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Cablegate: Media Reaction: First Year of President Obama, U.S.-Taiwan

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0104/01 0270906
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270906Z JAN 10
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3218
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9668
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 1052

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000104

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: FIRST YEAR OF PRESIDENT OBAMA, U.S.-TAIWAN
RELATIONS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage January 27 on a Taiwan Air Force Academy T-34C twin-seat
training aircraft, which went missing near Kaohsiung Tuesday; on
President Ma Ying-jeou's transit in San Francisco en route to
Honduras; on developments in cross-Strait relations; and on possible
U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Several papers also covered a digital
video conference AIT held Tuesday on "American Think Tanks - Views
on Recent Cross-Strait Developments."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed the first year of U.S. President
Barack Obama and said Obama is ready "to change and to strive for
the wellbeing of the poor common people in the United States." An
op-ed in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times,"
written by a freelance writer based in Hawaii, discussed retired
U.S. Admiral Timothy Keating's recent visit to Taiwan, his meeting
with President Ma, and his impression of Taiwan. End summary.

3. First Year of President Obama

"Obama Seeks Change to Win Back People's Support"

Columnist Lin Po-wen wrote in his column in the KMT-leaning "China
Times" [circulation: 120,000] (1/27):

"... On can tell from a straw in the wind, [such as the Democratic
Party's defeat in the Senate election] in Massachusetts [last week],
that [people's sentiments] throughout the United States are
changing. It happened to be the day that [President Barack] Obama
had assumed office for a full year when the [seat in the Senate
representing] Massachusetts changed [from the Democratic Party to
the Republican], and he had thus received a political warning
signal. Obama is very smart; he knows he must change his work style
and administrative focus. ... Obama also made some strategic and
tactical mistakes. He handed the authority to steer the health care
reform to the Democratic leaders in the Senate and the House, while
he himself hid in the White House dealing with other businesses. As
a result, the healthcare policy lost its focus, and Congressmen from
some remote places did their utmost to turn the health bill into a
patchwork. ... But health care is not the biggest problem facing
Obama. His major problem is the high unemployment rate (10
percent). ...

"When Obama learned about the [warning] message, he decided to make
some changes. He won the [U.S.] voters' approval [a year ago]
because of his call for 'change.' A year has passed, and when
people saw no change in Washington, they got disappointed. Obama
wants to do something different from what he has done the past year
-- in his State of the Union address to be delivered Wednesday to
the Congress, Obama is going to alleviate the economic pressure of
the middle class by reducing their taxes. Over the past year, Obama
has overlooked the middle class, who are the backbone of U.S.
society, and now he wants to make it up to them. He also wants to
start walking the line of populism. He used to be viewed as elite,
a cut above other people in every aspect. Now he is ready to lower
himself, to change, and to strive for the wellbeing of the poor
common people [in the United States]. He still has time and room to
improve, and he ought to bring his leadership into full play and be
a helmsman who is really in charge."

4. U.S.-Taiwan Relations

"Keating Impressed by Visit to Taiwan"

Richard Halloran, a freelance writer based in Hawaii, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (1/27):

"... As serving officers, [Admiral Timothy] Keating and other US
admirals and generals have been prohibited by successive
administrations in Washington from traveling to Taiwan out of
deference to the political sensitivities of Chinese leaders. The
reaction in Beijing to any hint of US support for Taiwan has ranged
from indignant to belligerent. Those restrictions, plus the absence
of diplomatic relations between Taipei and Washington and the lack
of robust military relations that US armed forces experience in many
other nations, makes first-hand observations of officers like
Keating all the more useful. He has reported them to Pacific Command
and the Pentagon. 'The leaders I met in Taipei repeatedly expressed
a desire to see senior US active duty military officers and high
level diplomats come visit Taiwan to see for themselves,' Keating
said by telephone from his home in Virginia.

"The centerpiece of his visit was the meeting with Ma, who spoke
with him in English. 'President Ma "gets it," Keating said, 'with a
longer range and wider view of the opportunities for statesmanship
across the [Taiwan] Strait.' ... Keating said he came home
convinced that 'there has to be a way to resolve this dispute. We
RELATIONS

should continue to seek a solution.' He suggested, however, that he
did not have a proposal. Ma told Keating that he saw a need for four
parties to resolve the 60-year-old dispute, according to US
officers. The first two are the governments in Beijing and
Washington because the Taiwan Relations Act requires the US to help
the people of Taiwan to determine their own future. The third party
was, obviously, the government in Taiwan. The fourth, Ma said, would
be the opposition parties that must have a say if a lasting solution
is to be found. That was seen as a political reality in Taiwan's
evolving democracy. ... Keating seemed impressed with Taiwan's
forces. ... But he expressed mild dissatisfaction with US diplomatic
delegation in Taipei. 'The American Institute in Taiwan is like an
embassy except our people there don't fly the American flag. That's
something that should be reconsidered,' he said."

STANTON

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