DE RUEHIN #1773/01 3590551
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240551Z DEC 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0618
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8815
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0275
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001773
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/P, EAP/PD - NIDA EMMONS
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused December
24 news coverage on the arrival in Taiwan of two giant pandas from
China Tuesday; on Taiwan's sagging economy; and on the continuous
probe into the former First Family of Taiwan's alleged money
laundering cases. In terms of editorials and commentaries, an op-ed
piece in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times,"
written by a senior research fellow at the Atlantic Council of the
United States, discussed U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's
incoming administration and how it should interact with China in the
future. The article suggested that the new administration "indicate
to its allies that they should expect more, not less, from U.S.
engagement with China." A separate "Taipei Times" op-ed piece, on
the other hand, discussed Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's
cross-Strait policy and said Ma's policies "could upset the status
quo" in the Taiwan Strait. End summary.
A) "Obama's Pragmatic View of China"
Yu Tsung-chi, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United
States, opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" [circulation: 30,000] (12/24):
"... Obama is a pragmatist at heart - he sees China not only as an
opportunity but also as a challenge. The nomination of his national
security team - with Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state,
retired Marine General James Jones as national security adviser and
Robert Gates staying on as secretary of defense - signaled that his
China policy would be pragmatic rather than idealistic. All three
of Obama's picks indicate a sweeping shift of priorities and
resources in the areas of national security and foreign policy. They
all know very well that China's cooperation is very important to the
US' domestic and international interests. If one focuses on Asia,
China is definitely the most crucial player the US must deal with.
... But for its China policy to succeed, the US must take several
factors into account.
"First and foremost, the US must tend to its economic crisis and
keep its economy competitive and vibrant. ... The next US
administration will need economic power to bolster the country's
military strength, diplomatic leverage and role as a global leader.
If the US wasn't weighed down by an economic crisis as well as two
wars, Washington would definitely hold more sway over Beijing on
promoting a cooperative and constructive bilateral relationship. In
addition, Washington must remind Beijing that the US wants a
cooperative relationship and is optimistic about a durable mutual
relationship. But the dialogue on democracy, human rights, Tibet and
military build up must be particularly careful. ...
"Moreover, Obama has said the US must strengthen its capacity to
defeat enemies and support friends, and that Washington should renew
old alliances and forge new, enduring partnerships.
"The coming administration should therefore avoid giving China the
impression that Washington is only interested in its relations with
China - even at the expense of making other Asian allies irrelevant.
On the contrary, the new administration should indicate to its
allies that they should expect more, not less, from US engagement
with China. The fact is that most of Asia consists of democracies
such as Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Washington
should indicate to China that reinforcing the multilateral
relationships of its allies is not intended to contain China but to
teach it the rules in Asia: freedom, democracy and respect for human
rights. China is welcome to join the democratic community, but it
is not welcome to take charge of it."
B) "Ma Policies Could Upset 'Status Quo' in the Strait"
Taiwan New Century Foundation President Chen Lung-chu opined in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
"... Since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May this year, he
has broken his election promises and gone against Taiwanese public
opinion by moving rapidly in the direction of unification with his
policy of leaning heavily toward China. ... His policies lead toward
de-Taiwanization and away from Taiwan's sovereignty. Stressing the
idea that cross-strait relations are more important than diplomatic
relations, Ma has called a diplomatic truce with China and seeks to
create an illusory atmosphere of peace between the two countries on
either side of the Strait. This may give the international
community the false impression that Taiwan is willing to become a
part of the PRC. The Ma government has adopted these pro-China
policies with scant regard to the opinions and rights of the public,
aiming to sign a peace accord with China that disregards the
concerns of other interested parties. These unilateral actions by
Ma threaten to upset the long-standing 'status quo' in cross-strait
affairs. What attitude Washington takes in response to these
developments in Taiwan is a matter deserving of everyone's