Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Arms Procurements, U.S.-

Published: Mon 19 Sep 2005 11:23 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
192323Z Sep 05
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Summary: Major Chinese-language Taipei dailies
focused their coverage September 17-19 on the outcome
of the German elections, and local issues such as the
sighting of a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine in the
Taiwan Strait in July, and President Chen Shui-bian's
upcoming trip to Central America and the Caribbean.
Almost all Chinese-language newspapers in Taiwan
reported in their inside pages on U.S. Department of
State East Asia Bureau Senior Advisor James Keith's
testimony last Thursday before a congressional
commission, in which he said PFP Chairman James Soong
passed on the message to China's President Hu Jintao
last May that President Chen Shui-bian is willing to
engage with Beijing while using a flexible formulation
about what constitutes "one China." The newspapers
also carried the Presidential Office's and People First
Party's denials that Soong was asked to pass this
message to Hu. The pro-independence "Liberty Times,"
Taiwan's biggest daily, ran a banner headline on its
page two September 18 that read: "[Chen Shui-] Bian
reiterated that Taiwan and China are one country on
each side [of the Taiwan Strait."
In terms of the U.S. arms procurement bill, several
Chinese dailies reported in their inside pages that
U.S. Representative Rob Simmons will head a delegation
visiting Taiwan in October to discuss the U.S. arms
procurement bill with Taiwan's opposition parties. The
pro-independence "Taiwan Daily" also carried a front-
page news story September 19 saying former Taiwan
President Lee Teng-hui will hold a march in Taipei
September 25 to call on the Taiwan people to support
the passage of the U.S. arms procurement bill and to
put an end to the boycotts in the Legislative Yuan.
2. In terms of editorials, the pro-unification "United
Daily News" ran an editorial questioning whether Taiwan
wants to engage in an arms race with China. The
editorial said even though the United States plays an
indispensable role in maintaining security across the
Taiwan Strait, that does not mean that Taiwan has to
follow every step the United States takes. A "Liberty
Times" editorial, on the other hand, elaborated on
President Chen's reiteration of "Taiwan and China being
one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait,' saying
Taiwan needs to take action (e.g. rectifying its name
and writing a new constitution) so as to become a
normal country. An editorial in the limited-
circulation, pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan
News" commented on President Chen's planned transits in
the United States en route to Central American. The
editorial urged the DPP government to "utilize the
transit stops to constructively strike a balance
between Washington, Taipei and Beijing." End summary.
1. U.S. Arms Procurement
"Has Taiwan Decided to Walk the Road to an Arms Race?"
The conservative, pro-unification "United Daily News"
[circulation: 400,000] editorialized (9/19):
". What is more worrisome is that the so-called
`security impasse' across the Taiwan Strait may not be
caused by the negligence of any side involved but
possibly by actions taken during conflict between
hegemonies in the Asia Pacific region. In terms of the
U.S. containment of Beijing, Washington has been
adopting more and more of the strategies that it once
used to employ against the former Soviet Union, such as
the island chain defense, stopping Beijing from
acquiring military technology, and forcing Beijing to
engage in an arms race by raising its defense budget
and developing space weapons. Washington's pressure on
Taiwan to pass the arms procurement bill is part of the
United States' plan to force Beijing to engage in an
arms race. The United States appears to plan to wear
down China's economy, and it remains to be seen whether
Washington can achieve its aim. But during this
process of attrition, Taiwan's economy might be
"Given the big picture in which Washington and Beijing
are fighting for hegemonic power, it tests the rulers'
wisdom with regard to how Taiwan can play an
appropriate role. Nevertheless, Taiwan does not
necessarily have to buy all the weapons as requested by
the United States even though it only has limited room
to act on its own. Take the three items of weaponry
that Taiwan plans to buy as an example -- if Taiwan can
make use of the conflict between Washington and Beijing
skillfully, it may likely be able to acquire the
weapons that it needs without having to pay such a high
price. There are precedents that Taiwan can follow. .
"In addition, even though the United States plays an
indispensable role in maintaining security across the
Taiwan Strait, it does not mean that Taiwan has to
follow every step the United States takes. In this
regard, South Korea is a very good example: in the face
of Pyongyang's threats, even though Seoul also has
raised its defense budget, bought and produced many
weapons, and maintains a military alliance with the
United States, it still insists on abiding by its own
independent principle when engaging with the North
Korean administration. ."
2. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations
A) "Without [Moving to] Rectify Its Name and Write a
New Constitution, How Can Taiwan [Claim That It and
China Are] One Country on Each Side of the Taiwan
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation:
600,000] editorialized (9/19):
"A senior adviser to the U.S. State Department said
last week when testifying before the Congress that [PFP
Chairman] James Soong had [passed a message to Beijing]
when visiting China saying that President Chen Shui-
bian is willing to adopt a more flexible approach with
regard to the contents of one China and is willing to
engage in a dialogue with Beijing. But both Chen and
Soong denied it. Chen reiterated last Saturday that he
will never take back or change the remarks he made in
2002 [asserting] that `Taiwan and China are one country
on each side of the Taiwan Strait. .'
"The discourse about `Taiwan and China being one
country on each side of the Taiwan Strait' must be
carried out via actions. Also, corresponding measures
to fulfill this discourse, namely, the moves to rectify
Taiwan's name and write a new Constitution, must be
adopted so as to turn Taiwan into a normal country.
Taiwan people should applaud when President Chen
emphasized that he will not retrieve or change his
statement. But given China's increasingly severe
suppression on Taiwan, verbal announcements alone were
not enough. What Taiwan needs is action.
"It's a pity that when Premier Frank Hsieh assumed his
position, he announced that the government would slow
down the movements to rectify Taiwan's name and write a
new Constitution, the move that will thus slow down the
pace to make Taiwan a normal country. It goes without
saying that Hiseh's announcement is a step moving
backward when it comes to maintaining Taiwan's
sovereignty. What happened [over the past few months]
has proved that the DPP government's efforts in slowing
down the moves to rectify Taiwan's name and write a new
Constitution in exchange for the pan-Blue camp's
agreement for reconciliation and co-existence were
wasted in vain. [On the contrary,] China has been
intensifying its united front tactics against the
island. ."
B) "Striking a Balance in the U.S., Taiwan, China
The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
[circulation: 20,000] commented in an editorial (9/19):
"President Chen Shui-bian will embark on a state visit
to several of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central
America and the Caribbean tomorrow with transit stops
in Miami and San Francisco in the United States. . The
presidential excursion coincides with several major
events affecting the triangular relationship between
the U.S., Taiwan and the People's Republic of China and
therefore provide an essential opportunity for the
Democratic Progressive Party government to utilize the
transit stops to constructively strike a balance
between Washington, Taipei and Beijing. .
". While reinforcing its security alliance in Asia to
contain the spread of influence of the PRC military
build-up, Washington needs Beijing's cooperation on
issues involving North Korea, anti-terrorism and
economic openness.
"In this regard, the timing and context of President
Chen's transit stops will become a testing point for
U.S.-Taiwan relations as well. It is fair to say that
although ties between Taipei and Washington are in
better shape when compared to two years ago, there are
still those in the Bush administration that do not
trust the DPP government. Washington's main concern
continues to be over the impression that the DPP
administration is constantly `pushing the envelope' by
strengthening the symbols of state sovereignty.
"Taiwan should cooperate with the U.S. in terms of
increasing its visibility at the highest level and in
practical and positive ways, but we should take care to
avoid giving the impression that our moves to provide
assistance to members of the world community have a
`gotcha' element that can make other countries and non-
government organizations wary for what Taiwan is
offering because it has strings attached. .
"To maximize the positive effect of his transit and to
avoid misinterpretation from Washington, Chen should
highlight Taiwan's democratic achievements and assets
as well as express the strong desire [of] Taiwan to act
as a partner in the global effort to promote democracy.
. Chen should also reaffirm Taiwan's resolution to
defend itself, in part by restating his position that
defense spending should amount to three percent of our
gross domestic product. We must not leave leaders in
Washington thinking that Taiwan wants the U.S. to be
the sole defenders of Taiwan from PRC aggression while
Taiwanese do nothing to defend their democracy and
sovereignty. .
"Nevertheless, efforts made solely by Taiwan is not
good enough. The Bush administration must refrain from
incorporating a double standard to treat Taiwan in the
course of its engagement with Beijing.
"What Bush should really contemplate is the degree to
which his administration can keep a balance
safeguarding his own national interests and a full-
fledged democratic Taiwan while engaging in building a
`constructive, candid and cooperative' relations with
China. ."
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