Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Beef Imports
DE RUEHIN #1513/01 3550748
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210748Z DEC 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2987
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9581
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0968
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001513
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. BEEF IMPORTS
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused December
19-21 news coverage on preparations for the upcoming fourth round of
cross-Strait negotiations; the demonstration organized by the DPP to
protest cross-Strait negotiations and the Ma Ying-jeou
administration's China-leaning policy; and an earthquake registering
6.8 on the Richter scale on Saturday night. In terms of editorials
and commentaries, an op-ed in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
responded to a December 18 open letter by American Institute in
Taiwan (AIT) Director William Stanton on the safety of U.S. beef.
The op-ed, written by a PhD student who once publicly ate cattle
dung at a media event to express his opposition to the Ma
administration's decision to fully open Taiwan's market to U.S.
beef, praised Stanton's sincerity in communicating with the people
of Taiwan. However, the op-ed still expressed serious concerns
about the safety of U.S. beef and its impact on the health of human
beings. End summary.
"The Things that Director William Stanton Did Not Mention"
Chu Cheng-chi, who is a PhD student at the Graduate Institute of
Sociology at the National Taiwan University and consumed cattle
dung, opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [520,000]
"American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director William Stanton sent a
letter to media, trying to reassure the people of Taiwan's concerns
on U.S. beef. This move is praiseworthy and I believe that many
citizens of Taiwan could sense the great thought he has devoted to
the matter. At least, Director Stanton is more "progressive" than
Minister of Health Yaung Chih-liang. He [Director Stanton] is
willing to apologize publicly for his own out of tune remarks of
'scooters' [relating the risk rates of riding scooters in Taiwan and
eating U.S. beef] and willing to use scientific evidence as a basis
to provide public explanations. Looking back at Minister Yaung, who
uses populist approaches, such as committing hari-kari, asking the
citizens [of Taiwan] to eat beef from cattle under the age of thirty
months old and should not be picky [about the government's decision
on U.S. beef], eating U.S. beef is safer than crossing roads, and
constantly lying that 'not eating [U.S. beef] would be all right,
and hypocritically saying that he wanted to apologize to people who
love U.S. bone-in-beef, offal and ground beef.
"Since Director Stanton has the sincerity to communicate with the
people of Taiwan, I feel necessary to provide some additional
explanation for him to let the citizens have a full understanding,
based on the 'solid scientific basis,' about U.S. beef, 'to help you
make informed, confident decisions about the food you eat,' which is
a point on which I hold the same belief as Director Stanton.
Director Stanton said, 'there has never been a single proven case of
the human version of so-called 'Mad Cow' Disease caused by eating
American beef.' First of all, 'human beings' certainly do not
contract the mad 'cow' disease (BSE). Rather, it is the new variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) that occurred on cattle being
called mad cow disease. Of course there is no so-called 'mad cow
disease' on human beings. It is like 'the foot-and-mouth disease'
does not occur on human beings. Only 'hand, foot and mouth disease'
does. We believed that it was only Director Stanton's lapse of the
pen, unlike Minister Yaung, who once resorted to a sophistry that
'the United States was never an infected zone of the mad cow
disease' by saying that 'no human beings in the United States have
contracted mad cow disease.' Another point of Director Stanton's
remark in this paragraph was that, there has never been a single
'proven case' of the new vCJD by 'eating' U.S. beef.'
Scientifically, it is indeed unable to prove one hundred percent
that eating beef from cattle infected with mad cow disease would
result in new vCJD. Similarly, science is still unable to prove
that eating genetic modified food would cause harm to the human
beings. However, why do many countries still hold a reserved
attitude toward genetic modified food? ...
"Director Stanton also had one vague statement, which is, the 'World
Organization for Animal Health (OIE) supports the safety of U.S.
beef and beef products.' Precisely speaking, the OIE's
differentiation on mad cow disease is not by 'the infected zone' or
'the disease-free zone.' Rather, it is by 'undetermined BSE risk
zone', 'controlled BSE risk zone,' and 'negligible BSE risk zone.'
The United States belongs to the 'controlled BSE risk zone.' As a
result, U.S. beef, under certain slaughtering procedures, is allowed
to be traded. Nevertheless, the United States has the loosest
regulations regarding beef products [of any other countries] in the
category of the 'controlled BSE risk zone,' far less than that of
Japan or Canada. It is still fresh in one's memory that two people
died from eating e-coli contaminated ground beef burgers. It is an
overly vague and exaggerating statement that 'the OIE supports the
safety of U.S. beef and beef products.' [I] hope that the citizens
in Taiwan, rather than just reading information on the website of
AIT, which represents the country exporting U.S. beef, should refer
to information from multiple sources to safeguard the health of
their own and the next generation."