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

Published: Wed 22 Aug 2007 09:17 AM
DE RUEHIN #1920/01 2340917
R 220917Z AUG 07
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage August 22 on the aftermath of the combustion of a China
Airlines passenger jet in Okinawa Monday; on President Chen
Shui-bian's transit in Alaska Tuesday morning; on local pig farmers'
strong protests Tuesday over the Taiwan government's controversial
decision on the use of ractopamine in pork; on the 2008 presidential
election; and on the largest cluster infection of dengue fever in
nearly 10 years in Tainan. The pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran
a banner headline on page four that said "Transiting the United
States, Bian Protests by Wearing a 'UN for Taiwan' Sticker." The
pro-unification "United Daily News" also ran a banner headline on
page five that read "The Worst-ever Transit Treatment: Bian Arrives
in Alaska and Protests [the United States] by Refusing to Get off
His Plane."
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial said Taiwan's efforts to maintain its independence are
designed to assist the U.S. policy to promote democracy globally.
The article urged Washington not to suppress Taiwan's moves to
maintain its independence and thereby support China's hegemonic
expansion. A commentary in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times"
said President Chen's constant abuse of the credibility of "summit
diplomacy" is the fuse that triggered the United States to humiliate
Taiwan's leaders with "transit diplomacy." A "United Daily News"
analysis commented on President Chen's protest during his transit in
Alaska and said Taiwan's room for survival in the international
community will grow smaller and smaller if it does not have strong
national strength as its backing. Former U.S. Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State Randall Schriver opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" that Taiwan needs "six new
assurances" from the United States. Former AIT Chairman Nat
Bellocchi also opined in the "Taipei Times" calling for more
dialogue between the United States and Taiwan. End summary.
A) "Maintaining Taiwan's Democracy and Independence Is the Joint
Interests Shared between Taiwan and the United States"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 720,000]
editorialized (8/22):
"Chinese President Hu Jintao recently paid a visit to Kyrgyzstan and
Kazakhstan and attended the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization (SCO). He also traveled to Russia to observe the joint
counter-terrorism military drills conducted by the SCO. ... Central
Asia has rich oil resources and is an area of strategic importance.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the
United States directed its war on terrorism at Central Asia, and the
U.S. military deployment in Central Asian countries also aroused
doubts from China and Russi. One of the major functions of the SCO
is to create a platform for China and Russia to join hands with
Central Asian countries in an attempt to prevent the United States
from promoting democracy in Central Asia. Equally importantly, it
is also aimed at preventing Central Asia from becoming a forward
base for the United States to restrain China and Russia. ...
"Judging by this strategic landscape, Taiwan, as a democratic
country, plays a very critical role with regard to the United
States' policy to promote democracy globally. ... In this vein,
maintaining independence and self-determination of democratic Taiwan
so that it can be a driving force to push for democracy globally can
be regarded as a joint interest shared between the United States and
Taiwan. In contrast, if [the United States] adopts an ambiguous
attitude toward cross-Strait issues, sitting idly by and allowing
totalitarian China to invade and occupy Taiwan gradually, China's
aggressiveness will surely expand to covet the Korean Peninsula,
Japan, the South China Sea, and put the Western Pacific under its
shadow, once the Taiwan Strait becomes the inland sea of China.
Should this happen, the serious concern over peace and security of
the Western Pacific area as specified in the 'Taiwan Relations Act'
will certainly become empty talk.
"Over the recent years, China has put on a smiling face covered with
'harmonious world' and 'peaceful rise,' but in reality, it has been
engaged in flagrant efforts proactively to expand its military
buildup, with its national defense budget marking double-digit
growth. China demonstrated its arbitrariness and showed no
hesitation to use force when it comes to its various disputes with
its neighboring countries, particularly Taiwan. Given such
circumstances, Taiwan's efforts in maintaining independence and
self-determination are designed to assist the United States' policy
to promote democracy all over the world. If the United States
regards Taiwan's moves to secure independence as trouble and
suppress it just to cater to China, it will be akin to supporting
China's hegemonic expansion and shooting oneself in the foot. Our
American friends thus must think about this very clearly."
B) "Lee Teng-hui Is Much Braver"
The "Short Commentary" column in the centrist, KMT-leaning "China
Times" [circulation: 400,000] wrote (8/22):
"... Having risen to power seven years ago, the treatment Chen
Shui-bian received when transiting the United States has been
downgraded very quickly. It is really sad to see that Chen started
by being able to receive interviews openly on the streets of New
York and take a boat tour on the Hudson River with [former AIT
Chairperson] Therese Shaheen, to this time where he was not even
allowed to stay overnight and had to protest in such an unusual
manner. ...
"Frankly speaking, the United States, without a doubt, has no right
to interfere with the Taiwan people's basic human rights to conduct
a referendum. But the Bian administration's constant abuse and
overspending of the public credibility of 'summit diplomacy' might
as well be considered as a fuse triggering Washington to humiliate
Taiwan's head of state with 'transit diplomacy.' The Americans have
improperly humiliated Taiwan, but A-Bian has also humiliated
C) "Awkward Itinerary, and Limited Leeway in the International
Journalist Cheng Jen-wen noted in the "News Perspective" column in
the pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000]
"... Affected by the UN referendum, Bian was allowed to stay shortly
in Alaska. This is of course a result of diplomatic confrontation,
also a reflection of the asymmetrical structure of international
political powers, in particular under the U.S. hegemony. ... Given
the extremely imbalanced Taiwan-U.S. relations, for everything it
does Taiwan has to watch the United States' expression for signs of
approval. For the situation between Taiwan and Latin American
countries, and the situation between Latin American countries and
the United States, it is a different issue. ... Compared with Latin
American countries, Taiwan has even [more severely] limited
bargaining chips. Unlike those Latin American countries which dare
to challenge the United States loudly, Taiwan's status in the
international community is in a very unfavorable situation. Given
the pressure of both the United States and China, all Taiwan can do
is to manage to seek very limited leeway for its survival in the
international community.
"While visiting other countries to promote Taiwan's foreign
relations and attempting to protest the U.S. transit treatment with
dignity, President Chen, with only one year remaining in his term of
office, should turn around and think about whether the DPP, having
overturned an authoritarian system, has really strived to enhance
Taiwan's national strength. Without strong national strength as its
support and in the face of squeezing by great powers, Taiwan's room
for survival in the international community will only grow smaller
and smaller."
D) "Taiwan Needs 'Six New Assurances'"
Randall Schriver, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state
for East Asian and Pacific affairs and a founding partner of
Armitage International, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (8/22):
"... The debate over these six assurances is misleading. In
actuality, the most important question here is not whether the US
will publicly repeat the six assurances or not. ... The more
important questions relate to why government officials in Taiwan
feel so insecure and so in need of public reassurance, and what the
US can say and do to help provide genuine reassurance. ...
"It has been over three years since the last major policy address by
a Washington-based, senior US official on US-Taiwan Relations. The
last such occasion was when then-assistant secretary of state James
Kelly testified before the House International Relations Committee
in April 2004 marking the 25th Anniversary of the TRA. In his
testimony, Kelly said, 'our position continues to be embodied in the
so-called 'six assurances' offered to Taiwan by [former] president
[Ronald] Reagan.' While his words were reassuring at the time, I
think over the three years since this testimony, trust between the
US and Taiwan has weakened. Thus there is a need today for a
strong, clear statement from a senior US official that will move us
toward genuine reassurance. If the US government does see fit, I
suggest they not think about reissuing the old six assurances --
rather, they should consider delivering 'six new assurances.'
Crafting a policy message that is appropriate for contemporary
circumstances, including an acknowledgment of the remarkable changes
that have taken place in both China and Taiwan can set us on a
better course.
"The 'six new assurances' might look something like this:
"One, the survival and success of democracy in Taiwan is in the
interest of the US and thus the US government will endorse efforts
that deepen and strengthen Taiwan's democracy. Two, the US will
always honor the TRA, and will continue to pay special attention to
ensure the US government makes available to Taiwan weapons needed
for self-defense, and that the US military maintains the capacity to
resist force in the Taiwan Strait if instructed to do so. Three,
the US endorses cross-Strait dialogue and interactions but will not
pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with the People's
Republic of China (PRC) on terms Taiwan may deem as unfavorable.
Four, issues related to the sovereignty of Taiwan are for the people
of the PRC and the people of Taiwan to decide peacefully themselves;
the US will not formally recognize the PRC's sovereignty over
Taiwan; the US will not support any outcome achieved through the use
of force, nor any outcome that does not enjoy the support among the
majority of the free people of Taiwan.
"Five, the US needs good relations with China to further a broad
range of security interests. However, under no circumstances will
the US seek to curry favor with China by making sacrifices in its
relationship with Taiwan. The US-Taiwan bilateral relationship is a
valuable in its own right and worthy of greater investment. The US
will not agree to 'co-manage' the issue of Taiwan with the PRC.
Six, Taiwan as a successful democracy, a thriving economy, and a
global leader in health and science stands to contribute far greater
as a good citizen of the world. The US will seek to promote
opportunities for Taiwan to participate meaningfully in
international organizations, and will resist pressure to isolate
Taiwan from participating and/or benefiting from the cooperative
work among nations in international organizations."
E) "It's Time for Creativity: Beyond a Referendum"
Nat Bellocchi, former AIT chairman and now a special adviser to the
Liberty Times Group, opined in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 30,000] (8/22):
"Now both sides of the pan-blue pan-green political spectrum support
including a referendum in the next presidential election. In
expressing disapproval of the referendum effort, the US may now have
helped ignite stronger disapproval from China. It is clear that
some means of preventing a serious problem in the Taiwan Strait is
needed, or -- at the very least -- means of minimizing any harm to
US interests. ...
"In terms of continuing policies, China clearly continues its policy
in the same way it always has: Taiwan is a part of China and that's
it. Can the US continue its fundamental policies on cross-strait
issues? Taiwan inevitably cannot. The US has a dialogue with
China, but what is needed is a dialogue between the US and Taiwan
that would keep problems from getting out of control. Referendums
are common in democracies, and having not had one in Taiwan for so
long and then being told not to is not easy. Taiwanese know they
have that right and political leaders are not likely to give it up.
Perhaps the leaders could convince the people that the referendum
could be put off for the time being if the country -- and the
people's livelihoods -- could be lifted now.
"One thing that might contribute to that is a Free Trade Agreement
(FTA). There has been some talk that the US ought to offer an FTA
to Taiwan for a variety of reasons, the main one being that it would
be good for both the US and Taiwan. Perhaps there is some
possibility in that. Whatever can be decided between the US and
Taiwan in that regard would not only contribute to Taiwan's economic
or security matters at home, but would also strengthen its
democratic system. It would also likely be helpful in international
matters -- and for strengthening the US' position in East Asia."
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media