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2005-01-14 10:13:00
American Institute Taiwan, Taipei
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TAIPEI 000168 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2015

REF: A. 2003 TAIPEI 04007

B. TAIPEI 00118

Classified By: AIT Director Douglas Paal, Reason: 1.4 (B/D)

1. (C) Summary: PFP Chairman James Soong is struggling to
recover from a political setback and is using everything
within his means. Soong has fueled rumors of a DPP-PFP
alliance and is hoping to use a visit to Washington to
sanction his role as a national leader in Taiwan. The DPP,
having fallen short of an LY majority and always looking to
sow tension within the Pan-Blue, has nothing to lose in
courting the PFP. Soong's public statements immediately
after the LY election hinted that such an alliance was
possible. Soong's private words to KMT Chairman Lien Chan
and his PFP ranks, however, suggest the Pan-Blue will remain
intact, but that the PFP will play a more independent role.
The agreed-upon KMT-PFP merger will not take place by the
March 2005 target, if at all. Soong has already derived some
benefits from his maverick posture, but he also risks
alienating core PFP supporters and his own PFP colleagues who
for their own reasons want to merge with the KMT. Soong
appears to be playing one of his last cards today with his
high profile visit to Washington. End Summary.

James Soong: Phoenix Rising


2. (C) PFP Chairman James Soong is currently struggling to
recover from a political setback and is using everything
within his means to do so. By exploiting the PFP's role as a
"crucial minority," Soong has used rumors of a DPP-PFP
alliance to leverage his position with the KMT and played up
meetings with Washington officials to sanction his role as a
Taiwan national leader. December 11 was a grim day for
Soong, with the PFP losing 12 incumbents in the LY, and the
KMT saying there will be no room in the party leadership for
Soong when, for want of resources and electoral support, he
is finally forced to accept merger on KMT terms. In recent
days, however, various sources are feeding media speculation
of potential DPP offers of a host of positions to Soong,
including Premier, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chair,
and Chair of Chen Shui-bian's proposed "Cross-Strait Peace
Development Commission."

Strange New Bedfellows?


3. (C) The DPP's failure to win a Legislative Yuan (LY)
majority in the December 11 election has prompted much
speculation that Chen Shui-bian might try to build a
governing alliance with the PFP, whose 34 LY seats would give
the DPP majority control of the LY. Over the past 30 days,
the DPP has not hesitated to fuel these rumors, with DPP
leaders, including Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh, Acting
Chairman Ker Chien-ming, and DPP Secretary General Chang
Chun-hsiung, making suggestive comments of imminent DPP-PFP

accord. As early as December 14, the Taiwan Daily News
quoted an anonymous DPP official saying cooperation with the
PFP was definitely a possibility. On December 29, Ker
publicly suggested that Soong should head Chen Shui-bian's
proposed "Cross-Strait Peace Development Committee." After
SEF Chairman Koo Chen-fu passed away on January 3, rumors
started circulating that the DPP was considering Soong as
Koo's successor. Legislator Lee Wen-chung and other members
of the DPP's "60s Group" (made up of DPP members born around
that decade) even urged the leadership on January 5 to delete
the pro-independence plank in the party's platform. The DPP
loses nothing by wooing the PFP -- if it succeeds it could
form a comfortable LY majority, and effectively destroy the
Pan-Blue alliance. If the courting goes nowhere, the DPP has
already damaged the Pan-Blue coalition by sowing suspicion
between KMT and PFP.

Cryptic Words from Soong


4. (C) Statements by PFP Chairman James Soong immediately
after the LY election also hinted that a DPP-PFP alliance was
possible (Ref A). Soong ruled out the possibility of a
KMT-PFP merger, declaring that PFP would cooperate with the
KMT only on an issue by issue basis, and fueled rumors of DPP
overtures to the PFP for coalition government by making a
leading statement, just before boarding a U.S.-bound plane on
December 15, that he was not interested in forming a joint
cabinet with the DPP. Soong returned to Taiwan briefly to
attend the funeral of former President Chiang Ching-kuo's
widow, Chiang Fang-liang, on December 27, then departed for
the U.S. again the next day saying that the PFP would not ask
for any positions in the new government and would not
participate in a coalition government. However, Soong said,
the PFP should act in the interest of the public and not
merely along confrontational Green-Blue ideological lines.
He added that the PFP would cooperate with the KMT on
defending the ROC, but compete with the KMT on legislation on
political party reform, and that the PFP would consider
cooperating with any other parties on economic and public

5. (C) Soong's public statements appear to correlate with
what he has said in private to Lien Chan and to his PFP
colleagues. Lien told the AIT Director on January 12 that
Soong had assured him that, although KMT-PFP merger was not
possible in the immediate future, the PFP would continue to
cooperate with the KMT. If the DPP government was willing to
safeguard the ROC, however, he would consider cooperating
with the DPP on specific issues involving the people's
livelihood (Ref B). Soong confidant Hwang Yih-jiau confirmed
to AIT on January 11 before he departed Taiwan to join Soong
in the U.S. that these are the guiding principles that Soong
laid down for the party.

Areas for Cooperation


6. (C) A PFP insider Raymond Wu, formerly PFP International
Affairs Director, told AIT on January 11 that the possibility
for a DPP-PFP alliance is very real, and outlined three
levels of possible cooperation. At the very least, Wu said,
the two parties could cooperate on policy, but it would be
limited to domestic issues such as economics, social welfare,
education, and environment. Wu said the ideological gap
between the two parties was too wide, so they would probably
not seek cooperation on cross-Strait or international policy.
The DPP and PFP, Wu continued, could also cooperate on
personnel issues, including appointment of PFP members to the
new Cabinet and, more importantly, securing for the PFP the
LY Vice Speakership. Wu told AIT that PFP Legislators
Christina Liu (Yi-ru), Chung Jung-Chi, Lee Ching-an, Lee
Ching-hua, and Shen Chih-hwei are all lobbying for the job.
Finally, there is also talk, Wu said, of forming a DPP-PFP
coalition government. Wu, however, dismissed the third point
as highly unlikely.

7. (C) KMT Legislator John Chang (Hsiao-yen) told AIT on
January 14 that Soong has been extremely successful in
exploiting the PFP's role as a "crucial minority" in the LY.
Chang noted the KMT had already dropped its original
intention of nominating Wang Jin-pyng and Chiang Pin-kun as
the LY Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Most likely, he said, the
Deputy Speaker will now come from the PFP ranks. Chang also
confirmed that informal talks have taken place between DPP
and PFP caucus leaders and that there will definitely be
"some kind" cooperation on domestic policy.

High Risk Game


8. (C) Chang said however that Soong should be careful not to
overplay his hand in this "highly risky game." He pointed
out that there is the danger that Soong might alienate his
grassroots supporters, as well as PFP legislators (Chang
estimated that at least ten would leave the PFP and return to
the KMT if Soong moved too far toward the DPP). The
possibility of alienating core PFP supporters worries Hwang
Yih-jiau and other PFP leaders. Hwang told AIT that PFP
supporters are retired and active military personnel,
Mainlanders, and other dark Blue voters who would not
tolerate any sort of cooperation with the DPP. Raymond Wu
pointed out that many PFP LY candidates had campaigned on the
promise of merging PFP with KMT, and that some newly elected
members, Vincent Chang (Hsien-yao) for example, may well be
recalled if the merger is not achieved.

9. (C) Wu also pointed out that there are many other PFP
members who were elected in areas with high concentrations of
KMT supporters, and because of their personal ambitions
(especially for this year's city and magistrate elections),
these PFP members desire greater integration with the KMT.
For example, Wu told AIT that Sun Ta-chien wants to run for
Taoyuan County Magistrate, Chou Hsi-wei and Lee Ching-hua for
Taipei County Magistrate, Lee Ching-an for Taipei City Mayor,
and Lee Yong-ping for Taipei City Deputy Mayor.

From Party to Entourage


10. (C) Yet another complicating factor is that the best
interests of the PFP as a political party might not
necessarily be in the best interests of James Soong. Many
KMT officials say they simply cannot see a role in the KMT
for Soong. They doubt party members would be willing to
elect Soong as Chairman and expect Soong would not accept any
position other than the top job. Soochow University
Professor Emile Sheng told AIT on January 3 that he feared
Soong would not hesitate to break up the PFP if he thought it
were in his interest. Sheng said that even if only half of
the 34 PFP legislators stayed with Soong, he would still
control 17 LY seats, which is more than the Taiwan Solidarity
Union's (TSU) 12 seats.

Comment: In the Driver Seat


11. (C) For all the talk and rumors of DPP-PFP cooperation,
there has been little evidence of actual negotiations between
the two parties. The PFP continues to block legislation of
vital interest to the DPP -- and the U.S. (such as the
Defense Special Budget). Though professing opposition to the
KMT's "black gold" (corruption) image, the PFP did not even
cooperate with the DPP in placing the Political Party Reform
bill on the LY agenda, an issue that the DPP uses to attack
the KMT's "ill-gotten assets." In the meantime, Soong has
proved once again that he is one of Taiwan's most astute
politicians. Dominating today's headlines with news of his
meetings with American officials in Washington, Soong has
returned from "loser" status on December 11 to being at the
center of Taiwan politics.