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


DE RUEHIN #1254/01 2950913
R 220913Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage October 22 on the developments in cross-Strait relations,
on local political issues, and on the complaints over some "odd"
training approaches adopted at a local cram school. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" discussed what the
paper believes to be Taiwan's "poorly equipped" and "poorly
disciplined" air force. The article said that, given the lack of
discipline in Taiwan's air force, the Ministry of National Defense
had better "cancel any purchase of advanced fighter-interceptors
from the United States to alleviate the drain on the national
coffers." An op-ed in the KMT-leaning, China-focused "Want Daily"
discussed the possibility of a peace agreement across the Taiwan
Strait. The article said, judging from what the Ma Ying-jeou
administration has been saying lately, Ma is not really interested
in negotiating a peace agreement with Beijing. End summary.

A) "Poorly Equipped Air Force Is Equally Poorly Disciplined"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (10/22):

"... As a matter of fact, any poorly disciplined air force, or any
fighting force for that matter, can't fight. Taiwan's air force is
already no match for its opposite number in the People's Liberation
Army. We used to have air superiority over the Taiwan Strait. We
have long since lost it, for we are not adequately armed and
equipped. Time was when our fighters shot down all MiG fighters of
the PLA air force before, during and after the Quemoy Crisis of
August 23, 1958. And we never lost a plane! Well, that's the
reason why Taiwan has been trying to buy F16-D fighters from the
United States. The Pentagon has hesitated to sell the highly
sophisticated warplanes to us, however.

"Perhaps for good reason. The U.S. top brass must have known our
poorly equipped air force is equally poorly disciplined. In that
case, whatever advanced type of fighters we have would simply end up
a mass of scrap iron when hostilities break out between the two
sides of the Strait. Of course, no war is likely between Taiwan and
China. One thing the Ministry of National Defense should do is to
cancel any purchase of advanced fighter-interceptors from the United
States to alleviate the drain on the national coffers. Taiwan is in
a dire financial strait. We cannot afford expensive warplanes which
are most likely to stay on the ground in time of war."

B) "Ma Ying-jeou Says No to a [Cross-Strait] Peace Pact?"

Professor Chang Ya-chung from National Taiwan University's
Department of Political Science opined in the KMT-leaning,
China-focused "Want Daily" [circulation: 10,000] (10/22):

"Establishing mutual trust are the words that [Chinese President] Hu
Jintao has constantly talked about over the past year, and they are
listed at the top of his 16-character guideline on cross-Strait
relations. All these showed the significance of these words to
Beijing. Politically speaking, 'establishing mutual trust' includes
two main issues: namely, a peace accord and a military
confidence-building mechanism. One day prior to [President] Ma
Ying-jeou's doubling as the KMT chairman, Chao Chun-shan, Chairman
of the Foundation on Asia-Pacific Peace Studies, a peripheral
organization of the National Security Council, clearly indicated
that Taiwan must complete 'three preparations' before it engages in
political dialogue with mainland China. Such remarks can be viewed
as a clear statement from the [Taiwan] government, telling Beijing
that currently there is no chance for political dialogue [across the
Taiwan Strait]. ...

"The 'three preparations' remark indicates that Ma has again stated
his position [on cross-Strait relations], except that two more
preconditions have been added -- namely, 'reaching an internal
consensus [in Taiwan] (including 'not ruling out [the possibility
of] launching a referendum [on cross-Strait political talks]), and
winning acceptance [of the political talks] by the international
community. Such a message was akin to clearly telling Beijing that
now is the time to put on hold for the time being the calls for
peace negotiations! Given this, the public should be able to more
accurately interpret Ma's current mainland policy, namely,
'economics only, and no politics.'

"The move to hand over the prerequisites for a cross-Strait peace
agreement and a military confidence-building mechanism to the
[Taiwan] people and the United States is clearly another way of
saying 'No' [to Beijing]. ... If the Republic of China is a nation,
a [true] entity, how can it possibly put the interests of the United
States and Japan as a prerequisite [for cross-Strait relations]?
[Actually,] in Ma's mind, the principal [priority] is 'arms
procurement, the United States, and [winning the] elections;' the
so-called cross-Strait peace pact is nothing but lip service. Here
we have to ask, with only trade and economic exchanges and no peace

accord, will it be possible to resolve the core problems between the
two sides of the Taiwan Strait? Will it really meet Taiwan's
interests if [we] simply dodge sensitive issues? We are concerned
that time is not necessarily on Taiwan's side. How many bargaining
chips will we be able to have while waiting to be forced into talks
for a peace agreement?"


© Scoop Media

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