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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. And Asia, U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

VZCZCXYZ0014
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1259/01 2960955
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230955Z OCT 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2535
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9446
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0860

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001259

SIPDIS

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: U.S. AND ASIA, U.S. ARMS SALES TO TAIWAN

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage October 23 on Taiwan re-opening its market to U.S. bone-in
beef; on the turmoil inside the ruling KMT over the alleged bribery
in the party's recent Central Standing Committee elections; and on
the Taiwan military's plan to mothball the Mirage fighter jets in
light of their poor performance and high maintenance costs. All
major Chinese-language and English-language papers reported on AIT
Director William Stanton's first press conference on Thursday, in
which he addressed major issues concerning the United States and
Taiwan and U.S.-China-Taiwan relations.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed the declining U.S.
influence in Asia and urged Taiwan to make necessary assessments and
adjustments accordingly. A column in the KMT-leaning "China Times"
discussed the United States' relations with Seoul and Pyongyang and
said the possibility for bilateral talks between Washington and
Pyongyang has "[increased.]" A "China Times" op-ed discussed the
long-stalled U.S. submarine sale to Taiwan. The article said
whether the United States will sell Taiwan its long-awaited F16 C/D
fighter jets following U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to China
in November will be an important indicator for the submarine deal.
End summary.

3. U.S. and Asia

A) "The United States Is Not a Tourist in Asia?"

Columnist Antonio Chiang wrote in his column in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (10/23):

"The U.S. Secretary of Defense visited Asia a few days ago, talking
to Seoul about the transfer of wartime force command, and to Tokyo
about moving the Okinawa Futenma base. New difficulties have arisen
in these two old issues, and the United States' Asia strategy has
also shown evident changes. ... A U.S. scholar emphasized in a
seminar held last week [Ed. Note: The seminar refers to an AIT
roundtable with the Center for a New American Security scholars in
Taipei on October 9.] that the United States will not leave Asia,
because 'the United States has tens of bases in Asia. We are
residents, not tourists. We will not just leave here on a whim.'
But it is an undeniable fact that the U.S. influence in Asia is
gradually declining. Taiwan thus needs to make necessary
assessments [to this development] and adjust itself accordingly."

B) "U.S. and South Korean Officials [Exchange Words Indirectly]"

The "International Lookout" column in the KMT-leaning "China Times"
[circulation: 120,000] wrote (10/22):

"... Judging from a series of new U.S. policies toward North Korea,
it is obvious that Washington intends to adopt a softer approach
[toward Pyongyang]. Despite the fact that Washington continues to
claim firmly that the Six-Party talks ought to be maintained, just
to save Tokyo's and Seoul's faces, [the possibility for] bilateral
talks between Washington and Pyongyang has [increased]. Seoul's
policy has zero influence on the United States' position, and once
the U.S. position alters, [South Korean President] Lee Myung-bak
will be put in an embarrassing situation. The South Korean
government is of course aware that such a situation may happen, so
it has quietly modified its policy. ...

"The 'Chosun IIbo' quoted official 'sources' as saying that 'in
consideration of the alleviated tension between Seoul and Pyongyang,
it is very likely that both sides will conduct talks in the long
run, so that a summit will be held in the future." Such a gesture
is like what high-ranking U.S. officials usually do in putting out
words, which always carries a sense of warning: 'If you ignore my
position, I will do likewise.' What Washington fears most is
another summit between Seoul and Pyongyang. It is thus quite
interesting to see how Washington and Seoul exchange words with each
other [indirectly.]"

4. U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

"Terminate the Budget for the U.S. Navy's Program Executive Office,
Submarines."

Wang Jyh-perng, a reserve navy caption, opined in the KMT-leaning
"China Times" [circulation 120,000] (10/22):

"... The interdependent relations formed between the economies of
the United States and China and the United States' expectations for
China's [cooperation on] anti-terrorism and global environmental
issues have constituted the external structural factors for Taiwan's
purchase of submarines [from the United States]. The ruling KMT
party's unwillingness to spend a huge amount of money in just buying
submarines at the time when cross-Strait ties are stable has become
an internal critical factor [for the submarine deal]. In addition,

there is this long-standing position on the U.S. Navy's side, which
does not want to set up a manufacturing line in the United States
just to be able to sell the diesel fueled submarines to Taiwan, and
the Navy is concerned that the U.S. submarine-building technology
will be leaked to China. ... All these factors showed that the
chances are very slim for Taiwan's navy to obtain the submarines via
the channel of U.S. arms sales. ...

"When U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy visited China
in June, China again requested that the United States cease its arms
sales to Taiwan, and it saw the sales as one of the major hurdles in
its bilateral ties with the United States. Whether [Washington]
will sell [Taiwan] the F16 C/D fighter jets, which has been stalled
for three years, following U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to
China in November will be an important indicator showing [us]
whether the United States will keep on pushing for the submarine
deal that has been shelved for eight years."

STANTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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