This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TAIPEI 001110
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/RSP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - ROBERT PALLADINO DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: CHINA'S ANTI-SECESSION LAW
1. Summary: Reactions to China's passage of the Anti- Secession Law dominated news coverage in Taiwan newspapers March 15, as major Chinese-language dailies dedicated an average of six pages to the issue. In addition to denunciations of the law by Taiwan officials and politicians, all major newspapers carried comments by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi; Rice's and Koizumi's comments were used emphasize that China's law has international ramifications and to suggest that Washington and Tokyo might take measures in response to it. The centrist "China Times" reported that White House Spokesman Scott McClellan called the passage of the law "unfortunate" in a front-page story headlined "President Bush is Displeased with China." The conservative, pro-unification "United Daily News," citing unnamed senior officials, said in a page-three story that President Chen Shui-bian has put on hold his formal reaction to the Anti-Secession Law pending further U.S. announcements on the issue. According to this report, Taiwan must cooperate closely with the United States because the United States and Japan are the ones to do battle with China over the Anti-Session Law, not Taiwan. The pro-independence "Liberty Times," Taiwan's largest daily, said in a page-two article that China's Anti-Secession Law is seen as a factor for consolidating the U.S.-Taiwan-Japan alliance.
2. Editorially, all the major Taipei dailies articulated strong opposition to China's passage of the Anti-Secession Law. Editorials of the pro-independence "Liberty Times," "Taiwan Daily," and English-language "Taipei Times" called Beijing's Anti-Secession Law a "war bill" and urged the international community to take concrete actions to express their grave concern about the law. In addition to expressing opposition to the law, a centrist "China Times' editorial presented the law both as a crisis and a turning point. It cautioned both sides of the Taiwan Strait to exercise restraint at this critical moment so as not to fall into a vicious cycle of reaction and counter-reaction. The pro-unification "United Daily News" also ran an editorial protesting Beijing's passage of the law, but called upon Taiwan's rulers to examine their previous policies, which the editorial said "has misruled the nation." An op-ed piece in the "China Times" commented on the challenges the United States will have to face in the aftermath of the passage of the Anti-Secession Law. End summary.
A) "The `Anti-Secession Law' Proves That the Soft Means [of Beijing's Policy] Becomes Hard and the Tough Means Becomes Even Tougher'"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" editorialized [circulation: 800,000] (3/15):
". China's legislation of the anti-secession law seems to be legislation of a domestic law, but actually it has constitutes aggressive conduct, or at least quasi- aggressive conduct. China asserts that `Mainland China and Taiwan belong to one China' despite the fact that Taiwan's sovereignty does not belong to China. China's intention to invade and annex Taiwan is not allowed by international law. .
"Today, we advocate that the international community do at least the following to express deep concern about China's passage of the anti-secession law: First, slow down the speed of investment in China and cut back China's opportunities for trade. The reason [for this] is because China does not emphasize human rights and its economic growth has been used to increase its [military strength], not to enhance the standard of living of its people. Second, maintain the arms-sales ban on China; otherwise, China will increasingly be able to threaten Taiwan, and [any future resulting] interference by the international community with respect to China's use of force against Taiwan will [be paid with] an unaffordable [high] price. Third, incorporate Taiwan into the system of regional security, and be ready to counter China's use of force. Fourth, demand that China accelerate its democratic reforms, and avoid the communist style of autocratic rule that keeps putting the world in jeopardy. ."
B) "[Taiwan] Severely Blasts `Brazen China' for Passing the `Brazen Legalism' That Boldly Attempts to Use Force Against Taiwan"
The pro-independence "Taiwan Daily" [circulation: 150,000] editorialized (3/15):
". China has passed its `Anti-Secession Law' in an attempt to alter the status quo [in the Taiwan Strait] and to use force to attack Taiwan. Beijing has totally ignored all the goodwill gestures shown by President Chen since he assumed office. We believe that [Beijing's move] is tantamount to provocation against Taiwan's sovereignty - a highly hostile behavior toward Taiwan. Under such a situation, our government, of course, cannot continue adopting moderate cross-Strait policies without limit. In the future, all cross- Strait-related policies must be adjusted and suspended accordingly. In addition, [Taiwan] must appeal to the international community protesting China's arbitrariness in passing the `anti-secession law' and damaging world peace. Taiwan should also declare to the world it [reserves the right] to conduct a defensive referendum and enact an `anti-annexation law. .'"
C) "Taiwan Must Act, But Carefully"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation: 300,000] commented in an editorial (3/15):
"China has passed the `anti-secession' law despite vehement protests in Taiwan and objections from the international community. The actual wording of the law mentions the use of `non-peaceful' means - a euphemism for military action. The law insists on Beijing's right to use `non-peaceful' means to counter any moves toward the independence and to bring about unification. For all intents and purposes, it is a license to go to war. .
"The law's most egregious flaw is its violation of the international community's consensus about `maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait,' whereby Taiwan should not declare independence and China should not use force. The law crosses the line. Even if Taiwan does not declare independence, if China decides that independence is taking place, Taiwan is being interfered with by `foreign forces,' or the `possibilities for peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted' - as Article VIII states - Beijing can attack Taiwan. ."
D) "The Crisis and the Turning Point of the Anti- Secession Law"
The centrist, pro-status quo "China Times" observed in an editorial [circulation: 600,000] (3/15):
". [F]acing objective reality since the anti-secession law has been legislated and has been put into practice . we consider it necessary at this critical moment to remind the authorities and political parties across the Strait to restrain themselves and to avoid the negative cycling of countering each other. Since China is the troublemaker this time, it has to be low-key and to control itself when facing questions [and] censure from the international community, especially reactions, oral objections, or even protests from Taiwan. China also has to show good will and fix the cleavage [in cross- Strait relations]. .
"Comparatively speaking, Taiwan is a victim of . China's legislation of the anti-secession law. Taiwan should definitely react to the restraints [imposed by the international community]. Reactions, however, differ from countermeasures, and the degree of strength that applies to reactions is a fundamental test of the wisdom of Taiwan politicians. The worst scenario is to make a drastic reaction, or even take a risk by declaring the timetable for Taiwan independence. By doing so, Taiwan will make itself a new troublemaker, and will give China an excuse to adopt non-peaceful measures [toward Taiwan]. The worse scenario is to reject the three proposals raised by China's Premier Wen Jiabao, or to even close the door for cross-Strait exchanges. This would lead Taiwan to a dead end. A better strategy is to say out loud what Taiwan should say [regarding its opposition to the anti-secession law], make use of China's good will and cultivate Taiwan's competitive ability. The best choice is to make use of the dissatisfaction of the international community toward China, to seek space in the international community for Taiwan, and to enhance the national dignity of the Republic of China. ."
E) " [Taiwan] Must Protest against China, But [Taiwan's] Rulers Should Also Review and Examine Their Responsibilities in Inappropriately Governing the People and Humiliating the Country"
The pro-unification "United Daily News" editorialized [circulation: 600,000] (3/15):
". Hence, as far as the authorities are concerned, although it is time to encourage the public to orally protest [China's move], the more important thing is that it is also time to review the inappropriate governance that has led to the humiliation of the country, and to elaborate on `conciliation and co- existence.' Suppose the authorities merely plan to point the guns toward outside [enemies] and switch the focus of the people by holding a rally . this is definitely not in accordance with the principle of proportions. .
"One year ago, President Chen asserted that `the Five Nos no longer exist,' started the names-change plan and constitutional reform, and held a rally; after Chen forced China to legislate the anti-secession law and after Chen's incompetent governance of Taiwan, all that Chen can do is to hold another bigger rally. No matter if the purpose is to propose a policy (names-change plan and constitutional reform), or to face the consequences of failed policy (the presence of the anti- secession law), President Chen does nothing but plan a rally?"
F) "The New Strategic Situation among the United States, Japan, China, and Taiwan"
Lin Cheng-yi, research fellow at the Institute of International Relations, National Chengchi University, wrote in an op-ad article in the centrist, pro-status quo "China Times" [circulation: 600,000] (3/15):
". After the `anti-secession law' has been made public and put into practice, the challenges for the United States include: Firstly, the power that dominates the explanation of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. The United States may need to compete with China or even share with China regarding the interpretation of the status quo. Secondly, further understanding of the style of decision-making with regard to Chinese President Hu Jintao. The United States needs to monitor Hu's policy toward Taiwan and China's implementation of the `anti-secession law' before 2012. Thirdly, regarding Taiwan's constitutional reform and other political development, the United States should not only support those with a limit but also keep track of those developments so that China may not have a chance to use force against Taiwan by adopting the `anti-secession law.' Fourthly, the United States should work on assisting Taiwan with regard to defending itself from accurate assaults of China. The United States should also provide methods for Taiwan to protect its `government sustainability' and `major fundamental infrastructures.' Fifthly, the United States will face another dilemma if Taiwan openly asks the United States to acquiesce on Taiwan's claim to say no to China. Sixthly, although the United States and Japan expressed concern toward the peace across the Taiwan Strait in their `common strategic objectives,' there should be more substantial consequent movements including resisting the European Union to withdraw its arms ban on China. ."