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

Published: Mon 24 Aug 2009 09:21 AM
DE RUEHIN #1023/01 2360921
R 240921Z AUG 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies continued to focus
news coverage from August 22-24 on the on-going relief efforts and
plans for reconstruction in typhoon-stricken southern Taiwan; on the
spread of H1N1 virus on the island; and on the plummeting approval
ratings of the Ma Ying-jeou administration. In terms of editorials
and commentaries, an op-ed in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
said the United States was eager to provide humanitarian assistance
to typhoon-devastated Taiwan partly because Washington felt that the
Ma administration's immediate acceptance of Chinese assistance and
tilting toward China would have a negative impact on its strategic
interests in the Western Pacific. A news analysis in the
KMT-leaning "China Times" said the natural disaster caused by
Typhoon Morakot has triggered a political competition between the
United States and China in Taiwan. An editorial in the KMT-leaning,
China-focused "Want Daily" on the other hand, discussed U.S.
President Barack Obama's planned visit to China in November. The
article said the status quo across the Taiwan Strait meets the
common interests of China and the United States and those of both
sides of the Taiwan Strait. End summary.
A) "What Are the Intentions Harbored behind [the Ma Ying-jeou
Administration's Initial Decision to] Turn down the U.S.
Joseph Wu, Policy Consultant for the Taiwan Thinktank and Research
Fellow at National Chengchi University's Institute of International
Relations, opined in the pro-independence "Liberty Times"
[circulation: 700,000] (8/22):
"... The Taiwan people are filled with gratitude and admiration for
the United States' coming to [conduct] rescue and relief operations
[in Taiwan]. But, in addition to the United States' earlier private
notice that it could provide us with assistance, U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State Philip Crowley also made a rare announcement on
August 11 openly expressing the [United States'] hope to assist
Taiwan and said that [Washington] had yet to receive any such
request from Taiwan. It seems obvious that in addition to the
serious damage [in the typhoon-stricken Taiwan] and the [Taiwan
government's] slow and chaotic rescue operations, the United States
had also seen the Taiwan government's immediate response about
accepting China's assistance. [Taiwan's] move has confirmed the
suspicion among U.S. policy [makers] about the Ma Administration's
[position of] 'tilting toward China and distancing itself from the
United States and Japan.' [It also proved that the concerns by
[some] important figures in Washington's policy circles that
'China's influence on Taiwan has grown enormous' are no longer
groundless fears. Likewise, the Ma administration's earnest
acceptance of Beijing's assistance but declining that from
Washington and Tokyo gave the United States a feeling that it would
have a negative impact on its strategic interests in the Western
Pacific, and that is why Washington acted so eagerly [in providing
assistance to Taiwan.] There are signs of disaster in the Ma
administration's foreign policy and now is the time for the
administration to conduct an overall review and overhaul of its
national strategy and foreign policy."
B) "A Flooding Has Triggered Political Competition between the
United States and China in Taiwan"
Journalist Lin Ke-lun wrote in an analysis in the KMT-leaning "China
Times" [circulation: 120,000] (8/23):
"The damage brought about by Typhoon Morakot has not only caused
heavy losses for the victims in the typhoon-stricken areas but also
created many 'precedents' for the triangular relationship among the
United States, China and Taiwan: The United States has 'for the
first time' since it severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan sent the
U.S. military to [conduct] rescue operations in Taiwan; 'for the
first time' over the past six decades there have been 'quasi-rescue'
[assistance] provided by mainland China coming to Taiwan. The
island is suffering heavy losses in its typhoon-devastated zones,
while behind it, 'political competition' between the United States
and China is going on. ...
"August 17 was a critical day, when a U.S. marine transport aircraft
carrying rescue supplies landed on the Tainan Airport in the name of
'humanitarian assistance' thirty years after Taiwan and the United
States cut diplomatic ties. On August 17, the U.S. amphibious naval
vessel, USS Denver, carrying four helicopters [arrived] in the
coastal areas off Taiwan... [its] 'Sea Dragon' heavy lift
helicopters started their one-week rescue mission in
typhoon-stricken southern Taiwan until their mission ended Saturday.
Also on August 17, China's Association for Relations across the
Taiwan Strait proposed [to Taiwan to send] ten of its technicians
and pre-fabricated houses. ...
"The coincidence lies in the fact that the United States has again
'shown its flags' on Taiwan on 'August 17,' while the core of the
Sino-U.S. 'August 17 Communiqu' was to oppose U.S. arms sales to
Taiwan. ... The flooding caused by a natural disaster has
accidentally triggered a political competition between the United
States and China in Taiwan, and both sides have 'landed on, and been
received' by Taiwan. ..."
C) "How Taiwan Should Deal with [President] Obama's Visit to China"
The KMT-leaning, China-focused "Want Daily" [circulation: 10,000]
editorialized (8/24):
"U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman announced that U.S. President
Barack Obama will visit mainland China in November. This historical
state visit has attracted the attention of the world and of Taiwan.
Judging from the several previously-held major meetings and exchange
of visits by officials from the two countries, the major subject of
discussions for both sides is cooperation and not confrontation.
"Obama will be the first U.S. president who will visit mainland
China within the first year of his term of office, and such a
political move has highlighted China's increasingly important
position in the United States foreign relations. Unlike the Cold
War era, the international situation has moved from a bilateral to
multi-lateral direction, and seeking intimate cooperation from China
will inevitably become a major element for the future administration
of the U.S. president. ... Given the global financial and
environmental crises, China and the United States will share [more]
common interests in their bilateral relations; for the Taiwan issue,
which has for a long time been 'the most sensitive and core issue in
Sino-U.S. relations,' now we are having better prospects.
Washington has said several times that it is happy to see easing
relations across the Taiwan Strait, and Beijing has also proactively
promoted its relations with Taiwan. It is evident that while
Beijing and Washington are moving toward closer cooperation because
of their common interests, the status quo of cross-Strait relations
not only meets the common interests of China and the United States
but also those across the Taiwan Strait. ..."
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