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05TAIPEI727 2005-02-23 10:15:00 UNCLASSIFIED American Institute Taiwan, Taipei
Cable title:  

MEDIA REACTION: TAIWAN STRAIT SECURITY IN U.S.-

Tags:   OPRC KMDR KPAO TW 
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1. Summary: Only the two limited circulation English-
language newspapers in Taiwan continued to editorialize
about the joint statement of the U.S.-Japan
Consultative Committee, while almost all Taipei dailies
focused their coverage on local politics. The centrist
"China Times" carried on its front page President
George W. Bush's comment in Brussels on lifting the
arms ban toward China by the European Union, while the
largest Taiwan daily, the pro-independence "Liberty
Times" spent half of its page two discussing the
possible contents and impact of China's "anti-
secession" law, which is scheduled to be passed in
early March.



2. An editorial in the limited circulation,
conservative, pro-unification, English-language "China
Post" called on the people in Taiwan to note that the
"noticeable inclusion [of the issue of tensions in the
Taiwan Strait in the U.S.-Japan security pact]
reflected the two countries' increasing uneasiness
about China's growing military might and a concerted
effort by them to keep an emerging superpower in
check." It also urged Taiwan to seek to thaw its
relations with Beijing so that Taiwan does not have to
make a huge military investment. The limited-
circulation, pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan
News," however, said in its editorial that Washington
and Tokyo's decision should lead the Taiwan people to
take more seriously their own obligations for self-
defense instead of fostering complacency or dependence
on the protection of other countries. End summary.

A) "Joint U.S.-Japan Effort to Contain a Rising China"

The conservative, pro-unification, English-language
"China Post" [circulation: 30,000] noted in an
editorial (2/23):

"We in Taiwan must not see Saturday's joint declaration
by Washington and Tokyo to include the issue of
tensions in the Taiwan Strait in the scope of their
alliance simply as an expression of a shared concern
about the security of this island. There is something
more to it: The noticeable inclusion also reflected the
two countries' increasing uneasiness about China's
growing military might and a concerted effort by them
to keep an emerging superpower in check.

"Taiwan surely should welcome the U.S. and Japan's
proclamation that easing tensions in the Taiwan Strait
was part of their `common strategic objectives' and
that they intend to make it a goal to encourage a
`peaceful resolution of issues concerning the Taiwan
Strait through dialogue.'

"But Taipei needs to understand that the decision by
the two governments for the first time to cover Taiwan,
along with North Korea, in their bilateral security
treaty as an issue of concern was prompted also by
their own strategic interests. An understanding by
Taipei of this broad background will help it avoid
making mistakes in addressing relations with
Washington, Tokyo and Beijing in particular. .

". [T]he reason that Washington wanted to put Taiwan
into the joint U.S.-Japan declaration might not
entirely be a consideration for this island's security.
Rather the U.S. government hoped that Japan from now on
assume a bigger role in blocking the military expansion
of China. This is because the U.S., too, has begun to
feel the threat of Beijing's growing military strength.
.

"In short, Taipei must not unrealistically take Tokyo
and Washington's heightened concern about Taiwan's
security as a new policy of their willingness to side
with this island against Beijing. It would be
seriously wrong to believe that this island could thus
push ahead with plans to pursue formal independence
without having to worry about retaliation from China.
When the U.S. and Japan expressed hope that Taiwan and
China would resolve their differences peacefully, they
also meant that neither side should provoke the other
by seeking to change the status quo.

"Any attempt by Taipei to use the newfound opportunity
to build an alliance with the U.S. and Japan to
antagonize China would also be seriously wrong. Even
Washington and Tokyo, while wary of China's growing
military strength, want to do their best to improve
their relations with that country, rather than pursuing
a confrontational approach.

"Taiwan, a small island which has become increasingly
reliant on the Chinese mainland for economic growth,
naturally cannot afford to continuously treat Beijing
like an enemy. It is in Taiwan's best interests to
achieve a thaw in Beijing's relations.

"An improvement of such ties would not only help Taiwan
secure a greater share of the mainland market, it may
also eliminate the need for us to continue to make a
huge military investment, which has become financially
unbearable for us."

B) "Taiwan Cannot Just Depend on Others"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taiwan News"
[circulation: 20,000] editorialized (2/23):

"The United States and Japan sent a clear and welcome
message to the People's Republic of China February 19
to rein in its intensifying campaign on the military,
diplomatic and legal fronts to pressure Taiwan to
accept `unification,' peaceful or otherwise.

"However, the expression of concern by Washington and
Tokyo should lead Taiwan citizens to take more
seriously our own obligations for self-defense instead
of fostering complacency or dependence on the
protection of other Pacific powers. .

"The point manifests the fact that although the
positions of Washington and Tokyo on the Taiwan Strait
problem are gradually converging, the triangular
relationship between the U.S., Japan and the PRC
continues to be extremely delicate.

"The U.S. and Japan have used the joint security
statement to express their grave concern over the
expansion of the PRC's military clout and the
aggressive nature of its deployment. However, the two
Pacific powers clearly still hope that Beijing can play
a constructive mediating role to resolve the festering
crisis in North Korea and also do not wish to provoke
the PRC.

"Therefore, Taiwan should not lapse into excessive
optimism and exaggerate the implications on Saturday's
new development and neglect our own responsibility and
obligation for our own defense or let down our guard
against the PRC. .

"The inability of our country, for reasons of partisan
antagonism and ideological disputes, to act in
accordance with its own national interests will
inevitably lead to a day when the U.S. and Japan are no
longer willing to act as our effective protectors. If
Taiwan cannot become recognized as a country, then its
reliance on `reflected interests' from the Japan-U.S.
security alliance will ultimately be limited.

"The Taiwanese people should strive to join with the
U.S. and Japan to sign a joint mutual security treaty
and should not sanguinely expect to receive the
protection of foreign countries."

PAAL