INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Arms Procurements

Published: Fri 9 Dec 2005 08:40 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS TAIPEI 004839
SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - ERIC
BARBORIAK
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S. ARMS PROCUREMENTS
1. Summary: Major Chinese-language Taiwan dailies continued
to focus their coverage December 9 on the personnel
reshuffle in the DPP and Cabinet, the planned merger between
the KMT and the PFP, and other local issues. The pro-
independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, ran a
banner headline on its front page that read: "Two Kidd-class
Frigates Arrive in Taiwan." The pro-unification "United
Daily News," on the other hand, carried the latest results
of a poll survey on its front page, which said 57 percent of
the people polled said they do not support the idea of PFP
Chairman James Soong running for Taipei City mayor.
2. In terms of U.S. arms procurement, the "Liberty Times" is
the only paper that carried a Reuters news story on its page
two with the headline: "U.S. Military Leader Urges Taiwan to
Continue Pushing for the Arms Procurement Bill." In
addition, an editorial in the limited-circulation, pro-
independence, English-language "Taipei Times" said
Washington blasts Taiwan for not spending enough on defense
but refuses to approve weapons systems that Taiwan's Defense
Ministry had requested. The editorial also criticized the
Bush administration's incompetence and arrogance, saying
"the lasting effects of his foreign policy blunders may take
years to bear bitter fruit for the U.S., but they are
already degrading his country's options here." End summary.
"Bush, an Emperor with No Clothes"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] said in an editorial (12/9):
"The Bush administration has proven itself adept at
undermining the political and the strategic standing of the
U.S. across the globe. . Most importantly - from Taiwan's
perspective - the optimism that greeted Bush's outspoken
support for this country in 2001 in the face of China's
threatening attitude has now disintegrated. Bush and his
advisers appear to be at a loss as to the implications of
developments in Taiwan's political arena, and this has been
reflected in the way Washington deals with such contentious
issues as the procurement of US arms. .
". Washington blasts Taiwan for not spending enough on
defense, even as it refuses to approve weapons that the
Ministry of National Defense has requested. . The U.S.'
reasoning was that these weapons are offensive, not
defensive, in nature. One does not have to be a Clausewitz
fanatic to understand that in terms of the strategic
application of military power, Taiwan is in no position to
launch an assault on China. And since this is the case, why
limit the tactical options available to Taiwanese
commanders, should they one day have to defend their
country? .
"Yet this disconnect in U.S. policymaking is not the
provenance of the military alone, and it speaks of a
misunderstanding of Taiwan's political situation. Many
Taiwan observers in the US have interpreted the Democratic
Progressive Party's tribulations, and the subsequent support
that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has received,
incorrectly.
"There is no question that the fortunes of the
administration of President Chen Shui-bian are at a low ebb,
and that the status of KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou is rising.
However, analysts should be careful to interpret this
phenomenon in the context of domestic politics, and not as
an indication of a major shift in Taiwanese attitudes toward
cross-strait policy. .
"Incompetence and crass arrogance have been a hallmark of
bush and his Cabinet since his first day in office. It is
only recently that this has translated into a lack of
support for him domestically. The lasting effects of his
foreign policy blunders may take years to bear bitter fruit
for the U.S., but they are already degrading his country's
options here."
PAAL
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