year. Such a test would also have
been difficult to hide from China. Despite the remoteness of the
base, which is located in the southeastern part of the country, such
missiles would be picked up by Chinese radar. The plan, therefore,
appears to have been to keep the test secret and to avoid publicity
lest it derail the careful, albeit precarious, balancing act
engineered by Taipei, Beijing and Washington. ..."

"While leaks are nothing new in the military, whistle-blowers
usually make classified information public for a reason. In this
case, given the sensitive nature and timing of the test, it is
conceivable that the originator of the leak meant to put a spoke in
the wheel of cross-strait negotiations, which have proceeded despite
public apprehension. ... Many questions remain. Did the test really
fail, as the military tells us, or is this information, which
contradicts initial reports of a success, meant to downplay the
importance of the test and ensure that cross-strait talks on
economic liberalization can continue apace?"


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