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Cablegate: Director's Meeting with Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu

VZCZCXRO7812
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHHM
DE RUEHIN #1397/01 3290348
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 250348Z NOV 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2805
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9532
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0032
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 4765
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 2678
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 3229
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 7172
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0368
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0929
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0728

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 001397

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

BANGKOK FOR OFDA

DEPT FOR AIT/W, EAP/TC, INR/EAP

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON EAID EINV SENV TW
SUBJECT: DIRECTOR'S MEETING WITH KAOHSIUNG MAYOR CHEN CHU

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

1. (SBU) Summary: In her November 18 meeting with Director
Stanton, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu reiterated familiar DPP themes,
maintaining that the KMT was rolling back Taiwan's democracy and
using the judiciary to persecute the DPP. Mayor Chen chided
President Ma for tilting too far toward China and called on the U.S.
to help support Taiwan's democracy. She highlighted Kaohsiung
City's low-key approach to U.S. beef, stating that the DPP's main
concern was the Ma administration's lack of transparency. Facing a
tough 2010 reelection challenge, Mayor Chen has been working to win
over wavering deep-Green voters in the city. With the Mayor's
prominence increasing among DPP supporters island-wide, a reelection
win could pave the way for a Presidential run in 2012. End
summary.

2. (SBU) During his November 18 visit to Kaohsiung, Director
Stanton co-hosted the Megaports commissioning ceremony at Kaohsiung
Port, officially opened the American Corner at Kaohsiung's Baochu
Public Library and paid a courtesy call on Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu.
DPP Mayor Chen had just returned to Kaohsiung from a round of
campaigning for DPP candidates throughout Taiwan in the run up to
December's local elections. Riding a wave of positive reviews among
DPP supporters for her handling of the 2009 World Games in
Kaohsiung, her open embrace of the Dalai Lama's September visit to
southern Taiwan, and her insistence on screening a Rebiya Kadeer
documentary in the city, Mayor Chen has been increasingly in demand
island-wide to stump for the party.

DPP: KMT Degrading Taiwan's Democracy
-------------------------------------

3. (SBU) In a pre-meeting photo spray with some 20 local reporters,
Mayor Chen offered brief opening remarks, stating to the Director
that Taiwan and the U.S. shared similar values. She recounted the
DPP's long struggle to promote human rights in Taiwan and voiced her
hope that Taiwan would never return to the days of martial law when
basic rights were constantly at risk. Alluding to her view that the
KMT government was rolling back Taiwan's democracy, she stressed
that Taiwan should be able to enjoy living in a democratic society
which fully respected human rights. She thanked the Director for
the U.S.'s longstanding support for Taiwan and expressed her
determination to ensure the safety and well-being of all Americans
in Kaohsiung.

4. (SBU) After the press departed, Mayor Chen pressed her point
that the KMT was degrading Taiwan's democracy. She said that the
DPP wanted to keep close relations with the U.S. because it believed
the U.S. would help Taiwan protect its freedom and democracy. She
acknowledged that the DPP's 2008 Presidential election defeat was
the "people's choice" and that Chen Shui-bian and his family's
corruption had contributed to the loss. She maintained, however,
that the KMT had been using the judiciary to suppress the DPP and
expressed doubt that former President Chen would receive a fair
hearing.

Mayor Chen: Ma Too Tilted Towards China
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Criticizing President Ma's cross-Strait policy as tilting
too far toward China, Mayor Chen maintained that the DPP wanted to
pursue a positive dialogue with China but would not allow China to
"destroy Taiwan." She criticized China's boycott of Kaohsiung over
the Rebiya Kadeer film showing, stating that China was treating
Taiwan like a "little brother" and undermining its freedom of
expression. China favored President Ma and the KMT, she continued,
but President Ma still had an obligation to uphold Taiwan's values
and dignity. If Taiwan signed an Economic Cooperation Framework
Agreement(ECFA) with China, she worried, Taiwan's sovereignty would
suffer.

6. (SBU) Mayor Chen noted that Taiwan's KMT martial law-era
government had imprisoned her for more than two years for taking
part in pro-democracy demonstrations during the December 1979
Formosa Incident in Kaohsiung. December 2009 marked the Formosa
Incident's 30th anniversary, Chen related, and Kaohsiung planned to

TAIPEI 00001397 002 OF 002


mark the occasion with a large-scale event involving some 20,000
participants. Chen said she hoped the event would remind Taiwan's
citizens of the sacrifices made to promote Taiwan's democracy and
warn them of the dangers of relying too much on China. She called
on the U.S. to continue to abide by its commitments under the Taiwan
Relations Act and implored the U.S. not to "give up" a democratic
Taiwan.

Kaohsiung City Government: U.S. Beef OK
---------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Responding to the Director's defense of U.S. beef, Mayor
Chen mentioned that she had taken a low-key approach in Kaohsiung,
requesting only that local supermarkets clearly mark the country of
origin of beef on sale. Unlike Taipei City, she pointed out,
Kaohsiung had no problem with U.S. beef as long as it met Taiwan's
quality standards. Reiterating her personal opinion that U.S. beef
was "reliable," Chen insisted that the DPP did not want to undermine
U.S.-Taiwan relations over beef. The DPP's main concern, she
explained, was the Executive Yuan's non-transparent handling of the
issue and its unclear explanations to the public, which caused fear
among Taiwan's people.

Comment
-------

8. (SBU) Mayor Chen's remarks on Taiwan's democracy and President
Ma's cross-Strait policies are a familiar refrain in DPP circles.
In the run up to Kaohsiung's key 2010 Mayoral election, she will
likely tack to shore up and energize her support among the city's
deep-Green DPP faithful, who have expressed doubts about her
commitment to their cause. Mayor Chen's ability to consolidate her
base in the city is essential, as she now faces a tough primary
challenge from popular DPP Kaohsiung County Magistrate Yang
Chiu-hsing, who announced his candidacy for Mayor earlier this
month. While the two candidates have been cordial on the surface,
the mudslinging has already begun, with Yang denying a slew of
rumors allegedly floated by Chen's camp and DPP heavyweights,
including former DPP Presidential candidate Frank Hsieh, imploring
the two to lead "dignified" campaigns.

9. (SBU) Meanwhile, Mayor Chen's appeal as a DPP campaigner
throughout the island in this year's local elections has led many of
our DPP contacts to speculate that if Chen secures her reelection in
2010, she will run for President in 2012. One of Mayor Chen's
closest advisors suggested as much, telling the Director after the
meeting that Mayor Chen was interested in playing a "national role"
in Taiwan in the future.

CASTRO

STANTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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