Cablegate: Media Reaction: Cross-Strait Relations

Published: Wed 30 Aug 2006 10:45 PM
DE RUEHIN #2993/01 2422245
R 302245Z AUG 06
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused their
coverage August 30 on former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh's campaign
to oust President Chen Shui-bian, President Chen's planned overseas
trip in early September, the 2006 National Defense Report released
by the Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday, and U.S.-Taiwan arms
procurements. The pro-unification "United Daily News" ran a
front-page banner headline that said "United States Refuses to Allow
Air Force One to Land in Guam." The pro-independence "Liberty
Times," Taiwan's biggest daily, however, ran a news story on page
four with the headline "United States Agrees to Let Bian Transit
Regarding U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, several papers covered a
"Defense News" article, which said that the U.S. National Security
Council and the Department of State have both suggested turning down
Taiwan's request to purchase 66 F-16 C/D fighter planes. These
papers also reported on inside pages that during a meeting between
Defense Minister Lee Jye and Legislative Yuan President Wang
Jin-pyng Tuesday, Lee showed Wang a cable from TECRO in Washington,
which mentioned that the United States has been very displeased with
the Legislative Yuan for stalling the U.S. arms procurement bill.
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "China Times"
editorial said whether Chen Yunlin, the director of China's Taiwan
Affairs Office, is able to visit Taiwan in October will serve as a
touchstone to test whether Premier Su Tseng-chang really meant what
he said about cross-Strait opening. An editorial in the
limited-circulation, pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times," on the other hand, criticized Beijing's carrot-and-stick
approach toward Taiwan. The article said "The lack of coordination
between the agencies responsible for carrying out Taiwan policy has
resulted in a situation where each acts as it sees fit, sometimes
even working directly against each other." End summary.
A) "Chen Yunlin's Trip to Taiwan Is Touchstone for Cross-Strait
The pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
editorialized (8/30):
"A glimpse of hope is finally seen in China's Taiwan Affairs Office
Director Chen Yunlin's visit to Taiwan to co-host the 'Cross-Strait
Agricultural Forum.' The spokesman for China's Association for
Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) recently announced:
'ARATS is willing to coordinate with the KMT's National Policy
Foundation to negotiate with an agency specified by Taiwan using an
appropriate name over issues concerning the immigration, security,
and convenience of the mainland [Chinese] personnel [coming to
Taiwan].' Judged from a certain perspective, this statement is a
clear message of a 'goodwill gesture' shown [by Beijing]. After
both sides of the Taiwan Strait have ceased negotiating for so many
years, this time is clearly the most evident change in attitude on
the part of the mainland authorities. ...
"What the ruling party should contemplate now is whether it wants
both sides across the Taiwan Strait to resume talks. If Premier Su
Tseng-chang means what he said with regard to the cross-Strait
opening policy, Chen's visit to Taiwan will clearly be a touchstone.
The best way to make Chen's trip possible is to bypass the familiar
Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), and have the Ministry of Economic
Affairs and the Council of Agriculture go ahead to discuss the
contents and schedule of the forum based on 'how agriculture on both
sides can mutually benefit and complement each other.' But if the
cross-Strait opening spoken of by Su is simply a smokescreen, all he
needs to do is to ask the SEF to get ready, and act as if
'government officials will come forward to talk,' then he can direct
this matter to a highly sensitive area, where it will even attract
the attention of the pro-independence factions of the DPP and the
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU). With a severe lambasting [from the
DPP and TSU], the whole issue will surely blow up. ... In other
words, whether Chen will be able to come to Taiwan is a touchstone
to test Premier Su's cross-Strait opening policy. We hope it will
become a starting point where both sides of the Taiwan Strait can
resume talks, and not another postponement again. Given the many
political upheavals going on in Taiwan, there is not much left that
can make the people feel that the island is changing, and this might
as well be an opportunity for Su to break the deadlock."
B) "The Stick Is Mightier Than the Carrot"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (8/30):
"Chinese President Hu Jintao has used a more pragmatic
carrot-and-stick approach in that country's Taiwan policy by
tightening its already tough approach on certain issues while
softening its stance on others. ... China is mixing up both
approaches so that threats, coercion, promises of benefits and
enticements will eventually compel Taiwan to accept the 'one China'
principle. A lack of overall coordination, however, means that
frequent and sudden policy changes undermine this goal. There are
reports that China - hot on the heels of securing diplomatic
recognition from Chad on the eve of Premier Su Tseng-chang's visit
to that African nation - may try to establish relations with Palau
prior to President Chen Shui-bian's visit to the Pacific island
nation in a few weeks. Superficially, this would embarrass Chen and
provide support to those campaigning to unseat him. For China's
foreign ministry, this may seem a sensible strategy. The result,
however, could be the opposite of what it might expect. ...
"... And if China really does win over Palau on the eve of Chen's
visit, it will be playing into Chen's hands. It would allow him to
redirect the focus of the media from the domestic situation to
foreign affairs, while China's suppression might serve to
consolidate pan-green-camp support. The China factor may also
dampen support for the anti-Chen campaign and strengthen anti-China
sentiment, a situation that Chen would welcome after so many months
of political and personal difficulties. ... Chinese foreign affairs
officials may think spending huge amounts of money to buy over
Taiwan's allies may be a good policy, but cutthroat diplomatic
competition is certain to erase the TAO's achievements. The lack of
coordination between the agencies responsible for carrying out
Taiwan policy has resulted in a situation where each acts as it sees
fit, sometimes even working directly against each other. If this
continues for much longer, Chen will find a way out of his
predicament thanks to his enemies - something he has grown used to
over the decades."
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