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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations


DE RUEHIN #1525/01 3620910
R 280910Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage from December 25 through December 28 on the aftermath of
the fourth round of cross-Strait negotiations; on the legislative
by-election scheduled for early January, 2010; and on the discussion
in the Legislative Yuan regarding a possible legislation restricting
U.S. beef imports. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an
editorial in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed National
Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi's remarks on Taiwan's
foreign relations in a recent press conference. The article said it
is the United States, not China, which is Taiwan's most important
ally, so the Taiwan government should put more effort into improving
its relations with the United States. A separate "Apple Daily"
op-ed also called on the legislators not to save a little only to
lose a lot on the U.S. beef issue. End summary.

A) "The United States Is What Really Matters"

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The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 530,000]
editorialized (12/26):

"In his first-ever press conference last Thursday, National Security
Council Secretary-General Su Chi clearly stated the difficult
situation that Taiwan is in: It is difficult being a small country
sandwiched between three big powers. ... Judging from a realistic
point of view, there is nothing wrong with Su's statement. In an
era of globalization, there is basically no need to make things
difficult for -- or to stand on the opposite side of -- any
particular country. But why is it that it is everyone's feeling
that the Ma administration is only seeking to improve ties with
China while distancing itself from Japan and the United States?
Perhaps it is because [Taiwan] has had a very poor relationship with
China over the past decade and needs to beef up its efforts in
making up for it now, thus resulting in [giving people] the
impression that it is tilting toward China. But in reality, it is
the United States, not China, which is most important for Taiwan.
Hence the government needs to put more effort into improve its
relations with the United States and let its people see what it has
done, so that they will not be worried that the Ma administration is
tilting toward China and selling out Taiwan."

B) "Never Try to Save a Little Only to Lose a Lot on the U.S. Beef

Professor Edward Chen from Tamkang University's Graduate Institute
of American Studies opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 530,000] (12/26):

"National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi recently
addressed the Legislative Yuan (LY) and pointed out that if the LY
amends the law related to U.S. beef imports and in so doing violates
the Taiwan-U.S. protocol [on U.S. beef], there will be three
possible consequences: First, it will have an impact on Taiwan-U.S.
economic relations, and in particular, the Taiwan-U.S. 'Trade and
Investment Framework Agreement' (TIFA) [talks] will continue to
stall. Second, it will generate an impact on Taiwan's relations
with the U.S. Congress. Third, if the move displeases the United
States, Washington will no longer strongly support Taiwan's
participation in international organizations. ...

"Perhaps some people may question whether the long-stalled TIFA
talks have done any damage to [Taiwan's] national interests. But
what really matters is that the Obama administration has long since
threatened that if both sides fail to resolve the U.S. beef issue,
other issues such as double taxation, the investment pact, trade
facilitation, intellectual property rights, energy and environmental
protection, the visa-waiver program, and the extradition agreement
will be put on hold as well. On the one hand, the Taiwan public,
the small- and medium-sized businesses as well as the big companies
in Taiwan will all suffer tremendous losses if Washington and Taipei
postpone the talks on the afore-mentioned issues. In the meantime,
President Ma Ying-jeou is concerned that should there be no progress
in the talks on these issues, while both sides of the Strait have
signed twelve agreements in 18 months, it will easily create an
impression among people that the Ma administration is 'tilting
toward China.' That is why President Ma called a press conference
when he visited some Central American countries in June and urged
the ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan to attach great
importance to the U.S. beef issue. It was not difficult to see how
much pressure he had endured then from the United States.

"Second, it is the U.S. congressmen from the agriculturally-oriented
states that have been most supportive of Taiwan, and these
congressmen are most concerned about whether the U.S. beef import
question will be settled peacefully and smoothly. ... But if they
learn that Taiwan's Legislative Yuan is to pass amendments
concerning U.S. beef and thereby violate the Taiwan-U.S. beef
protocol, their enthusiasm for supporting Taiwan will naturally drop
henceforth. Given such an impact, they not only will not speak in
favor of Taiwan in the Congress, but their support for the Taiwan
Relations Act will also drop significantly. ...

"In fact, following one year of assessment, the [Taiwan] government
has made sure that the U.S. side has comprehensively modified its
feed for cows in the States. Therefore there is no longer any
problem with mad cow disease, and with the series of administrative
measures [employed in Taiwan], the government believes that the
risks caused by U.S. beef are completely under control. Yet if our
Legislative Yuan passes amendments concerning U.S. beef and violates
the Taiwan-U.S. beef protocol, or if it demands a renegotiation [of
the U.S. beef deal], other countries such as Japan and South Korea
will naturally follow suit, which will certainly put the United
States in a position too difficult to handle. Washington, as a
result, will vent all its anger on Taiwan and will naturally have no
mind to support Taiwan's participation in international
organizations. Should that become the case, the legislators who
support any amendments against U.S. beef imports will save a little
only to lose a lot by putting their personal political interests
ahead of national interests and national security."


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