US embassy cable - 09AITTAIPEI1002

MEDIA REACTION: U.S.' RESCUE AND RELIEF EFFORTS FOR TAIWAN

Identifier: 09AITTAIPEI1002
Wikileaks: View 09AITTAIPEI1002 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: American Institute Taiwan, Taipei
Created: 2009-08-18 09:44:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1002/01 2300944
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180944Z AUG 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2138
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9340
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0773
UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001002 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/P, EAP/PD - THOMAS HAMM 
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: OPRC, KMDR, KPAO, TW 
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S.' RESCUE AND RELIEF EFFORTS FOR TAIWAN 
 
Summary:  Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused its news 
coverage August 18 on the U.S. military helicopters coming to Taiwan 
for humanitarian assistance missions in the aftermath of Typhoon 
Morakot; on the mounting criticism against the Ma Ying-jeou 
administration for its delays and incompetence in assisting the 
typhoon victims; and on the on-going post-typhoon rescue efforts in 
southern Taiwan.  In terms of editorials and commentaries, an 
editorial in the pro-unification "United Daily News" said assistance 
from the United States and China was "humanitarian" assistance, 
which should be above politics.  A separate "United Daily News" 
op-ed, however, said several unusual "signals" from both sides of 
the Taiwan Strait in the wake of Typhoon Morakot have drawn the 
close attention of the United States, which decided in the end "to 
send troops to intervene."  An analysis in the KMT-leaning "China 
Times" criticized the Taiwan government for delaying a request for 
assistance and said it has reduced the significance of the U.S. 
military's rescue mission.  End summary. 
 
A) "Humanity, Assistance by the United States and China Are All 
Humanitarian [Assistance]!" 
 
The pro-unification "United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] 
editorialized (8/18): 
 
"Sunday afternoon at 2:45 pm, a U.S. C-130 transport aircraft with 
'subdued markings' from [a U.S. airbase in] Okinawa, Japan, arrived 
at Tainan Air Force Base, completing its mission of carrying relief 
materials [to Taiwan] in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot.  This is 
the first time that a U.S. military aircraft has landed on Taiwan 
since Taiwan and the United States severed diplomatic ties in 1979. 
Taiwan's authorities defined such a move as 'humanitarian assistance 
that is above politics.'  For Beijing, China's Taiwan Affairs Office 
(TAO) Spokesman Yang Yi said 'this is humanitarian aid to Taiwan 
conducted by the countries involved through civilian channels.'  A 
U.S. naval vessel was bringing rescue helicopters to Taiwan on 
Monday, and such an effort should also be viewed as 'humanitarian 
assistance.'  ...  As a result, one cannot help but call it a major 
improvement over the past ten years [on Beijing's part] when Yang 
was able to define immediately the U.S. rescue mission as 
'humanitarian aid.' ..." 
 
B) "National Security Disaster [for Taiwan]; China and the United 
States Are Competing against Each Other in the Taiwan Strait" 
 
Associate Professor from Central Police University's Department of 
Public Security opined in the pro-unification "United Daily News" 
[circulation: 400,000] (8/18): 
 
"The damage caused by Typhoon Morakot and how the [Taiwan] 
government copes with it has put Taiwan under the spotlight of the 
international community.  The absence of government leadership and 
the ineffectiveness of [Taiwan's] military in rescue operations are 
the first impressions commonly shared by the outside world.  During 
this period, several unusual signals emerged from both sides of the 
Taiwan Strait, which have attracted the close attention of the 
United States and resulted in [Washington's] decision to send troops 
to intervene. ...  The signal that the [Taiwan] government sent to 
the outside world immediately [following the typhoon] -- '[we] want 
to rely on China, and [we] do not need [assistance from] foreign 
countries' undoubtedly confused the United States. ... 
 
"More importantly, mainland China's 'China Youth' published an 
article by People Liberation's Army Major General Lo Yuan on August 
14, discussing how both sides of the Taiwan Strait will build a 
military confidence-building mechanism.  The article clearly 
indicated that 'if Taiwan continues to maintain its substantive 
military alliance with the United States and the United States still 
sees mainland China as its biggest potential rival, how would it be 
possible for mainland China to unilaterally adjust its military 
deployments?  Thus, both sides should show their sincerity, seize 
such a rare opportunity to proactively discuss effective ways and 
means to establish a military confidence-building mechanism across 
the Taiwan Strait.'  What it means is that China will not remove its 
missiles [targeting Taiwan] unless Taiwan is determined to terminate 
its substantive military alliance with the United States.  Lo's 
viewpoint happened to come at the worst possible moment and rattled 
the nerves of Taiwan, the United States and China. ..." 
 
D) "U.S. Military Refuses to Carry Heavy-lift Machinery; Its Good 
Intention to Assist Taiwan Gets Snapped" 
 
Journalist Wu Ming-chieh wrote in an analysis in the KMT-leaning 
"China Times" [circulation: 120,000] (8/18): 
 
"For the first time in over nearly fifty years, militaries from both 
Taiwan and the United States will start a joint humanitarian rescue 
operation today.  The U.S. military planned to send four helicopters 
to assist in [Taiwan's] rescue operations, but based on safety 
concerns, the assistance provided by the U.S. military will be 
 
limited; the U.S. military, in the end, expressed that it is only 
willing to provide MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters to carry an 8.5 ton 
mini excavator.  As for [using] the 12 ton big excavator that has 
already sat on the Tainan Air Force Base, the U.S. military already 
said no! ... 
 
"Such a development was actually the result of Taiwan's Central 
Emergency Operation Center, which has missed the best timing for 
immediate rescue operations.  In the end, [Taiwan] has not only made 
its request for U.S. assistance futile but has also reduced the 
significance of the U.S. military's record-breaking efforts to offer 
its assistance to Taiwan. ...  Because of Taiwan's delay, the U.S. 
military rescue operations have been transformed from purely 
humanitarian aid to a sensitive diplomatic rescue [operation].  To 
prevent Beijing's condemnation, the U.S. military can only make 
changes on some symbolic details, such as sending the defensive 
MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters to replace the originally planned more 
offensive CH-53E Super Sea Stallion helicopters that can carry 
troops. ..." 
 
WANG 

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