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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09AITTAIPEI306 2009-03-19 09:04:00 UNCLASSIFIED American Institute Taiwan, Taipei
Cable title:  

MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-CHINA NAVAL SHIPS CONFRONTATION,

Tags:   OPRC KMDR KPAO TW 
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VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0306/01 0780904
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190904Z MAR 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1162
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9026
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0478
					  UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000306 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - NIDA EMMONS
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S.-CHINA NAVAL SHIPS CONFRONTATION,
U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS



1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused March
19 news coverage on a meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou and AIT
Chairman Raymond Burghardt and a press conference hosted by the
latter Wednesday; on cross-Strait relations; and on the ongoing
investigation into former President Chen Shui-bian and his family's
legal cases. All major Chinese-language and English-language
dailies in Taiwan reported on Burghardt's meetings with Ma and with
the media representatives. The pro-unification "United Daily News"
front-paged a banner headline reading "AIT Chairman Raymond
Burghardt Urges Chinese Communist Party to Remove Missiles." The
pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a banner headline on page two
reading "Burghardt: China Must Remove Missiles Targeting Taiwan No
Matter How Many They Are," while its English-language sister
newspaper, "Taipei Times" front-paged a news story with the headline
"U.S. Comfortable with Detente: AIT."



2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a column in the
centrist, KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed the recent navy ships
confrontation between the United States and China in the South China
Sea. The article speculated on the behind-the-scene factor
concerning the role of the United States in the navy ships' conflict
in the South China Sea, saying it may be a trap set up by the United
States, which intentionally lured China into it. An op-ed in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times," written by a
senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, discussed the cross-Strait
situation and said "[B]oth sides and Beijing in particular may need
to engage in Strategic Reassurance Measures (SRMs)" in order to
resolve the lack of mutual trust between the two sides of the Taiwan
Strait. End summary.



3. U.S.-China Navy Ships Confrontation

"[U.S.-China] Conflicts in the South China Sea and Behind-the-Scene
Factors Concerning the United States"

The "International Lookout" column in the centrist, KMT-leaning
"China Times" [circulation: 150,000] wrote (3/19):

"Be it [called] turmoil or an incident in the South China Sea, China
had no other alternative but send a 4,500-ton fishery administration
ship, remodeled from an [old] destroyer, to the area, thus turning
[the state of mind of] the Philippines from soaring to panic. All
these happenings appear to be profound and abstruse, so there is
speculation claiming that it was the United States which set up a
trap and intentionally [lured] China into it.

"The background [of the speculation] went like this: China's
Southeast [Asia] policy has started to produce effects, as its free
trade agreement with Southeast Asia will kick off in 2010, and the
ASEAN nations will grow increasingly dependent on mainland China
economically. China's influence as a big country in the region will
definitely outweigh that of the United States. Since ASEAN plays a
major role in constituting the geo-politics in Asia, the United
States will by no means sit back and watch itself being excluded
[from the region]. Yet Washington can hardly stop such a trend.
The United States is at its wit's end, even though it is in
possession of enormous military power in the Pacific. Washington
thus came up [with the idea of] creating conflicts between the ASEAN
and China. ...

"USNS Impeccable was actively and heavily engaged in the South China
Sea and reconnoitering the navy base of China [in the area]. Isn't
that [some kind of] challenge? Previously when conflicts happened
between the United States and China, both sides were normally
reluctant to make them public. But this time the U.S. military
proactively announced [the incident] with a tough attitude. Wasn't
it a show put on to encourage [other] nations that have ambitions
toward the South China Sea?"



4. U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations

"China Can Use Strategic Reassurance"

Yu Tsung-chi, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United
States, opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" [circulation: 30,000] (3/190:

"In a recent report to the National People's Congress, Chinese
Premier Wen Jiabao said Beijing was ready to hold talks on political
and military issues in pursuit of ending hostilities across the
Taiwan Strait. However, Wen failed to mention any specific
confidence-building measures (CBMs), even though Beijing, Taipei and
Washington have all recently expressed some interest in this
proposal. ... For China and Taiwan to solve this 'mutual mistrust,'
both may need to first struggle to demonstrate that their long-term
intentions are benign. Both sides and Beijing in particular may need
to engage in Strategic Reassurance Measures (SRMs). ...
U.S.-CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS

"As far as China is concerned, 'Taiwanese independence' and Taiwan's
military capabilities, including arms procurements from the US, are
the major threats to China's territorial integrity. Responding to
these concerns, Taiwan has taken steps to reassure China. These
include renouncing the pro-independence policy, scrapping plans for
developing long-range cruise missiles, downsizing military troops,
cutting the frequency of war games, decreasing its military outlays,
planning to phase out the conscription system by 2014 and even
working on a think tank to coordinate strategic dialogues with the
Chinese military. In contrast, in response to Taipei's major
concern - the 1,500 missiles pointed at Taiwan - Beijing has so far
done nothing at all, let alone shown any benign gestures regarding
military CBMs. Beijing simply keeps ignoring that Taiwan has
frequently pointed out the missiles are a significant threat to the
island. ...

"Now is the perfect time for China to withdraw the missiles it
points at Taiwan. Taipei has reiterated that China must reduce its
military threat before peace talks can be held, specifically calling
for China to remove the missiles. The world would extend a hand if
China were willing to unclench its fist by removing the missiles in
line with its statement that its peaceful development and rise pose
no threat to any country. Such a benign gesture would also greatly
reduce the worry and mutual mistrust in the region. ... For the
benefit of all sides, now is the right time for cross-strait SRMs."

YOUNG