Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S.-Taiwan Relations, Iraq

Published: Tue 28 Aug 2007 10:41 PM
DE RUEHIN #1972/01 2402241
R 282241Z AUG 07
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage August 28 on President Chen Shui-bian's visit to Central
America; on the DPP's final draft version of its "Normal Country
Resolution" Monday; and on the possible development of casino
tourism in Taiwan. The pro-independence "Liberty Times" front-paged
a banner headline that read "Normal Country Resolution Sets the Tone
for [Taiwan's] Name Change and Writing of a New Constitution."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial criticized the opposition parties for taunting and jeering
at President Chen's efforts to maintain Taiwan's foreign relations.
A commentary in the on-line paper of the centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times," however, criticized President Chen for turning
Taiwan's biggest supporter, the United States, into an enemy. An
editorial in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times,"
on the other hand, lashed out at the United States for failing to
support Taiwan and its democracy. A "China Times" op-ed discussed
the impasse the United States is facing in Iraq. The article said
it is the democracy that Washington sowed in the Middle East that
has ignited the flames of war in the area. End summary.
3. U.S.-Taiwan Relations
A) "Opposition Parties Should Not Taunt and Jeer Taiwan's Efforts to
Maintain [Ties with] Its Allies"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (8/28):
"... It may be said that President Chen Shui-bian's visit to Central
America this time has suffered considerable frustration,
inconvenience and suppression. Not only did the United States
deliberately downgrade the courtesy treatment of Chen during his
transit due to its opposition to the DPP government's push for a
referendum on Taiwan's UN bid, but Taiwan's allies in Central
America also failed to put into words their support for Taiwan's UN
bid in a joint communique signed during the summit. All these
episodes triggered taunts and jeers from the Blue camp, which
lampooned that our allies only take money but refuse to voice their
support for Taiwan, and that Chen's diplomatic efforts were nothing
more than money diplomacy. ...
"... Chen's clarification was in reality aimed at pointing out the
fact that the crux of Taiwan's diplomatic predicament lies in
China's suppression and not any wrongdoings of Taiwan's providing
aid to other countries. Any political party, when becoming the
ruling party, will encounter the same predicament and similar
diplomatic pressure unless it accepts the one-China principle and is
willing to become part of China. ..."
B) "Why Turn the United States into an Enemy?"
Deputy Editor-in-Chief Sheena Chang wrote in the on-line paper of
the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
"... Frankly speaking, Taiwan indeed needs the United States'
support when it comes to its stance in the international community.
The proposals of those minor allies [supporting Taiwan's UN bid]
were nothing but an overture [in the UN]. Only the superpower
United States can really support and sustain Taiwan's international
stance; without the United States' assistance, Taiwan will hardly
see any substantive progress with regard to its attempt to seek more
opportunities to participate in international organizations, because
when it comes to international politics, first it is about strength,
and second numbers.
"The number of Taiwan's allies is far smaller than that of
Beijing's, thus the proposal [of its UN bid] cannot be approved.
But if the United States can help negotiate for Taiwan proactively
and come up with some new arrangements, it will likely create major
breakthroughs for Taiwan's situation in the international community.
In contrast, should Taiwan's biggest support in the international
community change overnight to become obstruction that restrains
[Taiwan], it will generate incalculable damage to Taiwan's national
interests and future development. ... Taiwan cannot wait to seek
support from the United States; how can it annoy this big brother
and turn it into an enemy? Few countries in the world want to
confront the United States, let alone the fact that Taiwan is in
such an inferior situation and its reliance on the United States is
so deep. ..."
C) "No Friend of Democracy in the US"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (8/28):
"The administration of President Chen Shui-bian can be accused of
many things, from sending mixed signals to contradicting itself on
promises it made to its allies. But one thing it cannot be blamed
for is striving to provide Taiwanese with the international space
and recognition they deserve. And those efforts -- even when they
irritate officials in the US State Department and result in
diplomatic jousting of the most juvenile kind -- deserve to be
commended, for they are indeed in the best interest of the nation.
What is truly deplorable is that the US -- Taiwan's supposed ally
and a country that, in his new book The Assault on Reason, former US
vice president Al Gore pompously says brought the gift of democracy
to the world -- would turn to humiliating practices to force
Taiwanese officials into a direction that is not in the best
interest of the people they were elected to represent. Or -- as
seems to be brewing on the horizon -- for it to pressure other
countries into blocking Taiwan from seeking UN membership. ...
"The end result of the White House's unaccountable practices in the
past seven years, in fact, is orders of magnitude worse than
anything Chen could ever do. And yet, on every occasion the White
House has worked against Taiwanese bids to join international
institutions, US officials -- including former US secretary of state
Colin Powell -- will paternalistically, if not condescendingly,
argue that Taiwan should instead work on 'strengthening' or
'consolidating' its democracy, as if speaking to a small child that
is unable to walk on its own. ... Oddly enough, we never hear US
officials call on China to 'strengthen' or 'further' its democracy.
Perhaps it is because Beijing chose to walk down a different path,
one in which the rights and freedoms of the people the Chinese
government supposedly represents can be trampled without
consequences. It would seem, therefore, that when a country has to
deal with the US, being a democracy is in fact a handicap.
"If the State Department and the White House want to dictate
Taiwan's choices, they should at least have the decency to refrain
from couching all of their self-serving policies in democratic terms
that can only make a travesty of this gift to humanity. Taiwan's
democracy, though imperfect like that of all its brethren, is doing
well enough. After all, Cuban President Fidel Castro never offered
to send monitors to oversee elections in Taiwan. The US can't say as
much, ironically. Chen's wildest blunders, about-faces and broken
promises -- all made in the context of the quest for the recognition
of Taiwan -- have not endangered lives or made a joke of democratic
principles. Unlike Washington's own mistakes, his have not resulted
in countless deaths, a gargantuan national debt and a step backward
in what indeed used to be a democratic system that deserved to be
the envy of the world. Which begs the question: Who should be
advising whom on the need to further one's democracy?"
4. Iraq
"U.S.-Style Democracy Ignites Anti-U.S. Flames of War"
Tsai Zeng-jia, associate research fellow at National Chengchi
University's Institute of International Relations, opined in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation 400,000]j (8/27):
"... With regard to the impasse the United States is facing in Iraq
now, some people believe that it is because, following the United
States' toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime, the weak elected
government has made Iraq leaderless. Some, however, interpret it as
a backlash of the radical Islamic forces in the wake of U.S.
military entering Iraq. But if we go to the bottom of the matter, we
find that, to its surprise, the United States' predicament in the
Middle East today is an evil result of its sowing democracy,
something that it is most proud of. The democratic system, whose
power distribution is based on races and religious sects, has broken
the national identification [in Iraq] that used to glue together
different denominations and ethnical forces and put the Middle East
in endless chaos and turbulence. ...
"With its national identification falling apart, the flames of war
ignited by the democratic system have turned the simple power
distribution by denominations and ethnics in the Middle East into
waves of anti-occupation, anti-U.S. and anti-hegemonic powers in
Iraq. ... How [President George W.] Bush is going to put out the
flames of war set by the democracy he sowed is the biggest problem
that the United States is facing in the Middle East nowadays."
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