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

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0012/01 0050945
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050945Z JAN 10
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3051
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9596
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0983

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000012

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: U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage January 5 on the controversy over the U.S. beef issue and
the discussions in the Legislative Yuan over amendments to the law
concerning U.S. beef imports; on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan; on the
domestic concerns over the H1N1 vaccination; and on upcoming
legislative by-elections. The pro-unification "United Daily News"
ran a banner headline on page two, reading "Delinking with U.S. Beef
[Imports]; [U.S.] Arms Sales to Taiwan Will Be Announced by the End
of January at the Earliest." The KMT-leaning "China Times" also ran
a banner headline on page two, reading "The United States Writes a
Letter to Ma: Hoping Taiwan Will Implement the [Beef] Protocol."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed a "Foreign Affairs" article
written by U.S. scholar Bruce Gillery, which said Taiwan is quickly
undergoing a process of "Finlandization." The article said such
remarks were a severe warning for the Ma Ying-jeou administration,
which is believed to be tilting overly to China. A separate "Apple
Daily" editorial, however, said Taiwan's 'Finlandization' is
nonsensical but suggested that the Ma administration strengthen its
relations with the United States. An analysis in the "United Daily
News" discussed the U.S. beef issue and criticized Taiwan's national
security team for failing to understand what Taiwan and the United
States want. An op-ed in the KMT-leaning "China Times" clearly
analyzes the Ma administration's "middle-of-the-road strategy" and
its connections to the U.S. beef issue. An editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" discussed the
consequences Taiwan might face in the wake of the U.S. beef
controversy and said Taiwan should help Washington in the war in
Afghanistan, and such efforts will be noticed in Washington. End
summary.

A) "Finlandization' Is a Severe Warning for the Ma Administration"

Huang Chih-ta, deputy director of the DPP's Department of
International Affairs, opined in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily"
[circulation: 520,000] (1/4):

"... U.S. scholar Bruce Gillery recently [published an article] in
the prestigious journal, 'Foreign Affairs,' alleging that, given the
Ma administration's cross-Strait policy over the past 18 months,
Taiwan is walking toward the line of Finlandization. [Such a view]
is a misunderstanding which underestimates Beijing's intentions
toward Taiwan's sovereignty and overestimates the prowess of the Ma
administration.

"Yet Gillery's article was a severe warning for Taiwan. It clearly
highlights the fact that the Ma administration's overly
China-tilting line, as shown in its cross-Strait policy, has arrived
at a critical point, which has not only torn apart [Taiwan] society,
causing severe confrontations in public opinion, but has also eroded
the foundation of trust between Taiwan and its allies. If the Ma
administration fails to try to make any adjustments and seek a
balance [of its line], and if Gillery's position were adopted as the
mainstream view in Washington, resulting in the United States'
cessation of arms sales to Taiwan, the island will be excluded from
[the United States'] allies in Asia. [Washington] will let Taiwan
become 'neutralized,' and, as a result, the future of Taiwan, which
has lost the support of the international powers, will certainly not
be 'Finlandization' but will walk toward the destination of being
'another Hong Kong.'"

B) "Finlandization of Taiwan Is Purely Nonsense"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000]
editorialized (1/1):

"... If compared with an article by former Vice Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Bill Owens published not long ago -- 'America
must start treating China as a friend,' which called for the
abolishment of the 'Taiwan Relations Act' (TRA) and a halt to arms
sales to Taiwan, we will find that more and more Chinese lobbyists
in the United States are pushing for the abolishment of the TRA and
a halt to arms sales to Taiwan. It appears that the nightmare of
the United States' 'hands-off policy' adopted toward the Nationalist
government when the latter retreated to Taiwan in defeat has
re-appeared. What is more terrifying is that the call has become
popularized and was even published in 'Foreign Affairs.' It will
not be too long before it becomes a policy. ...

"... Now some people in America have started to maintain that Taiwan
has become 'Finlandized,' in an attempt by the United States to be
able to get rid of the hurdle -- Taiwan -- between itself and China.
In reality, how can those scholars not know that China is firmly
against the Finlandization of Taiwan? Finland and the [former]
Soviet Union are of different ethnic groups and speak different
languages, and Finland has long been acknowledged by the
international community as an independent sovereign state; all the
[former] Soviet Union wanted was for Finland to keep a neutral

stand. Taiwan, on the contrary, 'has long since been a part of
China,' as claimed by Beijing, and acknowledging the island's
Finlandization would mean a de jure acknowledgement of one China and
one Taiwan. What Beijing wants is for Taiwan to become like Hong
Kong and Macau. Surely Gillery knows this, so his remarks that
Taiwan's Finlandization will be conducive to China's geopolitical
interests were nothing but a statement that deceives himself and
others.

"What we are seriously concerned about is that the Ma administration
totally disregards China's spending big money lobbying in the United
States; turns a blind eye to the calls in the United States for the
abolishment of the TRA and a thorough change to U.S.-China-Taiwan
relations; and just indulges itself in befriending China.
Strengthening [Taiwan's] relations with the United States is the
foundation for [Ma's theory of] 'harmonizing with China, befriending
Japan, and maintaining an intimate relationship with the United
States.' Should [Ma] continue to overlook this part [of the job],
it will make people justifiably suspect that [Ma] is deliberately
distancing [Taiwan] from the United States in order to create
conditions for reunification [with China]."

C) "[Taiwan's] National Security Team Knows Nothing about the Island
or the United States"

Journalist Stella Wang wrote in an analysis in the pro-unification
"United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (1/5):

"Following the amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation in
the Legislative Yuan today, the United States will embark on its
retaliation against Taiwan's unilateral abrogation of the U.S. beef
protocol. The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA)
[talks] that Taiwan has long awaited are sure to be stalled, but the
[U.S.] arms sales to Taiwan seem unaffected [by the legislative
move]. Arms sales are an indicator of Taiwan-U.S. relations, and
the U.S. move showed that Taiwan-U.S. relations would unlikely be
'slowed down and get out of balance' as the Ma administration is
worried they will be. It is the same for every country that its
national interests always come first, so it does for the United
States. Trade and economics are just one of the means in dealing
with other countries, and they should not necessarily affect
[Washington's] consideration of [Taiwan's] national security. ...

"The United States wants to import the [whole range of] beef [and
beef products] to Taiwan, though the attempt has failed for the time
being. Washington only lost face but not its substantive interests.
Taiwan allows the amendments that restrict [U.S. beef imports] to
pass; it may look good on the face of it but has actually lost
everything in reality. A more serious problem in this incident is
that [Taiwan's] national security team knows nothing about the
island or the United States -- it overlooks public opinion [in
Taiwan] while failing to predict what moves the United States will
make next."

D) "Calculations and Limitations of the Ma Administration's
Middle-of-the-Road Strategy"

Wu Yu-shan, research fellow at the Academia Sinica's Institute of
Political Science, opined in the KMT-leaning "China Times"
[circulation: 120,000] (1/1):

"The Ma administration has received quite a lot of criticism since
it assumed office more than a year ago, partly because it is
believed to be titling overly to China and partly for the perception
that it is unable to resist U.S. pressure by allowing the import of
U.S. beef products that may be risky to people's health. These two
matters are actually closely related, and to understand their
connection, one must start with the Ma administration's
middle-of-the-road strategy. When the KMT regained its power in
2008, its strategic plan was to pick a line that is opposite to the
one taken by the previous DPP government. ...

"President Ma's new line was made with the intent [to remedy] the
[Chen Shui-] Bian administration's defects. He used the '1992
Consensus" as a stepping stone to succeed in improving relations
with Beijing; used the eased cross-Strait relations to alleviate the
United States' worries; sought fundamental support from the Blue
camp by stopping 'de-Sinification;' and then used the [declaration
of] 'no unification, no independence, and no use of force' and
identification with Taiwan to [seek to] mitigate opposition from the
DPP. His line is fundamentally to 'have a footing between the Blue
and Green' in Taiwan, and to 'keep a balance between the United
States and China' internationally. Even though Ma comes from the
KMT, a party which is traditionally pro-U.S. and anti-independence,
he has tried the utmost he can to improve [Taiwan's] relations with
Beijing, yet at the same time embracing the Taiwan-centric
awareness. The Blue, Green, United States, and China all can find
something in Ma that is acceptable to each of them, and, likewise,
they will also find something that is disappointing in him. In

contrast to the Bian administration's 'one gain and three loses'
[i.e. gain the support of the Green but loses the trust of the Blue,
the United States and China], the Ma administration strategy is to
get 'four gains' with its middle-of-the-road line.

"Such a middle-of-the-road line did succeed in certain breakthroughs
in the beginning.... Yet it also has its limitations. The line
former President Chen Shui-bian adopted was to seek a breakthrough
on one side without considering the others. The Ma administration's
new policy, however, seeks to attend to every detail, fearing that
it will offend any side. ... For the United States, it certainly
supports the Ma administration's efforts in improving relations with
Beijing. But in the face of the rising China, it cannot help but
have misgivings that Taiwan will not be able to hold its stand
firmly and will thus be taken in completely by mainland China and
eventually become a part of China's economic and political sphere of
influence. For the DPP, no matter how strongly the Ma
administration pledges its loyalty to Taiwan, it cannot help but
have doubts. When it sees the rise of China and becomes a hegemony
in the world, it is all the more worried that the KMT's connections
with Beijing will eventually sell out Taiwan. As a result, the
'middle-of-the-road strategy' that attempts to please every side,
after having been implemented for some time, will unavoidably result
in some gaps in the expectations of each side, and the Ma
administration will naturally fall under tremendous pressure.

"... The Ma administration believes that improving cross-Strait
relations is a necessary move to save Taiwan's economy, but he began
to stagger, having been dragged and pushed by the opposition powers
in Taiwan. Likewise, he understands the U.S.' concerns when seeking
to improve [Taiwan's] relations with Beijing, so he is all the more
susceptible to U.S. pressure on issues such as U.S. beef imports, in
fear that any mishandling of such issues will sabotage [Taiwan's]
relations with the United States. The Ma administration hopes to
acquire a balanced position between the United States and China and
seek to win over Washington while making friends with Beijing. This
is the strategic guiding principle adopted [by the Ma
administration] for the U.S. beef issue, which has totally exceeded
pure considerations for public health and economics. In the end,
given the mishandling [by the Ma administration], domestic political
pressure forced Taiwan to violate its deal [with the United States],
and the Taiwan government's [original] goodwill gestures and
expectations for the United States will likely create totally
opposite results. This is something unavoidable when a
middle-of-the-road strategy seeks to balance each side. ..."

E) "Afghanistan: Opportunity for Taiwan"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (1/5):

"Pundits have busied themselves in the past week trying to determine
whether a decision by Taipei to renegotiate US beef imports with
Washington will have implications on US security commitments to
Taiwan. Already, an unexpected delay in US President Barack Obama's
weapons sale notification to Congress -- which had been expected
soon after Obama returned from climate talks in Copenhagen last
month -- had prompted speculation that Washington may be tying
economic matters to political ones and retaliating for the
about-face. Not only is it too soon to tell, but 60 years of
US-Taiwan ties have shown that Washington, at least in Taiwan's
case, is capable of treating economics and politics as separate
matters -- as they should be. Likelier explanations for the delay
are the conflicting interests of the State Department, the
Department of Defense and the White House, as well as Obama's
balancing act with Taipei and Beijing and efforts to avoid derailing
cross-strait rapprochement.

"Washington handles diplomacy in multi-track fashion in that it
usually rewards and punishes within related sectors. As such, it
retaliates on trade with trade, and on military matters with
military matters, with little cross-pollination. Failure by Taipei
to demonstrate that it takes its own defense seriously, as opposed
to freeloading on US security guarantees, would be one way to invite
US retaliation on arms sales. Lack of participation in
non-proliferation efforts, which were somewhat undermined last month
when British intelligence linked Taiwanese private firms to the sale
of sensitive equipment to Iran, would be another. US beef, however,
isn't a deal-breaker on defense issues -- however strongly some US
policymakers feel about the matter.

The US also expects its allies to share the security burden. Nowhere
has this been clearer than in Afghanistan, where US generals have
made plea after plea on NATO and non-NATO allies to do more. ... It
comes as no surprise, therefore, that Washington would ask Taiwan to
play a role in Afghanistan. Last week, a source in the Ministry of
Defense told the media that the US wants Taiwan to provide medical
or engineering assistance to troops there. This request is not
unprecedented: During the Gulf War in 1991, Taipei offered US$300

million toward the war effort, which Washington turned down after
pressure from Beijing. More recently, Taiwan has provided medical
assistance in Iraq.

"Afghanistan is the story of our time, as its future direction will
have a direct impact on international security. No country, however
isolated, will be unaffected if the US-led alliance fails to avert
Afghanistan's implosion - not even Taiwan. As a wealthy country that
has profited from the US umbrella for decades and as the world's
20th largest military by spending, Taiwan must contribute to global
stability, which would not go unnoticed in Washington.... Taiwan
must step up to the plate, otherwise it may be kicked out of the
game altogether."

STANTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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