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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Obama, Google, U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

VZCZCXYZ0013
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0099/01 0260931
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260931Z JAN 10
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3209
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9665
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 1049

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000099

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: OBAMA, GOOGLE, U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS

1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage January 26 on President Ma Ying-jeou's nomination of the
island's top prosecutor Monday; on developments in cross-Strait
relations; on President Ma Ying-jeou's visit to Honduras and the
Dominican Republic; on Taiwan's rescue and relief efforts in Haiti;
and on the legislative by-elections slated for the end of February.

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed the first year of U.S.
President Barack Obama and said Obama, like Taiwan's President Ma
Ying-jeou, has lost his halo and is running out of charisma. A
column in the KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed Google's recent
threat to quit China and said the United States has learned from its
previous practice that the Internet can be its very powerful and
exclusive weapon against other countries. An op-ed in the
China-focused "Want Daily" discussed the development of U.S. policy
in Asia and concluded that deepening the United States' relations
with its alliances, security in East Asia, and the United States'
participation in regional cooperation in Asia are the axes of
Washington's Asian policy. An op-ed in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times," written by a Western commentator,
discussed U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and said "selling weapons to
Taiwan would empower it without inserting the US into any
cross-Strait crossfire." End summary.

3. Obama

"Obama Has Lost His Halo"

Columnist Antonio Chiang wrote in his column in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 530,000] (1/26):

"When [U.S. President Barack] Obama was elected, he pledged to
change the world and change the United States. But one year has
passed, and Obama has even failed to keep his campaign promise as

simple as closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison. Also, his party
was defeated in every [follow-on] election; furthermore, the
Democratic Party's defeat in the Senate election in Massachusetts
last week was a big warning signal! Obama is running out of
charisma. ... The approval rating for Obama, who previously enjoyed
high popularity, has now dropped to 50 percent. Some claimed that
he is too rational, values logic, but lacks passion, while others
said he lost his father and his mother was not around him when he
was young; he is used to being independent and alone. All those
[attributes] that used to be deemed as his strong points have now
gradually become his weak points.

"In reality, most people know that they had unrealistic expectations
for him [a year ago]. He had such inspiring eloquence, plus the
serious mistakes made by [former President] George W. Bush, so
people put all their hopes on him. Monday he promised to resolve
the problem of climate change; Tuesday he said he would solve the
unemployment problem; Wednesday it was about the financial crisis;
Thursday was educational reform; Friday Afghanistan; Saturday Iraq;
and Sunday, he needed to settle the rest of the problems. He
constantly shows up on TV, still very eloquent, but once people have
got used to seeing him all the time, they lost curiosity. People
are fickle, so his popularity plunges quickly. ... Obama promised
to close down the notorious prison in Guantanamo Bay in a year, and
now the check has bounced. The prisoners are too dangerous to be
released, and since their oral depositions were not acquired
legally, they could not be presented at court. As a result, he
achieved almost nothing when it comes to Israel and Pakistan, Iran,
and Afghanistan. If one hardly achieves anything in the first year
of his term, he will find it more difficult to put his ability to
good use in the following three years. How similar is Obama's
situation to that of Ma's."

4. Google

"Internet -- the United States' Exclusive Weapon"

The "International Lookout" column in the KMT-leaning "China Times"
[circulation: 120,000] wrote (1/26):

""Google' is a business, but it has lost its authority to run its
business once it becomes a political tool. Google wants to stay in
the Chinese market, where there are plentiful business
opportunities. But under the close watch of the U.S. government,
media, U.S. trade association and human rights activists, it finds
itself facing a dilemma. After all, both the U.S. president and the
secretary of state have made open remarks urging it to resist China.
Having turned the matter over in its mind, the Obama administration
still believes that it is more effective to deal with China via the
Internet than to pressure the Renminbi to appreciate. Internet is
the United States' exclusive weapon. ...

"Washington cut off the instant messaging service of Cuba, North
Korea and Sudan last year, opening up a new means of international

sanctions. In the wake of the presidential election in Iran last
year, the Iranian government announced that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was
elected. Yet major websites throughout the United States were
releasing news to the world saying that Mir-Hossein Mousavi of the
opposition party was elected, causing huge chaos in Iran.
Demonstrations and protests nearly turned Iran upside down. The
United States has truly learned that such a means was able to bring
down any political power in a country that it wants to overthrow.

"Because such a soft [means of] mass destruction can be very
powerful, according to international law, a country has the right to
govern and control the Internet as part of its sovereignty. It is
not allowed to use the Internet to overturn a government, spread
pornography and disrupt public order. ... The Obama administration
wants to use Google's [case] to do something against China. The
reactions that such a move will trigger are imaginable, as this is
definitely no small matter."

5. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

A) "Developments in the United States' Asian Policy"

Liu Fu-kuo, research fellow at the Division of American and European
Studies, Institute of International Studies, National Chengchi
University, opined in the China-focused "Want Daily" [circulation:
10,000] (1/26):

"... A combination of the analyses above showed that the axes of the
United States' Asian policy include: deepening bilateral relations
with its alliances and adding new meaning to them, East Asian
security, and the issue and prospects regarding U.S. participation
in regional cooperation in Asia. Key issues derived from such axes
are as follows: the U.S.-Japan security treaty, constructing a new
framework for U.S.-China relations, the nuclear issue on the Korean
Peninsula and security in Northeast Asia, the United States building
a dialogue partnership with the ASEAN nations, and the importance to
re-initiate the APEC call for regional cooperation. ..."

B) "US Arms Sales Crucial for Taiwan"

Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a fellow with
the American Conservative Defense Alliance, opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] (1/26):

"The Obama administration is preparing a new arms package for
Taiwan. Ironically, selling weapons to Taipei may be the best way
for Washington to get out from the middle of one of the world's
potentially most volatile relationships -- the one between China and
Taiwan. Relations between the two are improving, yet the former
continues to point more than 1,300 missiles at the latter. The
threat of military force remains a backdrop to expanding economic
and tourist contacts across the Taiwan Strait. The US is positioned
uneasily between them. Formally committed to the principle of one
China and providing weapons to Taiwan for its defense, Washington
cannot easily square the circle. As the People's Republic of China
(PRC) grows in economic strength and international influence,
pressure will grow on the US' relationship with Taipei. ...

"While the PRC cannot, at least for the foreseeable future, match US
military power, it can create a substantial deterrent capability,
sharply raising the potential cost of US intervention. Beijing's
increasing ability to sink US carriers with submarines and missiles
alone would force any president to hesitate sending the Seventh
Fleet into the strait for battle. As protecting Taiwan goes from
being a guaranteed freebie to a potential catastrophe, Taipei will
no longer be able to rely upon the US. Taiwan has been a good friend
for many years, but few US presidents would decide to protect Taipei
if doing so put Los Angeles and New York at risk. Arms sales offer
the best path out of the Taiwan thicket. ...

"Of course, even fulfilling Taiwan's 'wish list' would not enable it
to defeat China in a full-scale war. But Taipei needs sufficiency
rather than equality -- a military capable of making any attempt at
coercion more costly than the likely benefits of victory. So far
China has been cautious and pragmatic in exercising its increased
diplomatic influence and military power. Taiwan needs enough
military force with enough capabilities to reinforce these good
instincts. Before leaving office the Bush administration resumed
arms sales. Now a new deal is in the works. The PRC responded that
the US 'should respect China's core interests.' Nevertheless, there
should be no US retreat from the principle of selling Taipei the
weapons that it needs for its defense. Taiwanese have built a free
and democratic society. They deserve access to the tools that will
enable them to defend that society.

"Moreover, the best strategy for ensuring a peaceful resolution of
Taipei's status is a robust Taiwanese defensive capability. Selling
arms is a far better option than intervening militarily in any

conflict. To presume that China, with far more at stake than the US,
will forever back down would be a wild gamble. Whether Chinese
concerns are driven more by nationalist passions or geostrategic
concerns, the more direct Washington's involvement, the more
dangerous Beijing's likely response. And there would be no greater
calamity than a war between the US and China. The US should not be
expected to risk major war with nuclear powers to protect other
states, however friendly or democratic. But Washington can help
other nations defend themselves. Selling weapons to Taiwan would
empower it without inserting the US into any cross-strait
crossfire."

STANTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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