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

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0027/01 0071020
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071020Z JAN 10
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3078
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9610
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0994

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000027

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.-TAIWAN RELATIONS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage January 7 on the fallout following the Legislative Yuan's
decision Tuesday to amend the Act Governing Food Sanitation which
bans the import of six types of "risky" U.S. beef products; on the
National Communications Commission's decision to cut the local
telecommunications service fees; and on the domestic concerns over
the H1N1 vaccination. The pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a
front-page banner headline reading "[Regarding] U.S. Beef Case, U.S.
State Department: Arms Sales [to Taiwan] Will Not Be Affected." The
pro-unification "United Daily News" also ran a banner headline on
page four, reading "Taiwan Inclined to Start Discussions with the
United States over the U.S. Beef Controversy Immediately."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times" news
analysis discussed the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and said the U.S.
beef issue is insignificant when compared with the United States'
strategic security in East Asia. But Washington will adopt harsher
retaliatory moves against Taiwan if the Ma administration continues
to tilt toward China, to the extent that it will have an impact on
U.S. strategic interests, the article added. A separate "Liberty
Times" op-ed said if the U.S. beef issue and the U.S. arms sales to
Taiwan put distance between Washington and Taipei, it will be
exactly what China and Ma Ying-jeou are hoping for. A "United Daily
News" editorial criticized Taiwan's Legislative Yuan for being
overly-emotional and irrational in amending the Act Governing Food
Sanitation and abrogating the U.S.-Taiwan beef protocol. An op-ed
in the KMT-leaning "China Times" lambasted the Ma administration's
"negative governance," which, according to the article, has expanded
the U.S. beef crisis to a "U.S.-Taiwan crisis." End summary.

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A) "China Tossing off Nasty Remarks Have All the More Highlighted
the Importance of [U.S.] Arms Sales [to Taiwan]"

Journalist Luo Tian-pin wrote in an analysis in the pro-independence
"Liberty Times" [circulation: 680,000] (1/7):

"...Even though Taipei and Washington are holding grudges because of
the U.S. beef issue, the U.S. beef issue is simply insignificant
when compared with the United States' strategic security [interests]
in East Asia. This is the key as to why Washington has issued a
statement saying that the U.S. beef issue is unrelated to U.S. arms
sales [to Taiwan]. But if the Ma administration continues to tilt
toward China to the extent that it will have an impact on the United
States' strategic interests, the moves Washington will take and the
retaliatory means it will use -- as well as the level [of the U.S.
officials involved] and the harshness of its means -- will be
incomparable with those of the U.S. beef case. Thus the Ma
administration must ponder it clearly."

B) "Stratagem of U.S. Beef?"

Chuang Po-lin, former National Policy Adviser to President Chen
Shui-bian, opined in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
[circulation: 680,000] (1/7):

"...U.S. beef issue will also involve [Taiwan's] arms procurements
from the United States. Except for the United States, no country in
the world is willing to sell weapons to Taiwan, and Taiwan's lack of
an ability to defend itself against an invasion is exactly the
disastrous consequences caused by the one China policy and the '1992
Consensus' fabricated by [National Security Council
Secretary-General] Su Chi, on which Ma Ying-jeou's major government
policies are based. There is indeed no reason for Taiwan to offend
the United States. If [the Ma administration] had communicated with
the legislature before it signed [the beef deal with the United
States] and had excluded those highly risky parts, it would not have
drawn U.S. criticism for abrogating the deal [on the Taiwan side].


"Should the U.S. beef issue and arms procurements join to distance
the United States and Taiwan, it will be exactly what China and Ma
are hoping for. [Ma's] all-out efforts to promote ties with China
and further to sign the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement,
which will include [sections about] abandoning Taiwan's sovereignty,
will put both the United States and the Taiwan people in an
unfavorable position. Ma, as the leader of [Taiwan's] 23 million
people, deserves to be condemned by public opinion and the Taiwan
people, and this is what the mighty Taiwan people should do."

C) "Amending Laws and Abrogating the Agreement [Regarding U.S. Beef
Imports] Are an Over-emotional and Irrational [Move]"

The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (1/7):

"... [Taiwan] must not underestimate the United States' reactions.
AIT said: The legislature's decision to unilaterally abrogate the
bilateral protocol the United States [and Taiwan] negotiated in good
faith disregards both science-based standards as well as the
findings of Taiwan's own risk assessment. AIT also said: This
action by Taiwan undermines its credibility as a responsible trading
partner and will make it more difficult for the United States to
conclude future agreements to expand and strengthen bilateral trade
and economic ties going forward. AIT added: It is particularly
disappointing, as the United States has long been one of Taiwan's
most important trade and investment partners, as well as the
strongest supporter for Taiwan's active participation in the global
trading system, including its membership in the World Trade
Organization, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Putting such comments into vernacular language, it is like saying:
Does Taiwan still want such an important friend like the United
States? Will Taiwan remain a credible friend to the United States?
Is there a Taiwan government that is able to sign deals [with other
countries]?

"If Taiwan were not irrational and over-emotional, it surely would
be able to accurately interpret such comments from the United States
and appropriately assess the major damage [Taiwan's amending the law
and abrogating the beef deal] has done to our entire country. ...
Our question is: No matter how big the prices [Taiwan will have to
pay] for amending the law and abrogating the [beef] deal, has the
Legislative Yuan ever tried its upmost to seek avoiding it in order
to do good for our country? Or has it, amid the emotional and
irrational political maneuverings, just added more fuel to the fire
for our country? We also want to ask this question: Is amending
the law and abrogating the [beef] deal the only or the best
resolution? Or are there better resolutions that can bar the
[imports of U.S.] offal while not requiring the amendment to the law
and breaking the deal? ..."

D) "Legislature Going Out-of-Control: the Biggest Nightmare for Ma
Ying-jeou"

Wang Chien-chuang, former president of "China Times," opined in the
KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 120,000] (1/7):

"Immediately after the Legislative Yuan (LY) passed the amendments
to the 'Act Governing Food Sanitation,' Ma Ying-jeou held a press
conference at the Presidential Office in response [to the LY's
move]. It was evident that Ma has upgraded the 'U.S. beef crisis,'
which ought to be an internal affair, to a 'U.S.-Taiwan crisis' -- a
diplomatic issue; he felt the need to step up to the line of fire to
attend to follow-up issues, or it will not be able to eliminate
diplomatic retaliation from the U.S. government. The U.S. beef
crisis is a result of a foolish mistake, and a synthesis of the Ma
administration's 'negative governance' -- oligarch decision-making,
the executive branch acting without authorization, paying little
attention to the legislature, turning a blind eye to public opinion,
and an extremely clumsy and ineffective crisis management strategy.
All these have added up to enlarge the U.S. beef crisis into the
biggest-ever setback for the Ma administration, or even for Ma
himself, since he assumed office, which was even worse than the
crisis caused by Typhoon Morakot [in August, 2009]. ..."

STANTON

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