Cablegate: Media Reaction: President Obama's China Visit, President
DE RUEHIN #1416/01 3360952
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020952Z DEC 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2844
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9552
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0945
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001416
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/P, EAP/PD - THOMAS HAMM
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CHINA VISIT, PRESIDENT
OBAMA'S ADDRESS ON AFGHANISTAN
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage December 2 on the city mayors' and county magistrates'
elections around the island, which are scheduled to be held on
December 5, and on the sudden resignation of Japan's representative
to Taiwan. Several papers also reported on U.S. President Barack
Obama's scheduled address at West Point Wednesday morning to reveal
his plan for Afghanistan.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed President Obama's recent
visit to China and said few people, not even AIT Chairman Raymond
Burghardt, really understand the whole picture of Obama's China
visit. An op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times," written by former AIT Chairman Nat Bellocchi, urged
Washington to "make crystal clear that Taiwan's sovereignty and
territorial integrity should not be infringed upon in any way, so
that the people of Taiwan can make a free decision on their future."
A separate "Taipei Times" op-ed also discussed Obama's first trip
to China, saying that "what he did achieve looks superficial, while
what he gave up seems substantial." With regard to President
Obama's address on Afghanistan Wednesday morning, a column in the
KMT-leaning "China Times" described it as Obama's most important
address on the United States' foreign affairs and national security
and his most controversial policy declaration since he assumed
office. The article lamented that, even though Obama's campaign
slogan was "change," his Afghanistan policy showed that all he can
do is follow the course laid down by his predecessor. End summary.
3. President Obama's China Visit
A) "Taiwan Card, Iran Card"
James Tu, the publisher of "Apple Daily," wrote in his column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 540,000] (12/2):
"[U.S. President Barack] Obama's [recent] trip to China was
ridiculed by the U.S. media as having returned [to the United
States] empty-handed, but, as it stands now, it may not necessarily
be the case. During an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
meeting held in Geneva last Friday on how to deal with Iran's
nuclear programs, both China and Russia voted in favor of censuring
Iran. ... The outside world knows very little about the details of
Obama's visit to China, and many of the talks are still in progress;
even AIT Board [sic] Chairman Raymond Burghardt may not be able to
grasp the whole picture. Even though China agrees that the IAEA
should censure Iran now, it does not mean it will agree with the
United Nations to impose sanctions against Iran, or the way the
United States and Europe will impose those sanctions in the future.
But judging from the fact that Obama's attitude toward Iran has
turned anxious and impatient, and from the change in China's policy,
there is no reason for Taiwan to feel good about itself. One cannot
help but sweat over the new round of haggling between Washington and
B) "What Was Said and What Should Have Been"
Nat Bellocchi, former AIT Chairman and a special adviser of the
Liberty Times Group, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (12/2):
"US President Barack Obama's trip to China continues to be the
subject of hot debate in Western media. ... The Obama team seems to
have been too eager to 'create a positive atmosphere' to encourage
China to go along on a number of undeniably important issues, such
as global warming, environmental protection, North Korea and Iran.
In doing so, it allowed the Chinese leaders to outmaneuver the
Americans. This occurred not only in terms of information control
surrounding public events -- such as the 'town hall meeting' with a
programmed audience of Communist League Youth members in Shanghai --
but also in terms of substantial issues relating to both Tibet, East
Turkestan and Taiwan.
"For Taiwan, the biggest setback of the visit was the mention in the
US-China Joint Statement of 'sovereignty and territorial integrity.'
Chinese President Hu Jintao said during the joint press conference
that the Chinese side appreciated the statements by Obama that 'the
US side ... respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity
when it comes to the Taiwan question and other matters.' Not
unexpectedly, government-controlled Chinese media, such as Xinhua
news agency and the China Daily, immediately reported that Obama
recognizes China's sovereignty and territorial integrity on Taiwan
and other issues. If that is what Beijing believes was said, the
Obama administration may want to clarify that this is in direct
contradiction of US policy, which holds that Taiwan's status must be
determined peacefully and with the assent/consent of Taiwanese. That
is the essence of what was laid down in 1979 in the Taiwan Relations
Act (TRA) and in 1982 in the Six Assurances. The problem is that
there is significant tension between the TRA and the Three
OBAMA'S ADDRESS ON AFGHANISTAN
Communiqus, the main one being that the TRA represents the US side
of the deal as prescribed by Congress, while the Three Communiqus
represent what China wanted.
"In light of the changing situation in Asia, how the US deals with a
small, democratic Taiwan on the one side and an increasingly
assertive -- and important -- giant on the other will require
careful planning. It would be a grave mistake, however, if we
allowed Taiwan's existence as a free and democratic country to be
held hostage or to be whittled away by the rulers in Beijing.
Taiwanese have worked hard to achieve their democracy. It is
essential that the US make crystal clear that Taiwan's sovereignty
and territorial integrity should not be infringed upon in any way,
so that the people of Taiwan can make a free decision on their
C) "Obama Was Outwitted by Beijing"
Zhang Wei, a lecturer in Chinese economy at Cambridge University,
opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (12/2):
"US President Barack Obama's first trip to China was like a splendid
stage play. The performance was long rehearsed in both Washington
and Beijing, because both governments needed at least the appearance
of a successful visit. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) needed
Obama's unequivocal endorsement of China's increasingly important
international role in order to buttress its domestic legitimacy.
The US needed China's cooperation to demonstrate the effectiveness
of Obama's new strategy of collaborative global leadership. Now
that the play is over and the applause has died down, it is time to
check the balance sheet and see how much Obama achieved and how much
"On the positive side of the ledger, Obama received ceremonial
treatment not normally accorded to visiting foreign leaders, even
other visiting US presidents, demonstrating the importance China's
government attached to the visit. ... Obama also initially appeared
to make some progress in giving voice to the universal values of
human rights and democracy. He met with students in Shanghai in his
favorite 'town hall' format, which allowed for face-to-face
discussions with young Chinese. Moreover, China's government
allowed the Nanfang Zhoumo, the country's most liberal newspaper, to
conduct a 12-minute exclusive interview with Obama. ...
"And the negative side of the ledger? Obama gave up two things that
have usually been at the top of the agenda when US presidents meet
with Chinese leaders. First, Obama did not openly criticize the
Chinese government's notorious human rights record, nor did he use
his influence to persuade China to release any prisoner of
conscience, as his US predecessors always did when visiting the
country. ... Second, Obama did not seriously seek to resolve
existing US-China economic disagreements, particularly over trade.
... So, on balance, Obama's first trip to China achieved relatively
little. Moreover, what he did achieve looks superficial, while what
he gave up seems substantial. Of course, this is partly because of
the changes in the relative economic and political power of the US
and China over the past decade, and especially during the current
global economic crisis. However, the sizable deficit on the balance
sheet of Obama's China trip could have been much lower if Obama had
paid more attention to substance. It seems that Hu is more skillful
than the polished Obama at maximizing his gains at little cost."
4. President Obama's Address on Afghanistan
"Sorrow of Obama"
Columnist Lin Po-wen wrote in the KMT-leaning "China Times"
[circulation: 120,000] (12/2):
"Following more than two months' deliberation and ten high-ranking
military meetings, [U.S. President Barack] Obama finally drew out
his sword and decided to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to
Afghanistan, increasing the total number of U.S. soldiers in
Afghanistan to 100,000. Obama chose to deliver his speech on
sending more troops [to Afghanistan] at West Point, instead of
hiding behind the Oval Office in the White House and talking to
himself in front of the camera, because this is his most important
address on U.S. foreign affairs and national security and his most
controversial policy declaration since he took over the helm. He
needs [to deliver it at] a historical site, and by speaking to
thousands of students and soldiers, he will be able to bring his
articulateness into full play and achieve the highest goal of
convincing the American people.
"One can tell Obama's personality, mentality and his limitations
from his lengthy decision-making process. During his campaign,
Obama rolled out the most resounding and attractive slogan --
OBAMA'S ADDRESS ON AFGHANISTAN
'change' to the voters. But when it comes to his Afghanistan
policy, it has ruthlessly been demonstrated that he is unable to
'change;' all he can do is follow the course laid down by his
predecessor, or even adding more mistakes to it. Just like [former
U.S.] President Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War era, who
allowed the commanders on the frontline of the battle, the Pentagon
and a bunch of hawks to lead him by the nose, this [decision] will
be the sorrow for Obama and a tragedy for the United States. ....
"... The dove presidential candidate, Obama, has transformed into
hawk President Obama, who would rather offend the liberals, most of
whom are anti-war, and a few anti-war conservatives than seek
'change' in the Afghanistan battlefield. All he can do is to add
more [mess] to the mess left behind by [President George W.] Bush
and [Vice President Dick] Cheney by continuing to send young
Americans to die in the gloomy valleys of Central Asia. Obama
stressed that he is sending more troops in exchange for gradually
withdrawing the U.S. military from the battlefield. This is just
daydreaming -- the United States will only send more U.S. troops [to
Afghanistan] and get stuck, and more U.S. soldiers will die.
"The United States has spent one trillion U.S. dollars in Iraq, and
it will cost Washington at least 300 billion U.S. dollars each year
for the war in Afghanistan. The United States, which is suffering
from the economic downturn and rising unemployment rates, will very
likely be pulled down by the war in Afghanistan. ... The United
States is stuck in the meaningless quagmire of the Afghanistan war,
while China, India and Brazil are developing their economies with
all their strength. It is no wonder that the U.S. national strength
has been slipping downhill, and Obama is just another pushover that
only engages in empty talk!"