INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Media Reaction: North Korean Missile Test

Published: Thu 6 Jul 2006 03:35 AM
VZCZCXYZ0010
RR RUEHWEB
DE RUEHIN #2294/01 1870335
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060335Z JUL 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0994
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5375
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6582
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002294
SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - ERIC BARBORIAK
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: NORTH KOREAN MISSILE TEST
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage July 6 on North Korea's test-firing of seven missiles,
including a long-range Taepodong-2, toward Japan on Tuesday morning.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, editorials in both the
pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, and the
pro-independence, English-language, "Taiwan News" expressed the hope
that North Korea's missile test would contribute to Taiwan
legislators' review of the U.S. arms procurement bill, since Taiwan
also faces a missile threat. An editorial in the conservative,
pro-unification, English-language "China Post" warned that after the
North Korean missile test, the United States might move closer to
China, and Taiwan might face a more difficult international
situation. An op-ed in the pro-unification "United Daily News,"
however, pointed out the problems China faces with North Korea, and
added that it is not necessary to worry. End summary.
A) "Hope That DPRK's Missile Test Would Arouse Consciousness of
Opposition Parties"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 600,000]
editorialized (7/6):
"... The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) missile test
reminds us of the missile crises in the Taiwan Strait [during
1995-96]. Perhaps North Korea is just bluffing, but China does have
the military capabilities to invade Taiwan. A failed ballistic
missile test by the DPRK is seen by the United States and Japan as
the greatest crisis to their national security; China's missile
test-firing toward Taiwan, however, cannot make opposition parties
abandon their disagreements, or pass the U.S. arms procurement bill
with the consideration of protecting the lives of 23 million Taiwan
people. This is a tragedy of the Taiwan people. Although this is
wishful thinking, we still anticipate that North Korea's test-firing
of its ballistic missiles would arouse the consciousness of the
opposition parties, and make them review the budget for U.S. arms
procurements."
B) "PRC Missile Threat Outranks DPRK"
The pro-independence English-language "Taiwan News" [circulation:
20,000] noted in an editorial (7/6):
"... While we certainly oppose any offensive missile testing in our
region by any power, it cannot be denied that Pyongyang's actions
might have a silver lining for Taiwan in terms of refocusing
attention on the fact that we are the target of the greatest
regional missile threat.
"The People's Republic of China, which Washington is leaning on
heavily to persuade North Korea to come back to talks and cease its
nuclear program, has deployed over 800 medium-range missiles as well
as longer-range Dongfeng 31 missiles of far greater potency
opposition the Taiwan Strait and aimed directly at our shores in
what is undoubtedly a "clear and present danger" to the security of
Taiwan. ...
"... At the very least, the pan-Blue camp should ease their boycott
against the government's proposal to purchase advanced defensive
systems from the Untied States, including antisubmarine aircraft,
conventional submarines and Patriot III-C anti-missiles missiles.
"We should not excessively rely on such defensive systems for our
protection, but it would be highly irresponsible for any government
to allow our people to face missile threats from China or even North
Korea without any defenses whatsoever."
C) "Beware of N. Korea's Military Expansion"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China Post"
[circulation: 30,000] said in an editorial (7/6):
"... Taiwan should be concerned about the missiles tests, too. It
is worth noting that, in trying to prevent North Korea from becoming
a dire threat to world peace, the international community,
especially the United States, will seek to establish closer
relations with mainland China, which is the closest ally of North
Korea. This could make it even more difficult for Taiwan to
cultivate friendships internationally."
D) "North Korea's Missiles Test U.S.-Japan-China Relations"
Lai I-chung, director of the DPP's Chinese Affairs Department,
opined in the pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation:
400,000] (7/6):
"...Some people think that China will have more bargaining chips
than the United States in the Taiwan Strait, because of the DPRK's
nuclear weapons. ... If Beijing is not powerful enough, what kind of
bargaining chips does China have with the DPRK that would allow it
to demand U.S. concessions in the Taiwan Strait? If Beijing is
reluctant to exert its power, it means that China has a fundamental
strategic confrontation, the same as it has with the United States
and Japan. Beijing thus has to answer Washington's questions
regarding its ambiguous role. Since China needs to avoid
confronting the United States with regard to the DPRK, how can it
use the same issue to pressure the United States? Therefore, Taiwan
does not need to make an excessive inference with anxiety; it should
design responding strategies based on observations of the situation
on the Korean Peninsula."
Young
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