DE RUEHIN #2643/01 3600932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260932Z DEC 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7665
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7583
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8854
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 002643
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - NIDA EMMONS
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: SECRETARY RICE'S STATEMENT ON TAIWAN'S UN
1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused
December 22-26 news coverage on Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice's criticism of Taiwan's referendum on a bid to enter the UN
under the name of "Taiwan" as "provocative," and President Chen
Shui-bian's response. Meanwhile, where the mausoleums of Chiang
Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo should be moved to also attracted much
media attention as it may become another campaign issue for the
2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an editorial in the
pro-independence "Liberty Times" urged the U.S. to pay more
attention to China's moves aimed at changing the status quo. The
pro-independence, English-language daily "Taiwan News" questioned in
an editorial U.S. support for Taiwan's democracy. A commentary in
the pro-independence, English-language daily "Taipei Times" said the
UN referendum can be a bargaining chip for Taiwan. The centrist,
KMT-leaning "China Times" editorialed that the U.S. has been
ignoring the changes in Taiwan public opinion as its self-identity
grows. Another commentary in "China Times" speculated that the U.S.
is holding bargaining chips to compel Chen Shui-bian to submit [to
U.S. pressure]. The conservative, pro-unification, English-language
daily "China Post" said in an editorial that both the Taiwan
representative in Washington and the U.S. representative in Taipei
should go home because they failed to accomplish their missions
regarding the UN referendum. End Summary.
A) "How can the U.S. Be Indifferent to China's 'Changing the Status
Quo' across the Taiwan Strait"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation 720,000]
"... The U.S. is concerned about the referendum on Taiwan's bid to
enter the UN because of worries that the cross-Strait status quo
would be disrupted. There is agreement about this between the U.S.
and Taiwan. However, we believe the U.S. has made a mistake over
the object of its concern. It is not Taiwan but China, which has
constantly kept changing the status quo. One of the moves is
the...new air route only 4.2 nautical miles away from the center
line of the Taiwan Strait. This is constraining Taiwan's national
defense depth. In order to maintain the status quo, shouldn't the
U.S. express its concern [over this] more actively? The purpose of
the 'Taiwan Relations Act' is to 'help maintain the peace, security,
and stability of the West Pacific.' As the U.S. is concerned about
the 'four-noes,' should it in fact be more concerned about the
premise: 'as long as China does not intend to use force against
B) "U.S. Must Respect Strategic Value of Taiwan Democracy"
The pro-independence, English-language daily "Taiwan News"
[circulation: 20,000] editorialized (12/25):
"... Regretfully, Rice repeated Washington's misunderstanding that
the referendum on whether to join the UN under the name of 'Taiwan'
is a government 'policy' and ignores the fact that the initiative is
being put on the ballot together with the presidential election on
March 22 because of signatures of 2.72 million Taiwan citizens and
not because of a decision by President Chen Shui-bian.
"... Indeed, Rice's statement confirms suspicions that Washington
does not actually take the promotion or the consolidation of
democracy as a serious foreign policy priority. Apparently for the
sake of Bush's illegal war in Iraq and misguided 'war on terrorism,'
Washington has now willingly transformed itself from being the
world's most important advocate of democracy and freedom into a
parrot of the PRC's Taiwan Affairs Office.
"... The U.S. may indeed need greater cooperation from the PRC, but
Washington should not naively ignore the very real possibility that
the PRC is using its growing economic, military and diplomatic clout
to revamp the world community in its own authoritarian image and
turning the Bush administration into a tool for the consolidation of
PRC neo-authoritarian dominance in Asia. We urge rational voices in
the U.S. government and Congress and other informed opinion leaders
to carefully consider the long-term interests of the democratic camp
in Asia and the world and cease further actions to 'contain' Taiwan
democracy before it is too late."
C)"Let's Deal with Our Own Problems"
Professor Lee Hsiao-feng, Graduate School of Taiwan Culture,
National Taipei University of Education, wrote in the
pro-independence, English-language daily "Taipei Times"
[circulation: 30,000] (12/24):
"... The US has the same problem. Though they claim not to support
Taiwanese independence, they cannot avoid intervention if China
invades Taiwan. This is why the US does not want Taiwan to 'make
trouble.' What Washington really means is that Taiwan should not
make trouble for the US.
"Should we try to lighten the burden on the US and China by leaving
Taiwan in a situation where it is continually oppressed or should we
manage our own plight, leaving the US and China to deal with their
"The answer is the latter, and the referendum is a great solution:
It expresses the desire of the Taiwanese for formal independence,
but does not immediately sink China and the US into an extremely
"... They would, though, have to ask: 'What's next?'
"And when they start asking us for the next move, it indicates that
we are no longer in the passive position of being oppressed. Hence
the referendum also functions as a bargaining chip, allowing us to
secure our ground and advance as we choose. ..."
D) "After the 'Provocative' Disturbance, Will the U.S.-Taiwan Rift
Become Even Wider?"
The centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation: 400,000]
"Four or five years ago, if one said the U.S. would strongly
criticize Taiwan again and again, probably neither the U.S. nor
Taiwan would believe it. Yet today the U.S. has been stepping up
its criticism against Taiwan, and the rank of the official leveling
the criticism is getting higher. But Taiwan seems to be getting
used to it and has repeatedly talked back. If this continues, will
U.S.-Taiwan relations see some fundamental changes?
"... The U.S. government does not pay attention to public opinion in
Taiwan at ordinary times. It underestimates the political effects
resulting from the growth of Taiwan's self-identity and lacks a
forward-looking cross-Strait policy. It only resolves immediate
problems. When problems appear, it often asks Taiwan to compromise
and make concessions. When things calm down, it presumes there is
no longer any problem. The Taiwan people therefore feel betrayed by
the U.S. and have less good feeling for and trust in the U.S.
"... How can the U.S., which has been Taiwan's largest support and
encouragement, from maintaining its security to its freedom and
democracy, explain to Taiwan that it can only proceed with its
democratization to a certain extent and cannot have the same status
and dignity as other countries? For the people of Taiwan this is
unacceptable discrimination and hypocrisy. The reason for the
Taiwan people's disappointment and dissatisfaction comes from not
only the event of the referendum, but the fact that Taiwan's
national development and interest are now in conflict with those of
"However, the U.S. seems to care little about this more fundamental
and far-reaching issue. Therefore, even if the referendum
disturbance passes without any complications, U.S.-Taiwan relations
will continue to face undercurrents. Compared to places like the
Middle East, there is, in fact, more room for flexibility in
designing a new cross-Strait policy. However, if the U.S. cannot
think of a new cross-Strait policy with a future perspective and
only tries to delay a resolution as long as possible by following
the old thinking, then there will continue to be one sharp
disturbance after another in the U.S.-China-Taiwan relationship."
E) "Does the U.S. Have Bargaining Chips to Force Chen Shui-bian to
Professor Edward I-hsin Chen, Graduate Institute of American
Studies, Tamkang University, commented in the centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times" [circulation: 400,000] (12/24):
"... The bargaining chips of the U.S. include Chen Shui-bian's
family's accounts in U.S. banks, his private promises to the U.S.,
(which may be unfavorable for his becoming the head of the Green
camp), and the U.S. commitment and arrangements for Chen after he
leaves office. However, the U.S. will show the cards one by one
rather than all at once to force Chen Shui-bian to submit. This
step-by-step approach is clearly reflected in remarks made by AIT
Chairman Raymond Burghardt during his visit in Taiwan. In addition,
one can also see signs that the U.S. is pressuring Bian in the
statements made by Central Election Committee officials on the
one-step or two-step voting format.
"... If the Blue and the Green camps can reach a compromise
regarding the one or two-step dispute and Ma Ying-jeou and Frank
Hsieh can walk out of the shadow of lawsuits against them and
concentrate on campaigning, these will be proof that the U.S. does
have the bargaining chips to interfere in an election in Taiwan that
may have been unfair in the first place [i.e., unfair until the U.S.
allegedly used its bargaining chips to interfere]."
F) "Wu, Young Should Go Home"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language daily "The China
Post" [circulation: 30,000] editorialized (12/25):
"President Chen Shui-bian has hit back at U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice's criticism of his plan to hold a referendum on
joining the United Nations as Taiwan as being 'provocative.'
"The president's unprecedented rebuke of the U.S. secretary of state
will further strain relations between Taipei and its mentor and
protector, the U.S.
"... Rice is the highest-level U.S. official to have warned Taipei
against holding the referendum alongside the presidential elections
on March 22. Since August, Washington has repeatedly cautioned Chen
against his plan to stage the vote in conjunction with presidential
"Joseph Wu and Stephen Young should go home for missions