Oct 042014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-11-23 07:22
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Singapore

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/23/2015

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Judith R. Fergin for reasons 1.4(b)/(d

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Admiral Fallon, accompanied by Charge
Fergin, met separately on November 14 with Prime Minister Lee
Hsien Loong and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong to discuss
bilateral security cooperation and regional issues, most
prominently, China. In open and relaxed discussions, both
leaders expressed their strong commitment to assisting the
United States to maintain a stabilizing military presence in
the Asia-Pacific region by providing access to their military
facilities. They strongly encouraged the United States to
pursue a policy of broad engagement)-including military to
military-)with the PRC, and saw the recent lessening of
tension across the Taiwan strait as providing a window of
opportunity. PM Lee identified extremist Islam and terrorism
as the most immediate and dangerous threats to Southeast
Asia; praised Indonesian President Yudhoyono,s efforts and
encouraged the United States to fully restore military ties
with that country; and worried about the increasing
separatist violence in southern Thailand. Admiral Fallon
thanked the two leaders for Singapore,s sustained support
for U.S. forces and participation in OIF and OEF. END

¶2. (SBU) Admiral Fallon began his conversations by explaining
the principal objectives of his visit: to see for himself the
facilities Singapore has made available to the United States,
reinforce multilateral efforts to better secure the Malacca
Strait, and discuss regional issues, principally the
implications of the rise of China and the threat of

¶3. (C) Senior Minister Goh immediately turned the discussion
to China, pointing out that in the months since Admiral
Fallon took command, tensions in PRC-Taiwan relations had
clearly receded. This change created new opportunities, SM
Goh suggested, and asked Admiral Fallon for his impressions
of the implications for U.S. China policy. The Admiral
described U.S. relations with China as broad and
complex)-with the exception of military relations. At the
direction of the Secretary of Defense, the Admiral said he
was working to develop ideas for step-by-step increases in
military exchanges and contacts. A key determinant in this
process would be China,s response, in particular its
willingness to be more transparent regarding its military
capabilities and intentions.

¶4. (C) SM Goh pointed out that to some extent China,s
reticence in opening up its facilities to U.S. visitors might
be because they are &embarrassed8 by their lack of
capability relative to the United States. The PLA, he said,
has manpower but lags in technology. Whatever the reason, he
continued, building confidence will take time, and U.S.
strategy should take this into account. Singapore, he added,
currently has no military relations with the PRC but
recognizes that it should begin to build its own links to the
PLA. Minister of Defence Teo would begin this process in the
next several days when he undertook the first official visit
by a Singapore Defence Minister to the PRC. Admiral Fallon
replied that the United States remained deeply concerned by
the rapid increase in the PRC,s military spending, a
significant portion of which was not publicly acknowledged.
The PRC does have a long way to go in building up its
military capabilities, but it is closing the gap. Their fear
of U.S. &encirclement8-)although unfounded-)also drives
them to secrecy.

¶5. (C) China,s rise, SM Goh said, is &everyone,s concern8
and the countries of the region are adjusting. The purpose
of China,s military modernization, he agreed, remains
unresolved. China,s immediate concern, clearly, is to block
or deter Taiwan from formal independence. China understands
that the United States opposes Taiwan,s independence.
However, the Chinese also recognize that if they attack
Taiwan, the United States will assist in Taiwan,s defense.
&So, they feel they need weapons to deter the United States
from coming to Taiwan,s aid too quickly.8

¶6. (C) Changing the mindset of the younger generation
Chinese, he concluded, would be key to China,s future
direction. The control previously exerted by the communist
regime, he said, is now a thing of the past as a consequence
of the pervasive social and cultural influence of not only
the West but also of Japan and Korea. The thousands of young
Chinese who have and will study overseas are also
increasingly influential. President Hu Jintao, SM Goh
observed, is keenly aware of these drivers in Chinese
society. His priority is &peace, so China can grow.8 The
United States, he urged, should continue to reinforce the
positive trends in China by &engaging more than by
containing.8 Commenting further on PRC-Japan relations, SM
Goh suggested the United States try to encourage Japan to
improve its political relations with Chinese leadership.
U.S. relations with Japan are &the backbone8 of security in
Asia, and the United States needs to have Japan with it in
pursuing its strategic goals with China.

¶7. (C) PM Lee was equally interested in U.S.-China relations,
and probed the Admiral for his insights on the PLA
leadership. The Admiral told the PM that he had found the
senior leadership &scripted8 in their conversations but
that younger officers were more interested in engaging in
dialogue. As the United States pursues increased exchanges
with the PLA, the intended focus will be on the new
generation of officers. PM Lee observed that if the PRC was
genuinely interested in &rising peacefully,8 it should show
less reluctance to engage and to take advantage of
opportunities to &make its case.8 One reason the PLA
senior officers are hard to engage, he continued, is that few
are truly secure in their positions, and are worried that any
departure from the party line will be criticized by their
superiors. Commenting on the important stabilizing role the
United States plays in the region, PM Lee noted that even the
PRC &silently acknowledges8 the benefit of the U.S.
presence and that this recognition should improve prospects
for greater engagement.

¶8. (C) Turning to the threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia,
PM Lee offered the view that Indonesian President Yudhoyono
was bringing stability and leadership to his country and was
slowly making gains against extremists and terrorists. He
pointed to the recent Indonesian success in finding and
killing the JI bomb maker, Azahari, as an indication of
improved Indonesian CT capabilities. However, the terrorist
infrastructure in Indonesia and the southern Philippines
remained largely intact. Admiral Fallon described U.S. and
PACOM efforts to support cooperative efforts among Indonesia,
Malaysia and the Philippines to disrupt terrorist &rat
lines8 at sea as well as PACOM,s work with the Philippine
armed forces (PAF) to build their capacity. U.S. advisers,
although not in the field with combat units, are assisting
the PAF to improve their intelligence fusion and operational
planning. PM Lee observed that although the MILF insurgency
is primarily a Philippine internal problem, as long as the
MILF continues to harbor JI terrorists, &it is everyone,s
problem.8 The Admiral suggested that President Arroyo,s
government was beginning to make some progress-)with
substantial U.S. assistance–in addressing the underlying
conditions that have fueled the separatist movements,
principally the lack of basic services and economic
opportunities. PM Lee agreed Arroyo was moving in the right
direction but again stressed the danger posed by the
Philippine government,s inability to deny terrorists
safe-havens and training bases in the south.

¶9. (C) Regarding security in the Malacca Strait, PM Lee said
he was pleased that Malaysia had shifted its position and now
agreed in principle to cooperate with Singapore and Indonesia
in securing the Strait and to accept assistance from the
&user countries8 to develop this capacity. Indonesia,
however, was still lagging in its political commitment and
was far behind in actual capacity. The Indonesians, PM Lee
continued, have other priorities and are ¬ yet
convinced8 that the Malacca strait is &their problem.8 He
went on to urge the United States to continue to support
President Yudhoyono and asked where the U.S. administration
stood in terms of restoring normal military and defense ties.
The Admiral replied that the United States saw Indonesia as
strategically important for many reasons and was considering
how best to deal with continued Congressional restrictions.

¶10. (C) SM Goh also gave a positive assessment of President
Yudhoyono,s direction and accomplishments. However, he
stressed the lack of political will to engage in a long-term
strategy to undermine the influence of extremist Islamic
&preachers.8 The conviction of Abu Bakar Bashir, the JI
Emir, is not enough, he argued. JI continues to recruit
students from the Islamic schools for further indoctrination
and, for some, training in terrorist tactics. Dealing with
this danger will be a &tough test8 for President Yudhoyono.
In the meantime, he hoped the United States and Australia
would continue to provide the resources and training
Indonesia needed to strengthen its intelligence and police
capabilities. SM Goh also commented on the situation in
southern Thailand, worrying that outside extremist influences
would take advantage of the turmoil to establish a presence,
and criticizing PM Thaksin for his inability to implement an
effective strategy.

¶11. (U) Admiral Fallon has cleared this message.



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