Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
DE RUEHIN #1470/01 3451137
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111137Z DEC 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2937
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9575
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0963
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001470
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
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage December 11 on the 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 from
December 22-24; on possible U.S. arms sales to Taiwan; and on the
aftermath of the December 5 city mayors' and county magistrates'
elections around the island. The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" ran
a banner headline on page three, reading "The United States Planning
to Sell Taiwan Black Hawk Helicopters; Will Likely Refuse to Sell
the F16 Fighter Jets, and PAC-3 Missiles Are under Review." The
pro-independence "Liberty Times" also ran a banner headline on page
two, reading "United States Reportedly Will Sell Weapons to Taiwan;
Submarine Deal Coming back to Life."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, two op-ed pieces in the
"Apple Daily" discussed an article written by William A. Owens, a
retired admiral of U.S. navy, who suggested that Washington abandon
its military support for Taiwan and abolish the Taiwan Relations
Act, in an attempt to pursue broader cooperation with China
economically and strategically. Both articles said that China is
using its lobbying efforts and influence to encourage the United
States to "dig up Taiwan's roots" in the United States. End
A) "China Is Digging up Taiwan's Roots in the United States"
The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 530,000]
"In the wake of President Barack Obama's visit to Beijing, AIT Board
[sic] Chairman Raymond Burghardt came to Taiwan to brief [the island
on Obama's visit], pledging that the United States will continue to
abide by the 'Taiwan Relations Act' (TRA) and assist Taiwan to
strengthen its national capabilities. President Ma said after his
meeting with Burghardt that [what Burghardt told him] was
'consistent' with what he had anticipated, and that now is the best
time for U.S.-China-Taiwan relations in the past six decades. ...
As for Ma's statement that Burghardt's briefing met his
anticipation, there are two possible [explanations]: It is either
that Burghardt reassured [Ma] about the U.S. commitment to Taiwan's
security, which was within Ma's expectations, or Burghardt, speaking
on behalf of Obama, expressed hope that both sides of the Taiwan
Strait would unify with each other peacefully, or at least not
confront each other -- a development also consistent with Ma's views
about Taiwan's ultimate destiny.
"If such clues are still unable to wake up Ma's team to sense the
danger Taiwan is facing, then a look at an article by William A.
Owens, a retired admiral of the U.S. Navy, -- 'The United States
Must Start Seeing China as a Friend' -- may [help it understand
better]. ... Does this indicate that a pro-China force, with the
encouragement of China, is attempting to abolish the TRA? The
reason [behind it] is that the current situation and development of
the United States should not be trapped by an old law made thirty
years ago. Besides, U.S. cooperation with China is [one of]
Washington's major interests, and it is not worthwhile to sacrifice
those interests just for the minor interests of Taiwan.
"The latest news was that the United States will likely agree to
sell Black Hawk helicopters and PAC-3 missiles [to Taiwan] and has
turned down the deal for F-16 C/D fighter jets. This indicated that
Obama continues to adhere to the TRA and sell weapons to Taiwan, but
in the meantime it also takes into consideration China's feelings.
Though these may not be frontline weapons, the symbolic meaning [of
the move] is sufficient to give Taiwan bargaining chips and
confidence to talk with China. In addition, it also explains why Ma
did not adopt a passive and resistant attitude toward arms sales
just so that it can curry favor with China.
"The Ma administration is quite pleased with itself about its
diplomatic truce [policy]. China, on the other hand, does not care
about it at all, because it is quietly digging up Taiwan's roots in
the United States via its lobbying groups. Washington does not need
to abolish the TRA; all it has to do is to gradually reduce its arms
sales to Taiwan, and there will be limited options left for Taiwan.
[We] hope Ma's national security team will notice the dangerous
tendency of the United States and strengthen the intensity of its
lobbying efforts in the United States."
B) "China Wants to Eradicate the 'Taiwan Relations Act'"
Fu S. Mei, the Director of Taiwan Security Analysis Center, opined
in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 530,000]
"On the same day when the 'Obama-Hu' joint statement was published,
retired U.S. Navy Admiral William A. Owens wrote an article in the
'Financial Times' calling on the United States to abandon its
military support for Taiwan and abolish the Taiwan Relations Act
(TRA), in an attempt to pursue broader and deepened economic and
strategic cooperation with China. ... Though it is still difficult
for the mainstream thinking in the U.S. government to accept Owens'
ideas, the 'Sanya Initiative' [established by former Hong Kong
governor C.H. Tung] has exposed the fact that a new and vigorous
lobbying model China has adopted toward the United States on the
Taiwan issue is quickly taking shape. Beijing is proactively
building up the strength, scope, flexibility and vigor of its
lobbying in the United States via all kinds of channels, and its
method of 'using business to win over politics' has increasingly
become its major means. The TRA, which serves as a cornerstone for
stability across the Taiwan Strait, has become the first important
target that Beijing is lobbying to repudiate.
"In the face of such a challenge, the [Taiwan] government should
attach more importance to efforts highlighting the island's
sovereignty and the government's determination to safeguard its
sovereignty. Even though cross-Strait relations have seen some
improvements, [Taiwan] must not give the outside world the
impression that it is 'no longer fighting against China's attempt to
unify or annex Taiwan.' ... In such a vein, Taipei should
proactively propose to Washington bilateral cooperation on a new
strategic level, which does not need to be limited to arms sales or
[maintaining] the traditional military balance. Taiwan can further
propose that it participate in efforts assisting the United States
in areas outside of East Asia. Senior U.S. officials said the U.S.
government and military were both very grateful for Taiwan's
generous assistance in the U.S. war on terrorism in the wake of the
September 11 tragedy. The fact that Washington immediately sent its
frigates and helicopters to provide rescue assistance to Taiwan in
the wake of Typhoon Morakot can be viewed as a result of Taiwan's
long-term cultivation [of its relations with the United States]. As
a result, the [Taiwan] government should attach great importance to
sustainable cultivation [of its relations with the United States]
and thereby accumulate strategic leverage for its future talks with