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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations, U.S. Beef Imports

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1503/01 3511000
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171000Z DEC 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2972
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9578
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0965

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001503

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: CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS, U.S. BEEF IMPORTS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage December 17 on the fourth round of cross-Strait
negotiations, which is scheduled to be held in Taichung from
December 22 to December 24; on cross-Strait relations; and on the
new Secretary-General of the KMT and DPP, respectively. In terms of
editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" discussed two opinion surveys conducted recently on
cross-Strait relations. The article said the surveys showed that it
is the will of the Taiwan people to move from the current status of
maintaining the status quo to independence, which is opposite to
Ma's goal of ultimate unification with China. An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" also said Ma does
not have the authority to determine Taiwan's future. With regard to
U.S. beef imports, an editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" said now that the DPP
has won the December 5 local elections, all the controversy caused
by the Taiwan government's decision to open its market to U.S. beef
and beef products should come to an end. End summary.

2. Cross-Strait Relations

A) "Poll Survey Figures Talk -- Opposition to China's Annexation"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 680,000]
editorialized (12/17):

"... Judging from the [recent] poll surveys done by 'CommonWealth'
magazine and National Taiwan University, one can easily tell that it
is indeed the will of the Taiwan people to maintain the status quo
[for the time being] and then move toward independence. To sum up,
it is the choice made by the majority of the Taiwan people to move
from the current status of maintaining [Taiwan's] independent
sovereignty to [becoming] a completely normalized country. In other
words, moving from the current [status] of de facto independence to
de jure independence is the only road that the leader of Taiwan, a
democratic country that puts the democratic rights in the hands of
its people, must do in order to carry out the will of his people.
...

"... If 'no unification' and 'no independence' weigh equally in Ma's
heart, shouldn't he respect the will of the Taiwan people and
thereby create a climate favorable for carrying out the will of his
people? The fact that Ma constantly bears ultimate unification in
mind and is thinking of the one-China common market all the time is
sufficient to prove that he stands on the opposite side of the
[Taiwan] people's will; Ma's will is to unify [with China]. ..."

B) "Ma Remains Oblivious to the Public"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (12/17):

"Rushing to respond to President Ma Ying-jeou's recent interview
with the Wall Street Journal in which he was quoted as supporting a
timetable of 10 years for Taiwan and China to consider unification,
the Presidential Office on Tuesday said that the president had been
misquoted. ... The crux of the controversy is: What gives Ma the
authority to set a timetable of any duration for Taiwanese to
consider unification with China? The decision on Taiwan's future --
be it independence, unification or the 'status quo' -- lies in the
hands of Taiwanese. It is not a subject that the Taiwanese people
have authorized the president to decide unilaterally, nor a subject
that should be influenced by what people on the other side of the
Strait believe. During campaigning and when delivering major
speeches, Ma often states that 'Taiwan's future should be decided by
its 23 million people.' This wording sounds democratic and shows
respect for the idea that Taiwanese should determine the country's
fate. Ma's remarks in the Wall Street Journal interview, however,
confirm that he wants eventual unification with China. ..."

3. U.S. Beef Imports

"Is the Beef War Finally Coming to an End?"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (12/17):

"Now that the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has won
the important local elections, the beef war, triggered by the
conclusion of a protocol signed on Oct. 22 for importation of bovine
products that may cause spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow
disease, seems to be coming to an end. ... The opposition party
gathered 129,065 signatures to have its referendum proposal
endorsed. But it's going to be very difficult to collect more than
seven times as many for the second round -- at the request of the
commission -- to have the referendum adopted. By far the great
majority of people on Taiwan are non-beef eaters. They have no fear
of infection because they don't eat beef and will stay away from the
polls. None of the six referendums called in 2004 and last year
were validated because less than half of the eligible voters took
part due to lack of interest. ...

"All this means the amendments will be deliberated on and a
compromise may be adopted before the Legislative Yuan adjourns for
the winter in February next year. The opposition would be happy to
negotiate a compromise with the ruling party, its legislative caucus
whip said. The amendments would ban risky imports, but do not
entail renegotiation of the protocol, which KMT lawmaker Hwang
Yih-jiau, who proposed one amendment, said can be overridden by
legislation. It's time to end the totally unnecessary war so that
both the KMT and the opposition party may get on with their
respective campaign for the mayoral elections in five special
municipalities, three of them newly created. ..."

STANTON

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