Cablegate: Media Reaction: President Chen's National Day

Published: Mon 18 Oct 2004 08:44 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
A) "What Have the National Day Fireworks Lit Up?"
The conservative, pro-unification "United Daily News"
editorialized (10/18):
". President Chen's National Day speech seems to have
been related to the United States in many ways. First,
in the beginning, rumors had it that the draft of
Chen's speech had been reviewed by Washington before it
was delivered; then both Washington and Tokyo responded
to Chen's speech immediately, evidently indicating that
they were both prepared to do so. Then when his speech
failed to get the response from Beijing that was
expected, President Chen went so far as to say that
`Washington had told me that Beijing would respond to
it this way.' All these signs have made people wonder
if Chen's cross-Strait talk was made at the request of
the United States. Some other people also have
speculated that Chen was trying to use this speech to
alleviate cross-Strait tensions in an attempt to curry
favor with the United States.
"Washington believes that the key to improved cross-
Strait ties lies in `resuming dialogue' and `direct
transportation' [across the Taiwan Strait]. In April,
Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly did not mind
taking all the trouble of writing five paragraphs to
elaborate on how both sides of the Taiwan Strait
reached a consensus in the 1992 meeting about different
interpretations by either side of the `one China'
principle, which also led to the Koo-Wang meetings in
1993 and 1998, respectively. . Such a move shows that
Chen referred to the `1992 Hong Kong meeting' in his
National Day address because the U.S. government was
his planned target audience and that such a move was
made at the request of the United States.
"Chen did not touch on the `resumption of dialogue' or
`direct transportation' in his May 20 inaugural speech,
so his National Day speech was like `homework handed in
late.' In Washington's eyes, the `1992 Hong Kong
meeting' that Chen mentioned in his speech may sound
equal to the `1992 consensus' that Washington hoped he
would say. But Washington probably has failed to
notice the difference between the two terms, or maybe
it did not find out that Chen was `playing with words'
until now. As a result, if the National Day speech was
a gift by President Chen to the United States, what
could Washington be feeling now -- surprise at
receiving a gift, or embarrassment at being made fun of
for having complimented Chen on the `constructive'
message of his speech? ."
B) "Incrementalism or Obstructionism"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
commented in an editorial (10/18):
". By issuing another expression of goodwill to the
other side, President Chen earned domestic and
international praise.
"The first and direct benefit will be felt in the DPP's
legislative election campaign, thanks to its rising
capability to build up an image of a moderate and
progressive governing force in Taiwan that can secure
wider support from middle of the road voters.
"Even without a positive response from Beijing, Chen
and his party has skillfully drawn support from both
domestic and external audiences and affirmation on both
fronts will in turn be helpful to the DPP's campaign. .
"In either case, the key priority for Taiwan's
leadership is to minimize the chance of any severe
crises or military confrontations [across the Taiwan
"International influence, particularly from the United
States and Japan and other great powers, should play a
more significant role in both mediation and monitoring
the maintenance of peace. A framework of peace is
essentially needed to craft a stable and constructive
cross-strait relationship. Only through talks and
exchanges of different views can a predictable and
institutionalized framework for cross-strait
interaction be advanced."
C) "Can Chen's Gesture Be Turned into Real Policy?"
Freelance writer Ku Er-teh noted in the pro-
independence, English-language "Taipei Times" (10/18):
". Chen certainly shoed goodwill in his [National Day]
address, although to what degree he was sincere is a
little more difficult to fathom. Can this goodwill be
translated into actual policy? Some would say the most
important thing is how the Chinese will respond to it,
but even more important is whether or not Chen's team
prepare their own contingency plan prior to
implementing any such policy.
"It turns out that the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of
National Defense, and even the Presidential Office had
no idea what Chen was going to say in his address.
Based on this, it seems that his words were simply
intended to communicate his good intentions, but for
what purpose?
"I'm afraid that the consequences of Chen's words might
not have been thought through. But at least the
Americans noticed Chen's goodwill."
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