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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Beef Imports to Taiwan

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1315 3100949
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060949Z NOV 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2646
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9476
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0890

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001315

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. BEEF IMPORTS TO TAIWAN

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage November 6 on the earthquake that struck Nantou County on
Thursday evening, on the breakout of H1N1 swine flu on a pig farm in
Taitung, which was the first case of man-to-pig infection in Taiwan;
and on Premier Wu Den-yih's relationship with a convicted felon.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column by a local
well-known radio host and an op-ed by DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming
in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" both alleged that a joint
statement released by the Office of the United States Trade
Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was a
warning to the Ma Ying-jeou administration over the Ma
administration's use of administrative measures to ban risky U.S.
beef products. The two articles questioned the effectiveness and
legitimacy of those administrative means. Those measures might hurt
the Ma administration's credibility as well, said the two articles.
End summary.

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A) "Cleaning Up the Mess Left by a Wrongdoing and Incompetent
Government"

DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming wrote an op-ed in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (11/6):

"... In fact, the Executive Yuan's administrative measures [to ban
the import of risky U.S. beef products] have [drawn] a warning by
the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). [USTR and USDA]
stated that the [Taiwan government's] moves have violated a protocol
signed between Taiwan and the United States. The legislature's move
to revise the law [the Act Governing Food Sanitation] and the
signature drive to hold a referendum [which would require the
government to renegotiate the beef deal with the United States] are
actually more legitimate than using administrative means to bar [the
import of risky U.S. beef products] and less susceptible to trade
retaliation by opponents. On the contrary, [the Ma administration's
move to] unilaterally use administrative measures to limit [U.S.
beef imports] after singing the protocol ... [violates] the protocol
it signed. The [Ma administration's use of these] measures is like
openly cheating another signatory state and is more likely to be
questioned. ..."

B) "Beef Bones, Beef Offal, and Beef Slaughterhouse"

Jaw Shao-kong, a radio program host, wrote in his column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (11/6):

"... The [Ma Ying-jeou] government's 'administrative measures,'
especially thawing U.S. beef offal and ground beef for examination,
are bad tricks, dirty tricks and absolutely vile tricks that are
neither open nor aboveboard at all. The government should be frank
and upright, rather than playing shameful tricks. ... The [Ma]
government was complacent, and thought that it had attended to every
detail by meeting the Americans' request as well as echoing the
public opinion in Taiwan. It [the Ma government] even claimed that
it has obtained a tacit understanding with Americans and had
Americans' understanding [on the administrative measures]. ... I
saw the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the
Secretary of United States Department of Agriculture saying that
they want to review whether the measures that Taiwan imposed on
imported [U.S. beef] are consistent with the protocol and other
international guidelines; whether [the measures] would limit Taiwan
consumers' right of choice and therefore prevent the people of
Taiwan from eating the American beef and beef products that
Americans have been eating.

"If opening [Taiwan's market] is equivalent to not opening [Taiwan's
market] and [you are] letting the Americans down in the end, do you
think the Americans would let it go at that? According to [American
Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director] William Stanton's style, would
he just laugh the matter off?

"It was originally said that opening [Taiwan's market] to U.S. beef
spinal cords and beef offal would get three major things in return
[from the United States], which are a free trade agreement, the F-16
C/D fighter jets and the visa-waiver treatment for the people of
Taiwan. Now, [the Ma administration] wants to use 'administrative
measures' plus thawing Americans' beef. How can [the Ma
administration] get [anything] in return in the future? ..."

STANTON

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