Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan
DE RUEHIN #0135/01 0350845
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040845Z FEB 10
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3269
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9686
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 1071
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000135
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. ARMS SALES TO TAIWAN
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused February 4
news coverage on the possible change in control of a local
department store; on the legal cases involving former President Chen
Shui-bian and his family; and on the year-end five city and county
magistrates' elections. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a
column in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily" discussed the U.S. arms
sales to Taiwan and the possible sanctions Beijing will impose on
U.S. companies selling weapons to Taiwan. The article said the
sanctions will damage China first before they harm the United
States. A column in the KMT-leaning "China Times" also said Beijing
is facing a dilemma in the wake of Washington's announcement of arms
sales to Taiwan. End summary.
A) "How Is Beijing Going to Punish the United States?"
Columnist Antonio Chiang wrote in his column in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 530,000] (2/4):
"Beijing reacted unyieldingly against the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan,
pledging to impose sanctions on relevant U.S. companies. Beijing
also warned that international cooperation between China and the
United States would be affected as well. Such open challenging is
more of an emotional nature ..., and its consequences will damage
China first before they harm the United States. The U.S. companies
that will be punished by Beijing for selling weapons to Taiwan
include the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Lockheed Martin
Corporation, and the Boeing Company. ... These companies are all
important members of 'China's lobbying group,' and it will be
interesting to learn how Beijing is going to impose sanctions on
"China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it will suspend
military exchanges between the two countries, postpone the deputy
ministerial-level consultations on strategic security, arms control
and non-proliferation issues, call off the visit by the U.S.
secretary of defense, and cancel the meeting between China's chief
of the general staff and the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of
Staff. In reality, such exchanges are more of symbolic significance
than substantive importance -- it is hardly worth it to have them
but not bad enough to discard them. Having these programs either
canceled or postponed will only make Washington breathe a sigh of
"When it comes to international issues, Washington badly needs
Beijing's assistance, particularly on Iran and Pyongyang's nuclear
issue. The chances are slim though for China to abandon cooperation
with the United States and return to its old ways of boycott. On
the Iranian issue, the move will surely make Europe feel repugnant.
As for North Korea's nuclear problem, which is of vital importance
to China, if Beijing holds a passive attitude, it will lose its
leading role on the matter.
"It is due to the United States that China is able to see its
international position rise dramatically in the past few years.
Beijing teaming up with Washington does more good for China than for
the United States. If Beijing decides to adopt a passive manner and
boycott, it will create a lot of difficulties for Washington, but it
will also put China's international position, international image
and its influence in an unfavorable position. Which side will lose
more if Hu Jintao has to change his [planned] visit to the United
States? It is foreseeable that China's sanctions on the United
States will be much talk but little action. ..."
B) "How Is Beijing Going to Give Equal Consideration to the Two
Journalist Wang Ming-yi wrote in the "Observation from Beijing"
column in the KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 120,000]
"During the process of China's peaceful rise, there are two 'general
aspects' that have always been the 'unbearable heaviness of being'
in the minds of the leaders in Beijing: One aspect is the strategic
cooperation between the United States and China, and the other is
the peaceful development of cross-Strait [relations]. The problem
is that these two aspects often stand on opposite sides to each
other. The U.S. arms sales to Taiwan that has again got on the
diplomatic nerves between Washington and Beijing lately have put
Beijing in a dilemma. ... But given the rise of China's national
strength in general and its increasing confidence in
decision-making, Beijing will nonetheless exercise restraint in its
measures to protest against [the sales] and impose sanctions on U.S.
companies manufacturing weapons systems. Even if [U.S. President]
Obama's scheduled meeting with the Dalai Lama in late February will
likely trigger another round of protests, it is certain that
Washington and Beijing, in consideration of the overall situation,
will try to keep their relationship in a state of 'fighting but not
breaking up.' ...
"Previous experience with the interactions between Washington,
Beijing and Taipei shows that arms sales have always been a
complicated and difficult matter. Beijing should have learned by
now that not only the Republican Party, but also the Democratic
Party, will sell fighter jets to Taiwan. By the same token, not
just Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian have purchased weapons and
missiles, but it will be unlikely for Ma Ying-jeou to give up arms
procurements. [At the end of the day,] it all comes down to the
lessons Beijing's leaders will learn from the complicated
interactions in international politics."