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

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0018/01 0060927
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060927Z JAN 10
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3065
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9607
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0991

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000018

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 and English-language
dailies gave extensive straightforward news reporting and editorial
coverage January 6 to the controversy concerning the import of U.S.
beef. Taiwan's Legislative Yuan on January 5 amended the Act
Governing Food Sanitation which bans the import of six types of
"risky" U.S. beef products. The pro-independence "Liberty Times"
ran a front-page banner headline reading "Amendments to Law
Concerning U.S. Beef Passes the Third Reading, Consumers' Foundation
Strongly Calls for Renegotiation [of the U.S. Beef Deal]." The
KMT-leaning "China Times" also ran a front-page banner headline
reading "Using the Act Governing Food Sanitation to Block U.S. Beef
[Imports]; United States: Difficult to Expand Trade and Economic
[Relations] with Taiwan."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial lambasted President Ma Ying-jeou for his arbitrary action,
saying that Ma's mishandling of the U.S. beef issue has had an
impact on Taiwan-U.S. relations. Editorials in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" and the pro-unification "United Daily News" discussed
the U.S. beef issue and the recent remarks by the American Chamber
of Commerce in Taiwan on U.S.-Taiwan relations. Both articles urged
Taiwan to strengthen its relations with the United States.
Editorials in the conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" also chimed in by saying Ma should mend fences with
Uncle Sam. An editorial in the pro-independence, English-language
"Taiwan News" also criticized Ma and said it is Ma, not the Taiwan
people, who should bear the blame for the U.S. beef flap. End
summary.

A) "Ma Ying-jeou's Acting Arbitrarily Has an Impact on Taiwan-U.S.
Relations"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 680,000]
editorialized (1/6):

"The Legislative Yuan passed the third reading of the amendments to
the Act Governing Food Sanitation Tuesday, which bans the import of
six types of "risky" U.S. beef products -- skull, brain, eyes,
spinal cord, ground beef and beef offal. The move was akin to
rejecting the Taiwan-U.S. beef protocol and has immediately aroused
displeasure from the United States. AIT issued a statement Tuesday,
not only criticizing Taiwan for unilaterally abrogating the protocol
but also pointing out bluntly that such an action has undermined
Taiwan's credibility as a responsible trading partner, making it
more difficult for Washington to conclude future agreements to
expand and strengthen bilateral trade and economic ties going
forward. The U.S. reaction indicated that the U.S. beef issue has
caused Taiwan-U.S. relations to regress seriously. Ma Ying-jeou's
recent bragging that Taiwan-U.S. relations are in their best state
for the past six decades has become very ironic. ... The U.S. beef
talks is a major diplomatic setback for the Ma administration,
showing that Ma's campaign slogan 'We are ready' was nothing but a
lack of governance ability and grand planning. ...

"Frankly speaking, what interests did Taiwan really get from the
[U.S. beef] talks? Was it progress in the Taiwan-U.S. 'Trade and
Investment Framework' (TIFA) talks, Washington being willing to
sign a Free Trade Agreement with Taiwan, or just Taiwan being
included in the U.S. visa-waiver program? In other words, since
there are risks involved in importing U.S. beef, Taiwan must
naturally get [some] substantial national interests in return if it
agrees to sign the protocol -- only that will make [our] concessions
meaningful. But when [we] look back, it seems that the Ma
administration evidently failed to use that as a bargaining chip to
pursue the greater interests for its people. It gained nothing
[from the protocol], but was quite pleased with itself and asked its
people to accept [the final result]. ... To get to the bottom of
it, the Taiwan people are clearly aware of the importance of
Taiwan-U.S. relations, but they also know that it is all because of
the Ma administration's acting arbitrarily and mishandling that has
led to the consequence today. ..."

B) "Strengthening Relations with the United States Is the Only
Workable Method"

The mass-circulation "Apple Daily" [circulation: 530,000]
editorialized (1/6):

"... Taiwan-U.S. relations are the cornerstone of Taiwan's foreign
relations and the protector of the Taiwan-centric awareness and the
island's democratic lifestyle. It is correct when Ma's team
proposed the grand strategy of 'harmonizing with China, befriending
Japan and maintaining a close relationship with the United States.'
But when it comes to execution [of the strategy], one discovered
that the [Ma] administration only focuses on harmonizing with China,
and hardly any work has been done in building a close relationship
with the United States. ...

"... Taiwan's relations with the United States, Japan and China must

be maintained at least as an equilateral triangle, or it must be a
triangle, of which its relations with China and the United States
are equilateral. ... This is common sense in international
relations, something that President Ma and [National Security
Council Secretary-General] Su Chi, who had all studied in the United
States, must be aware of. But it appears that Ma's team has
abandoned its efforts to lobby the United States and Japan. In this
vein, not only fewer and fewer elites in the United States will care
about Taiwan, but it has created more opportunities for China to
lobby American elites to call for the abolishment of the 'Taiwan
Relations Act' -- a development quite upsetting to the elites who
have spoken in favor of Taiwan. Taiwan must strengthen its
relations with the United States so as to balance the dangerous
situation that it is tilting overly to China. In that way, the
Taiwan people will be able to eliminate their doubts about Ma's
tilting toward China and pushing for unification. ..."

C) "Breaking away from Taiwan and Leaning toward China -- the United
States' Cross-Strait Policy Direction"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (1/6):

"The American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan advocated that the
United States should sell weapons to Taiwan, including 60 F-16 C/D
fighter jets. The American Chamber of Commerce said the White
House's hesitation toward arms sales to Taiwan stems from its
'perception that Taiwan is a hurdle to the United States' interests
in Asia.' One must not take this comment as a kind of lobbying
rhetoric by the arms dealers alone. ... Perhaps this does not just
indicate that the sale of the fighter jets will be shelved again;
instead, it showed that the United States' cross-Strait policy has
entered a framework of 'breaking away from Taiwan and leaning toward
China.' ..."

D) "The Beef War Being Fought on the Third Front"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] editorialized (1/6):

"The beef war triggered by the signing of a protocol on Oct. 22 last
year is being fought on the third front now. ... Lawmakers passed
the amendment yesterday, opening the third front for the war that
had been fought on the home front between the Kuomintang (KMT)
administration and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The war
in the second stage was won by the opposition party, which succeeded
in getting the amendment passed with the defection of most of the
legislators of the ruling KMT. It was serious loss attributed to
President Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as chairman of the KMT. The
loss was made bitter when President Ma received a warning from a
powerful U.S. senator, who is a friend of Taiwan. ... Well, Senator
Baucus' hope was dashed. President Ma cannot reverse the decision
Taiwan's legislature has taken. The only thing he can do now is to
do his very best to 'communicate' with, and 'explain' to, the U.S.
Meanwhile, his government is bracing for U.S. retaliation. ...

"There is little doubt that the Ma government is having a very hard
time continuing the war on the third front. ... As a matter of
fact, Washington had suggested that the protocol be signed after the
Dec. 5 elections. President Ma, convinced that the U.S. beef import
issue was no issue at all, had the protocol signed. It's a
non-issue, of course. But the timing was disastrous. The
opposition party needed an issue and jumped at the god-send
opportunity, stirring up the hidden anti-Ma and anti-U.S. feelings
of the people to win the mayoralty and magistracy elections. It did
to Ma's dismay. And he is facing another probable loss in the three
legislative by elections by Feb. 9 [sic]. ... All this means Ma has
to mend fences with Uncle Sam as soon as possible. Whether Taipei
can win an American understanding to get TIFA negotiations under way
at the earliest possible date depends on how persuasive Ma can be to
absolve himself of 'mea culpa,' albeit he may put all the blame on
the stupidly obstructionist lawmakers of his own party and the
opposition."

E) "Ma, Not the People, Bears Blame for U.S. Beef Flap"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] editorialized (1/6):

"President Ma Ying-jeou displayed to a national television audience
yesterday his inability to grasp the fundamentals of democratic
politics when he blamed Taiwan's 23 million people for the flap on
the question of liberalization of risky beef products from the
United States. ... After all, the reason behind the series of
policy disputes from U.S. beef to swine influenza vaccinations and
the controversial cross-strait economic cooperation framework
agreement (ECFA) and Ma's plunging approval and public confidence
ratings below 30 percent lies less in the lack of effectiveness of
government propaganda but deepening mistrust and intensifying

anxiety over the Ma government's habitual 'black box' method of
decision-making and operation. ...

"In light of Ma's evident belief that the Taiwan people bear
responsibility, we urge Taiwan voters to take corrective action in
early 2012 to reverse the mistake they made in early 2008 in
electing him and giving the KMT a three-fourths majority in the
Legislative Yuan. Voters in Taichung, Taitung and Taoyuan Counties
have an opportunity to begin this corrective action in legislative
by-elections Saturday. Finally, we urge Taiwan citizens to protest
the Ma administration's arrogant decision to 'blame the people' and
protect their own health by declining to purchase U.S. 'beef in
bone.'"

STANTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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