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


DE RUEHIN #0179/01 0531004
R 221004Z FEB 10




E.O. 12958: N/A

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their news
coverage February 13-22 on the island-wide celebrations of the Lunar
New Year, on the upcoming legislative by-elections and the year-end
five city and county magistrates' elections, and on a minor
personnel reshuffle in the Cabinet. Several editorial pieces --
including a column in the mass-circulation "Apple Daily," an op-ed
in the pro-unification "United Daily News," an editorial in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" -- all discussed
U.S. President Barack Obama's recent meeting with the Dalai Lama and
its impact on Sino-U.S. relations. A separate "Taipei Times" op-ed
discussed U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and said "the US relationship
with a democratic Taiwan is valuable in its own right and should not
be subordinated to or become merely a function of US-China
relations." End summary.

A) "Entr'acte by the White House"

Columnist Antonio Chiang wrote in his column in the mass-circulation
"Apple Daily" [circulation: 520,000] (2/22):

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"Regardless of China's firm opposition and strong protests, [U.S.
President Barack] Obama had an over one hour closed-door meeting
with the Dalai Lama. ... Had Obama decided not to meet with the
Dalai Lama, his prestige would have suffered a heavy blow, both
domestically and internationally. He was facing difficulties over
which he had no control, and Beijing was clearly aware of that. The
exchange of criticisms between the two sides was like an 'entr'acte'
in the Beijing opera -- a short play that adds no actual value to
the opera itself but has to be performed no matter what. ...

"Beijing believes that time is on its side, so it simply watches
just how long and how far the Dalai Lama can travel around the
globe. The chances are slim for the Tibet issue to be resolved
during the lifetime of the Dalai Lama, yet his persistence and
fortitude in pursuit of freedom and human rights have moved and
inspired numerous souls. The Tibet issue will never come to a stop
with the end of the Dalai Lama's life."

B) "With Two Rocks [Lying ahead], Will China and the United States
Step out of the Doldrums?"

Chen Wei-hua, Director of International Affairs, Transparency
International's Chapter in Taiwan, opined in the pro-unification
"United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (2/21):

"... Despite the fact that Beijing and Washington have had clashes
recently over trade protectionism, freedom of speech on the
Internet, and [U.S.] arms sales to Taiwan, such rows are all within
the scope that both nations are able to manage. The intimate trade
relations between these two nations also make it impossible for both
sides to suffer the pain of separating from each other. It is
foreseeable that in the wake of [President Barack Obama's] meeting
with the Dalai Lama, Sino-U.S. relations will face two challenges
successively -- 'the appreciation of the Renminbi' and 'sanctions
against Iran'. ... In addition, the United States is scheduled to
hold an 'International Nuclear Safety Summit' in Washington D.C. in
April. Following the meeting with the Dalai Lama, the United States
is sure to create an atmosphere of international cooperation. It
remains to be seen whether Sino-U.S. relations will step out of the
doldrums because of their need for each other."

C) "Beijing Needs to Turn down the Heat"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (2/22):

"... There is a certain pattern of events when it comes to relations
with China that every US president has had to face. The first phase
is characterized by working hard to create an amicable atmosphere.
In the second phase, frictions appear as the US president addresses
practical issues and this is where relations become more tense. The
third phase is where the two sides accept their differences and find
ways to work together, feeling out their counterpart's bottom line
and gradually moving into the fourth, more pragmatic phase. Obama
is already into the second year of his presidency and his inbox is
piling up. Predictably, Sino-US relations are entering a testing
phase. The sabers are already drawn, with recent tensions over
economic issues, the Google hack attacks and US arms sales to
Taiwan. Obama's decision to meet the Dalai Lama added fuel to the
fire, giving the more hawkish elements in Beijing an excuse to push
for a harder line against the US. This is likely to cause a cooling
of relations that will take us into more unpredictable territory.

"As China's power and influence in international matters grows it is
going to have more opportunities to compete as well as cooperate
with the US in international affairs and trade. As it does so, it is
going to become more difficult to sweep any differences of opinion
or conflicts of interest under the carpet. Both sides are going to

have to learn the benefits of cooperation and 'constructive
conflict.' If China feels the need to turn up the heat, it risks
not only damaging bilateral relations with the US, but also of
reversing the current trend of regional integration and replacing it
with a polarization of international relations that would do no good
for China, the US or the international community. Both China and the
US are currently facing a range of domestic challenges and in future
they are going to have to address a number of issues together, such
as stabilizing the global economy, dealing with climate change and
preventing weapons proliferation. These issues are going to require
cooperation and China would do well to recognize the differences it
has with other countries and make an effort to tone down its
confrontational behavior."

D) "Justifying US Arms Sales to Taiwan"

Parris Chang, a professor emeritus of political science at
Pennsylvania State University and former deputy secretary-general of
Taiwan's National Security Council, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (2/22):

"... Obama should be praised and congratulated for standing firm and
making the right, courageous decision on arms sales and the meeting
with the Dalai Lama, not allowing Chinese leaders to use threats to
adversely affect US policy and the national interest.
Taiwan-US-China relations have made great progress in 30 years. Wise
and balanced US arms sales to Taiwan have contributed to the peace
and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region, and
have made the incipient Taiwan-China detente possible. On the other
hand, however, China continues to build up its offensive military
capabilities along the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan's military
capabilities have fallen further behind those of the PRC, hence it
is imperative that Obama should resist China's pressure and, as soon
as possible, make available to Taiwan the advanced F-16C/D fighters
that it needs to deter military coercion and defend itself.

"There is no reason for Washington to believe that Taiwan's
unification with China is desirable or inevitable. The three Sino-US
Communiqus do not commit the US to Taiwan's unification with China
-- and democratic changes in Taiwan have precluded it. The US
relationship with a democratic Taiwan is valuable in its own right
and should not be subordinated to or become merely a function of
US-China relations."


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