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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08TAIPEI732 2008-05-28 10:22:00 CONFIDENTIAL American Institute Taiwan, Taipei
Cable title:  

MA YING-JEOU TO FOLLOW MORE PRAGMATIC FOREIGN

Tags:   PREL PGOV WHO CN TW 
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INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 8306
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 9617
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 9953
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU PRIORITY 2701
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU PRIORITY 1270
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG PRIORITY 9548
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI PRIORITY 2086
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG PRIORITY 6669
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHHMHAA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TAIPEI 000732 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 5/28/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV WHO CN TW
SUBJECT: MA YING-JEOU TO FOLLOW MORE PRAGMATIC FOREIGN
POLICY BASED ON SECURITY RATHER THAN NUMBERS, LEVERING
WEAKNESS INTO STRENGTH

REF: TAIPEI 715

Classified By: AIT Acting Director Robert S. Wang. Reasons: 1.4 (b/d)



1. (C) Summary. President Ma Ying-jeou,s foreign policy
will focus on Taiwan,s most important economic and security
partners rather than continuing the diplomatic numbers game,
according to National Security Council (NSC) Deputy
Secretary-General Ho Szu-yin. This more pragmatic approach
to diplomacy will extend to participating in international
organizations, emphasizing those of greatest benefit to
Taiwan, such as WHO. Finally, under Secretary-General Su
Chi, the NSC will limit itself to advising the president
through a greater emphasis on research and planning, and
coordinating with, rather than managing, ministries and
government agencies. End Summary.



2. (C) Ho Szu-yin, who took office last week as NSC Deputy
Secretary-General in charge of foreign policy and
international organizations, gave AIT Acting Director Robert
Wang an overview of the Ma administration,s foreign policy
priorities. Ho is one of three Deputy Secretaries-General,
the other two being Kao Chang (cross-Strait economic and
trade relations) and Lee Hai-tung (military and security
issues). Kao Chang,s role in cross-Strait relations, Ho
explained, will be limited to economic and trade issues,
while his own responsibility for international organizations
will necessarily involve cross-Strait relations.

Restyling the NSC


--------------------------





3. (C) Ho pointed out that most of the new NSC leadership
consists of scholars with limited experience in government
affairs. This, he told ADIR, accords with Secretary-General
Su Chi,s desire that the NSC should focus on long-term
strategy and carry out more research than it did under former
Secretary-General Chiou I-jen. The new NSC will coordinate
among ministries and agencies rather than manage them and run
policy as it did under Chiou. Chiou, Ho said, dispatched
officers to sit in on agency internal meetings, issuing
instructions and reporting back to him, which created ill
will and fear among ministries and agencies. The people Ma
has appointed, however, are more scholarly and cooperatively
oriented, and less competitive, than officials in the
previous administration. &No one in the new NSC,8 he said,
will try to undercut or trump MOFA, for Foreign Minister Ou
Hung-lian and Su Chi are on good terms and both of a
cooperative bent.



4. (SBU) (Note: On May 11, following the announcement of
his appointment as Secretary-General, Su Chi announced that
the NSC would fulfill its statutory role as an advisory body
to the president. It would provide the president with
"information, research and options for his decision" and
would not command other government agencies. Nor, he
pledged, would it get involved in "things that the NSC
recently did," referring to a diplomatic fraud scandal
involving payment for establishment of relations with Papua
New Guinea.)



5. (C) The important role the NSC will occupy under Ma, Ho
continued, was indicative in Ma,s first two directives
following his inauguration on May 20. Ma first swore in
Premier Liu Chao-hsuan and NSC Secretary-General Su Chi.
Then he directed Su to coordinate among the ministries and
other government agencies. He noted, however, that he and
the two other deputies are vice-ministerial level officals
and would not have authority over the various ministries and
agencies.

Foreign Policy: Security, Not Numbers


--------------------------





6. (C) Turning to his own NSC portfolio, foreign policy and
international organizations, Ho told ADIR that Ma,s foreign
policy will focus on Taiwan security -- ¬ on small
countries, but on our actual security needs.8 He pointed

TAIPEI 00000732 002 OF 004


disapprovingly to the &more than forty diplomats8 assigned
to the Taiwan Embassy in Santo Domingo as a &waste of
resources.8 Rather, Taiwan should pursue a foreign policy
of &realpolitic8 emphasizing, not the number of diplomatic
allies, but achieving real economic and security benefits for
Taiwan. Substantive support from nations like Australia, for
example, would be preferable to more diplomatic partners like
the many small countries with which Taiwan now has relations.
Sovereignty, he said, does not equal the number of
diplomatic partners, and Taiwan must be prepared to lose more
countries, perhaps even down to zero, depending, he hastened
to add, on the Taiwan political situation and gaining
domestic political acceptance.



7. (C) Sovereignty, Ho Szu-yin continued, should be defined
by realpolitic )- a realistic assessment of Taiwan,s
security and economic needs and interests. Sovereignty means
the ability to maintain Taiwan security such as, for example,
strengthening U.S. support for Taiwan defense. Perhaps the
greatest challenge to this rational approach to foreign
policy, Ho acknowledged, is the PRC Foreign Ministry,s
"bureaucratic imperative8 to continue &grabbing countries8
and playing the numbers game, which could undermine its
maneuvering room on foreign policy. He expressed the hope
that Beijing would understand and be willing to give Taiwan
greater international space.

Dealing with IO,s


--------------------------





8. (C) In Ho,s other area of responsibility, international
organizations, this new foreign policy will concentrate on
those IO,s of greatest importance to Taiwan, such as WHO.
WHO is "a human rights issue8 for the people of Taiwan, Ho
argued, which Taiwan can turn to its advantage. PRC scholars
and diplomats whom Ho regularly meets have told him that the
WHO issue is an embarrassment for the PRC, which dreads the
WHA each year, because it puts China in a bad light: big
China beating up on little Taiwan and keeping its people in
the dark. Other nations, they lament, cannot understand why
the PRC blocks Taiwan participation in WHO, which is
important to the health and well-being of the people of
Taiwan and the world. With ingenuity, Ho told ADIR, Taiwan
can lever this PRC discomfiture to its advantage.

Strength From Weakness


--------------------------





9. (C) WHO is an example, Ho continued, of how the Ma
administration will try to use Taiwan weakness to leverage
positive responses from Beijing. Operating from a position
of relative weakness compared to the PRC, he said, Taiwan
must pursue a policy very different from that of the U.S.,
which operates from a position of strength and military
balance. Explaining that he had closely studied the
experiences of Finland with the USSR and of the Netherlands
in the European Community, as well as the writings of Thomas
Schelling, Ho argued that small states must use strategems
rather than direct bargaining to gain advantage in
international politics. For Taiwan, this means &a game of
chicken8 with the PRC to lever weakness into strength.
Taiwan must "show sincerity" (i.e., determination that stems
from a lack of choice) and, thus, put the onus on the PRC in
hopes this will elicit a positive PRC response. PRC Taiwan
Affairs Office (TAO) Chairman Chen Yunlin's very positive
public comments last week regarding Ma Yingjeou,s inaugural
speech, Ho said, are a case in point. At the same time,
however, Ho acknowledged, the NSC has also begun to analyze
whether and how Beijing might one day try to exploit
Taiwan,s growing economic dependency on China.



10. (C) Taiwan identity and "green" pressure actually
provide Ma with an important bargaining chip to push the PRC
into concessions, Ho argued. The new DPP Chair Tsai
Ying-wen, who devised former President Lee Teng-hui,s &two
states theory,8 gives Ma another bargaining chip with
Beijing. So, Ho said, Ma,s deliberately putting all his
cards on the table serves to put Beijing on the spot and )-

TAIPEI 00000732 003 OF 004


hopefully -) force it to respond positively to Ma,s public
offerings.



11. (C) On the other hand, he mused, the Ma administration
would not really want to see too-rapid improvement. Removal
of the missiles across the Strait, for example, would
actually reduce Taiwan's influence levers with Beijing, both
by removing the onus from Beijing and by reducing the
pressure from Taiwan's "green" side. Ma,s seeming weakness,
his hands tied by the greens, is actually a useful bargaining
chip for Ma.

U.S.-Taiwan


--------------------------





12. (C) ADIR noted that one of the points U.S. inaugural
delegation leader Andrew Card had sought to make during his
Taipei visit was that the Ma administration should carefully
manage expectations of the U.S. Ho responded that Ma is
&realistic8 about ties with the U.S. He acknowledged that
Ma's uncoordinated public announcement of his plan to visit
the U.S. before his inauguration had been a poorly concieved
surprise. However, the Ma team, he said, consists of a large
dose of scholars "who learn quickly from errors.8 Ma
himself, Ho continued, now understands the limits on
relations with the U.S. and will act accordingly.



13. (C) The greatest damage former President Chen Shui-bian
had perpetrated on Taiwan, Ho argued, was damaging its
relations with the U.S. Chen &caused trouble and upset the
status quo8 which, Ho said, explained why the U.S. relegated
Chen,s final transits to Alaska. For Ma to be similarly
assigned an Alaska transit, Ho stressed, would be deeply
damaging to him and undermine his efforts to build a rational
foreign policy.

Ma,s Cross-Strait Collegium


--------------------------





14. (C) Ho told ADIR that Ma will personally direct Taiwan's
cross-Strait policy. To deal with cross-Strait issues, Ma
plans to meet each week with an unofficial five-person
national affairs group consisting of himself, Vice President
Vincent Hsiao, Premier Liu Chao-hsuan, Legislative Yuan
Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, and KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung. On
cross-Strait issues, they will be joined by NSC
Secretary-General Su Chi, Strait Exchange Foundation (SEF)
head PK Chiang, and Mainland Affairs Council (MAC)
Chairperson Lai Shin-yuan. Ho expressed confidence that the
green (independence)-leaning Lai Shin-yuan would not pose a
problem for cross-Strait progress, because the consensus will
rule and she &must abide by the majority." "This is how Ma
operates,8 Ho noted succinctly. Lai's appointment of three
MAC Deputy Chairs from within MAC, Ho pointed out, indicated
she has gotten the message and will be a team player by
giving MAC an administrative, rather than policymaking,
focus.



15. (C) The ruling KMT will also play an &important role8
in cross-Strait relations, Ho told ADIR, in part through its
function coordinating the KMT legislative caucus. The KMT,
he noted, has good relations with the PRC and the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP), and will be able to discuss difficult
political issues of international space and participation in
IO's in ways the SEF-ARATS channel may not be able. Thus,
this "Track II" party-to-party channel, currently visible in
KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung's visit to Beijing (reftel), gives
the Ma administration further channels of influence and
leverage with China. Ho told ADIR he did not expect the KMT
to be anything but helpful on cross-Strait relations, because
Chairman Wu has "very friendly relations with the
President,8 and Ma and his administration leaders all come
out of the KMT and are close to Wu.

Comment


--------------------------





16. (C) Shifting Taiwan foreign policy from the diplomatic

TAIPEI 00000732 004 OF 004


numbers game to a &realpolitik8 calculus of interests will
be a tall order. Deputy Secretary-General Ho is not the
first Taiwan government official to announce a shift away
from "dollar diplomacy.8 Numerous government officials and
diplomats, including James Huang before he took over as
Foreign Minister in 2006, have told AIT of their hope to move
Taiwan from a fixation with numbers to playing up Taiwan,s
comparative advantage. In each case, however, the exigencies
of government office and domestic Taiwan politics -- not to
mention Beijing's incessant pressures -- have repeatedly
waylaid those best-laid plans. Non-cooperation from the PRC,
or another spate of recognition shifts, could undermine the
Ma administration,s ability to make what is essentially a
diplomatic leap of faith into a new cross-Strait order.

Biographical Note


--------------------------





17. (SBU) Ho Szu-yin is well known among U.S. scholars of
East Asian, PRC and Taiwan studies. Ho has been a member of
the National Chengchi University Institute of International
Relations (IIR) since 1994, serving as its Director from 1999
to 2003. From 2003 until last week, Ho also served as
Director of the KMT Overseas Affairs Department.



18. (C) Ho was born in Taiwan on November 1, 1956, of
parents who immigrated to Taiwan from Mainland China. He
earned his B.A. in English Literature at National Taiwan
University (1978) and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science
(1983, 1986) from the University of California at Santa
Barbara. Ho and his wife have three children -- a son and a
daughter studying in the U.S. (New York and California) and a
daughter just completing high school in Taipei, who will
begin her freshman year at the University of British Columbia
this fall. Ho had long been excited about his yearlong
sabbatical next year at UBC, until Ma Ying-jeou and Su Chi
persuaded him to remain in Taiwan as NSC Deputy
Secretary-General.
WANG