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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05TAIPEI205
2005-01-19 03:00:00
UNCLASSIFIED
American Institute Taiwan, Taipei
Cable title:  

MEDIA COVERAGE OF CONGRESSMAN LANTOS' VISIT TO

Tags:   OPRC  KMDR  KPAO  TW 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 000205 

SIPDIS

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 COVERAGE OF CONGRESSMAN LANTOS' VISIT TO
TAIWAN



1. Summary: In an availability with selected representatives
of the media in Taiwan, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) voiced strong
concern over Taiwan's failure to pass a special budget for
arms procurement from the United States.



2. The issue and Lantos' remarks were covered by nine major
international and local newspapers the next day. "The Asian
Wall Street Journal" and "Financial Times" highlighted the
criticism about Taiwan's shrinking military spending, while
most Taiwan newspapers focused on Chen's promise for the
passage of the special budget even though the opposition
parties have vowed to boycott it. Excerpts of the news
articles follow:

A) "U.S. Lawmaker Criticized Taiwan Over Arms Budget"

Jason Dean wrote in "The Asian Wall Street Journal" (1/18):

"Taiwan received a rebuked from one of its strongest
supporters in the U.S. Congress, who said the island's
failure to move more aggressively on defense spending is
hurting its image in Washington.

"Tom Lantos, a Democratic representative from California, in
Taiwan as part of an Asia tour, said the island's dwindling
defense spending in recent years was `absurd' when China has
steadily ratcheted up military spending.

"`This is a wealthy society,' Mr. Lantos said at a news
conference yesterday, citing Taiwan's $242 billion in
foreign-exchange reserves, `and apparently it is incapable
of deciding to spend $18 billion on its own defense. This
makes no sense on Capital Hill.'"

B) "Taipei's Defense Bill Criticized by U.S. Ally"

Kathrin Hille wrote in the "Financial Times" (1/18):

"One of Taiwan's strongest supporters in the U.S. has
publicly blamed the island of spending far too little on
defense, in a further sign that support in Washington for
guaranteeing Taiwan's security against China is eroding.

"Mr. Lantos said concern over the island's failure to beef
up its defences had become widespread. Officials said he had
expressed a clear warning that is was getting ever harder
for friends of Taiwan on Capitol Hill to lobby the
administration for support."

C) "Chen Claims Arms Procurement Budget Will Pass,
Opposition Party Dismisses the Expectation"

The pro-status quo "China Times" reported (1/18):

"Is the light penetrating through the cloud after the United
States made its own lobby efforts? When meeting with U.S.
Congressman Lantos, President Chen Shui-bian said James
Soong, chairman of the opposition People First Party, no
longer opposed to Taiwan's arms procurement plan after
communications [with the U.S. side] during a visit to
Washington D.C. Chen said, `It is something to be happy
about." He believed the three special budgets for arms
procurements will win approvals from the legislature in the
first half of this year."

D) "President Chen Receives Lantos, Calls for Formation of
Taiwan-U.S. Value Alliance"

The pro-independence "Taiwan Daily" reported (1/18):

"President Chen Shui-bian met with U.S. Congressman Lantos
and mentioned the issue of arms procurement. Chen said the
election was already over and he was please to hear that PFP
Chairman James Soong would not oppose the arms deal.Chen
said he hopes the U.S.-Taiwan relations will be improved and
that the two countries will form a `value alliance.'."

E) "Taiwan Treated Badly, Visiting U.S. Congressman Says"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times"
published a Central News Agency story (1/18):

".Tom Lantos said that the so-called civilized world
continues to treat Taiwan's leaders as second-class
citizens, authorizing them only transit stops in their
countries.

"They should receive proper visas and should be allowed to
enter the U.S. whenever and wherever they choose, he said."

PAAL