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

VZCZCXYZ0011
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1449/01 3430931
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 090931Z DEC 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2898
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9570
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0959

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001449

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.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS, PRESIDENT
OBAMA'S ADDRESS ON AFGHANISTAN

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage December 9 on the U.S. beef issue, which was stalled at the
legislative sessions Tuesday due to a boycott by DPP legislators; on
the aftermath of the December 5 city mayors' and county magistrates'
elections around the island; and on the upcoming fourth round of
talks between Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and China's
Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait, which will be
held in Taichung. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed
in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" said the results of last
Saturday's local elections in Taiwan sent a clear and powerful
message to the Obama administration -- namely, the Taiwan people
have used their votes to check and balance the arrogance and
self-righteousness of their leader, and that the Obama
administration should pay more respect to Taiwan's democracy. A
column in the KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed U.S. President
Barack Obama's December 1 address on Afghanistan and concluded that
Obama is following the course laid down by his predecessor and still
wants to be the "head of the world's police." End summary.

2. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

"The Message That Taiwan People Send to Obama"

Liu Shih-chung, now a Visiting Fellow at the U.S.-based Brookings
Institution, opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation 520,000] (12/9):

"Through the results of last Saturday's three-in-one local city
mayors' and county magistrates' elections, a majority of the Taiwan
voters have sent a clear and powerful message to U.S. President
Barack Obama, who has just returned from a visit to China and signed
a controversial joint statement with Chinese President Hu Jintao:
Namely, Taiwan, being a small country, may be powerless and has no
intention to obstruct the United States' determined policy direction
to engage with the 'rising China.' But the most powerful way for
Taiwan to defend itself is to use its democratic votes to check and
balance the arrogance and self-righteousness of its ruler, and to
further influence the [government] policy balance and policy
direction.

"The most controversial part in the 'Obama-Hu' joint statement
concerning Taiwan is that it stated in black and white that the two
nations 'respect each other's sovereignty and territorial
integrity,' and 'look forward to efforts by both sides [of the
Taiwan Strait] to increase interactions in economic and political
fields.' The Ma Ying-jeou administration has a numb central nervous
system and thus always feels good about itself, but the DPP and many
of those who know the triangular relations among the United States,
China and Taiwan well have all expressed grave concerns. The Obama
administration soon sent AIT Board [sic] Chairman Raymond Burghardt
to Taiwan in an attempt to placate [the island] and clarify [the
episode] by stressing that what was referred to in the
afore-mentioned statement were Tibet and Xinjiang, not Taiwan. Yet
Beijing immediately reiterated to the international community that
Taiwan is part of China's sovereignty and its territorial integrity.
Burghardt further explained that the United States has no intention
to push both sides [of the Taiwan Strait] to engage in political
dialogue. Yet China, [on the other hand], has long since put
pressure on, and mapped out the course for political talks, in terms
of the Ma administration's cross-Strait policy thinking of
'economics ahead of politics.'

"Even though Burghardt was speaking on behalf of the U.S.
government, his audience was mostly from Taiwan's ruling and
opposition parties. Many people in the international community
would be easily misled by Beijing and believe that 'Washington
agrees or accepts that Taiwan is part of China's sovereignty and
territorial integrity.' Unless higher-ranking U.S. officials, such
as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or even Obama himself,
reiterate the public declaration made by former President Bill
Clinton in February 2000, that 'the future of both sides of the
Taiwan Strait must be determined with the consent of the Taiwan
people,' the pace for Washington to tilt toward Beijing will only
accelerate. ...

"[Saturday's] elections have also allowed the strategists of the
Obama administration on Asia-Pacific policy, who have been feeling
relaxed about the relatively stable cross-Strait relations now, to
finally accept the fact that Ma can be defeated. The Ma
administration's means of constantly flattering the Obama
administration via diplomatic channels have also gradually ceased to
work, as shown by the fact that Taiwan's recent decision to re-open
its market to U.S. beef has triggered anti-U.S. sentiments on some
parts of the island. The Americans were puzzled why U.S. beef could
become a major issue in Taiwan's local elections. Ma's failure to
pass this 'mid-term examination' and the fact that the DPP has a
better chance to stage a comeback earlier than expected have drawn
closer attention of the U.S. strategists on Asia-Pacific policy as
OBAMA'S ADDRESS ON AFGHANISTAN

to whether Ma will adjust his cross-Strait policy in the future.

"The Obama administration should understand that cross-Strait
relations are not the only or major factor for Taiwan voters to
determine the ability of their leaders. Ma has invested many
resources in opening and managing cross-Strait relations since he
assumed office, and thereby allowed Washington, whose hands are
already full, not to worry too much [about cross-Strait tensions].
But the Obama administration must never overlook the values of
Taiwan's democracy or take the KMT's long-term governance or the
relatively stable cross-Strait relations for granted. The message
sent out by [Saturday's] elections is crystal clear -- namely, only
the [Taiwan] people are their masters; Obama should pay more respect
to the universal values of democracy and let the 'Taiwan people use
their votes to decide their future.'"

3. President Obama's Address on Afghanistan

"U.S. Foreign Policy -- Military Force as Its Vanguard"

Columnist Lin Po-wen wrote in his column in the KMT-leaning "China
Times" [circulation: 120,000] (12/9):

"... It is quite disappointing that Obama did not dare to break
tradition, and, like his predecessors, he still likes to be the
'world's policeman' and show off [the United States'] might. A
phrase that previous U.S. presidents like best is 'the foreign
policy propped up by military forces.' As a matter of fact, since
the Roosevelt administration at the beginning of the 20th century,
the United States has moved toward a 'foreign policy using its
military force as its vanguard' -- with carrot and stick together,
it is akin to typical imperialism. ...

"...The war in Afghanistan today has been labeled as 'Obama's war.'
Obama adopted the strategy to 'exit after sending more troops [to
the battlefield].' But the question is: Will [the United States]
be able to withdraw its troops eighteen months from now? How many
soldiers will it pull back and how many will stay [in Afghanistan]?
Will the undisciplined Afghan soldiers and policemen be able to
replace the U.S. troops and those of its allies? Many reasons
caused the defeat of [the United States in] the Vietnam War, and one
of them was the corruption and incompetence of the Saigon
government. ... Now that the United States has run into a worse
government of Karzai, how is it going to fight the war in
Afghanistan? Perhaps the ideas of 'permanent sense of crisis' and
'using military force as its vanguard' have been pushing Obama to
become the head of the 'world police.'"

STANTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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