Oct 092014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/03/07BEIJING1448.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BEIJING1448
2007-03-05 12:08
2011-08-30 01:44
SECRET
Embassy Beijing

VZCZCXRO5263
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHHM RUEHNH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #1448/01 0641208
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 051208Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5300
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0386
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1647
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BEIJING 001448

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/05/32
TAGS: PREL UNSC CH XC BM ID TH RP TT
SUBJECT: DAS JOHN DISCUSSES BURMA, SOUTHEAST ASIA WITH AFM CUI TIANKAI AND DG HU ZHENGYUE

REF: BEIJING 1269

BEIJING 00001448 001.2 OF 004
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission David S. Sedney. Reasons 1.4 (b
/d).

Summary
——-

¶1. (S) If the United States wants to make a difference on
Burma, it should engage directly with General Than Shwe,
Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai told EAP DAS Eric John
on March 5. In a separate meeting, MFA Director General for
Asian Affairs Hu Zhengyue stressed that State Councilor Tang
“really worked on” the Burmese during his recent visit to
Burma, delivering the message that Burma needs to respond to
the concerns of the international community. DAS John
underlined that the United States is worried that Burma is
headed at high speed in the wrong direction. If it adopts a
constitution excluding certain parties from the political
process, the United States and China could be locked into a
cycle of confrontation over Burma at the United Nations. DAS
John and AFM Cui also discussed the United States’ and
China’s overlapping interests in Southeast Asia. With DG Hu,
DAS John emphasized the importance of Indonesia and discussed
instability in East Timor, positive progress in the
Philippines and the situation in post-coup Thailand. EAP DAS
Thomas Christensen joined DAS John at the meetings. End
Summary.

Burma: United States-China Cooperation Vital
——————————————–

¶2. (S) DAS John told AFM Cui that while the United States
and China agree that Burma is a problem, we differ on what
venue and tools we should use to resolve it. We want to find
a creative way forward that produces tangible results. The
United States and China concur on the message we need to send
Burma’s generals; that is, that they should accept UN
engagement, release political prisoners, permit NGOs to
operate in-country and settle differences peacefully with
ethnic minorities. To advance the process, the United States
would like to work in parallel with China.

¶3. (S) AFM Cui responded that if the United States wants to
make a difference on Burma, it should engage directly with
General Than Shwe. For China, the situation in Burma is a
question of national security. China and Burma share a long
border and considerable historical and cultural ties. In
this context, China is very concerned about the potential for
unrest or political change in Burma. Over the past
half-century, Beijing and Rangoon have enjoyed good relations
and China has never interfered in its neighbor’s internal
affairs. The Government can solve its own problems, AFM Cui
judged. Nonetheless, China is aware that fighting between
Government forces and ethnic minorities has been a constant
over the years. While the Government has reached a
settlement with 17 of the 18 ethnic groups, it should
continue to work toward national reconciliation. Many of the
minorities live in border areas, AFM Cui observed, adding
that such conflicts risk harming China’s own security.

AFM Cui: Why China Vetoed
————————-

¶4. (S) AFM Cui contended that China is doing its part on
Burma. He related that during State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan’s
February 25-27 visit to the country (reftel), Tang met with
Than Shwe and other top generals. Tang conveyed a “very
clear” message to the leadership, specifically that 1) it
should speed up the political reform and reconciliation
process and 2) it should respond more constructively to the
concerns of the international community. At the same time,
China is encouraging ASEAN to exert positive pressure and to
continue to cooperate with the United States and China to
bring about “the kinds of changes in Burma we all want to
see.” The Burmese people are known for their patience, AFM
Cui maintained, so we must take a long-term approach.
Applying too much pressure on the leadership will likely
produce more resistance to outside appeals. However we
proceed, our main objective should be to maintain stability.
Governance in Burma may be bad, but a situation where there
is no governance would be much worse, AFM Cui said.

¶5. (S) Such concerns about stability prompted China to veto
the UN Security Council resolution on Burma in January, AFM
Cui remarked. China believes passing the resolution would

BEIJING 00001448 002.2 OF 004
have been counterproductive, although “we understand the
United States’ interests” in the matter. Despite the veto at
the UN, China wants to enhance its cooperation and
coordination with the United States on Burma issues.
Confrontation between Washington and Beijing serves no one’s
interests. As part of this, China favors the idea of the
United States opening some form of communication with General
Than Shwe. “We will see what we can do,” AFM Cui said,
adding that such a dialogue could help the United States and
China avoid future disputes at the UN. In China’s view,
international mechanisms other than the Security Council are
the proper venues for dealing with problems Burma faces
regarding human rights, drugs and other issues.

ASEAN’s Role on Burma
———————

¶6. (S) AFM Cui said ASEAN is growing “frustrated” with
Burma. After Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid’s poor
treatment during his 2006 visit to the country, ASEAN lost
its appetite to pursue new efforts. Nonetheless, China
continues to encourage ASEAN to do more and to coordinate its
efforts with those of China and the United States.
Meanwhile, China hopes UN SYG Ban Ki-moon will name a new
Special Envoy.

¶7. (S) DAS John underscored the importance of ASEAN’s
reaching out to the Burmese regime, especially as a way to
counter the generals’ paranoid belief that the United States’
is actively seeking to overthrow the regime. While agreeing
that taking a long-term view of Burma issues is useful, DAS
John emphasized that lack of good governance has been a
persistent problem for the country. In this context, he
cautioned that the Burmese leadership’s adoption of a new
constitution that serves to lock out certain parties from
political participation would be a step backward and could
harm United States-China cooperation. DAS Christensen
reaffirmed these views, adding that Burma’s making the wrong
decision on the constitution could result in antagonism
between the United States and China in the Security Council.
He stressed that the United States wants cooperation with
China on Burma.

¶8. (S) AFM Cui expressed confidence that positive change
will come to Burma, but it will take time. He predicted that
the change would be in line with the overall trend in
Southeast Asia, that is, that a number of nations in the
region have moved away from military rule toward a more open
system, including Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Indonesia’s President Yudhonoyo is no longer a general, AFM
Cui stressed. Thailand’s current military leadership will
not remain in power over the long haul. While there are
persistent rumors about military coups in the Philippines,
they rarely happen.

¶9. (S) AFM Cui acknowledged that the United States and China
should “take action before things get worse.” China’s role
as facilitator of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea could
serve as a model for bringing about an exchange between the
United States and Burma. As for next steps, AFM Cui and DAS
John agreed that Embassy Beijing and MFA Asia Division
officials would remain in contact on the matter.

DG Hu: Burma Likely Open to Dialogue
————————————

¶10. (S) In an earlier meeting with MFA DG for Asian Affairs
Hu Zhengyue, DAS John stressed our concerns over Burma’s
National Convention process producing a constitution that
excludes groups from participating in the country’s political
life. Such a step could hamper the ability of the United
States and China to cooperate and could cause quarrels
between us over Burma at the United Nations. Noting that
China has been in contact with the Burma’s SPDC leadership,
DAS John asked DG Hu for his views on how to stop Burma from
moving at high speed in the wrong direction.

¶11. (S) DG Hu said that in his personal view, a United
States-Burma dialogue would be productive and that Burma
would likely be open to conducting such a dialogue, with
Chinese facilitation. There are misunderstandings between
the United States and Burmese sides, DG Hu said, adding that
opening the door to direct communication is the best way to
achieve positive results. DAS John noted that the United
States has an Embassy in Rangoon but that the Burmese to date
have appeared uninterested in talking with us. Washington,

BEIJING 00001448 003.2 OF 004
however, remains committed to finding a diplomatic solution
to the problems in Burma. DG Hu promised to look into the
matter and respond soon.

DG Hu on State Councilor Tang’s Burma Visit
——————————————-

¶12. (S) DG Hu also outlined the highlights of State
Councilor Tang’s recent visit to Burma, relating that Tang
delivered a strong, clear message to General Than and Burma’s
other leaders. The main meeting lasted nearly three hours.
“We worked on them this time,” said DG Hu, who accompanied
Tang on the trip. According to DG Hu, Tang urged Burma to
take actions to address international concerns. The generals
said they would welcome a visit from any new UN Special Envoy
and that they are open to communication with National League
for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which they have
initiated via written correspondence. DG Hu related that
Burma’s leaders said National Conventions will convene during
the coming year and a new constitution will be completed by
the end of 2007. The generals are considering establishment
of political parties, eventually allowing these groups to
fully enter the political arena. They envision transferring
power to “a government that represents the will of the people
of Burma
at an appropriate time,” DG Hu quoted the generals as saying.

¶13. (S) The generals currently have three priorities, DG Hu
continued, 1) domestic stability, particularly with regard to
ending armed ethnic opposition, 2) economic growth, which DG
Hu described as “okay” but not great in Burma, and 3)
education and training. On economic growth, Burma is paying
close attention to China’s experience and wants to enhance
exchanges in this realm.

Mutual Interests in Southeast Asia
———————————-

¶14. (S) On regional issues, in his meeting ith AFM Cui, DAS
John stressed that Washington and Beijing should capitalize
on their mutual interest in promoting stability and
prosperity in Southeast Asia to dispel the perception that
the two are competing in a zero-sum game. The United States
hopes that China’s expanding trade relations in the region
will complement our long-standing efforts to promote
democracy and development. AFM Cui said Beijing’s interest
in Southeast Asia is not a threat, but a logical result of
geography, including China’s 2,500 mile land border with
Southeast Asian nations and sharing of the South China Sea.
Besides being China’s neighbor, Southeast Asia is also home
to millions of “overseas Chinese.” (Note: Beijing defines
any person of Chinese ancestry, regardless of citizenship, as
“overseas Chinese.” End note.) The United States and China
must discourage the Cold War mentality that cooperating with
one of us is an inherent rejection of the other, AFM Cui
said. Starting with peace efforts in Cambodia and continuing
through extensive cooperation in the Asian Regional Form
(ARF) and responding to the Asian Financial Crisis, the
United States and China have demonstrated the benefits of
working together.

¶15. (S) With DG Hu, DAS John noted that this year marks the
30th anniversary of United States-ASEAN relations, which we
look forward to commemorating with a presidential summit in
the second half of the year. Remarking that China celebrated
15 years of relations with ASEAN at 2006 summit, DG Hu
stressed the importance of the United States and China
supporting one another in maintaining a strong relationship
with ASEAN. The United States and China should seek joint
regional projects to demonstrate to ASEAN nations that they
need not choose between the two. DG Hu suggested that our
ambassadors in the region find joint opportunities to
highlight our engagement with ASEAN.

Indonesia
———

¶16. (S) The United States and China must work together to
promote democratization, economic growth and
counter-terrorism in Indonesia, DAS John stressed to DG Hu.
While President Susilo Yudhoyono has taken positive steps, we
must encourage further transparency, accountability and
military reform. Beijing should join Washington in pressing
for better governance and accountability in the military, the
Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI). Transparency in the TNI
would reinforce and encourage transparency in Indonesia’s

BEIJING 00001448 004.2 OF 004
government and public affairs in general, essential to
attracting much-needed foreign investment. We must also
press for reforms in labor and investment laws, as well as
judicious enforcement of those laws, DAS John urged DG Hu.

¶17. (S) Accepting that China can influence “the general
direction” of development in Indonesia, DG Hu cautioned that
Beijing must be sensitive to the political reality of a
significant ethnic Chinese population in Indonesia. Beijing
was “not impressed” with the presidents who led Indonesia the
aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s,
but has been pleased with President Yudhoyono’s progress
since taking power in 2004, DG Hu said. Jakarta faces the
challenge of decreasing the influence of the military and
promoting democracy, while simultaneously responding to
growing ethnic and religious tension. Beijing seeks to
promote secular Islam in Indonesia by encouraging interaction
with China’s 20 million Muslims. In recent years, the United
States and China have coordinated in providing assistance to
Indonesia following natural disasters. Beijing sees such
cooperation as a model for further such regional cooperation,
DG Hu said.

Desperately Seeking Stability in East Timor
——————————————-

¶18. (S) Beijing looks forward to cooperating with Washington
to promote stability in East Timor, DG Hu said, noting that
he would instruct China’s Ambassador to call on the new
United States Ambassador when he arrives in Dili. Beijing’s
primary concerns in East Timor are alleviating poverty and
avoiding a power struggle among large countries for influence
there. DAS John stressed Washington’s desire for East
Timor’s government to succeed and highlighted our cooperation
with Portugal and Australia towards achieving this goal. Hu
and John agreed that the United States and PRC embassies in
Dili should enhance their coordination.

Progress in the Philippines, but More Needed
——————————————–

¶19. (S) Seeing poverty as the key challenge facing the
Philippines, China has invested in its agricultural
development and transportation infrastructure, DG Hu
underlined. Beijing recognizes corruption as the second
significant problem facing the Philippines, but believes it
“cannot do much about that,” DG Hu said. Beijing sees
President Gloria Arroyo as a good leader because she has
shown that “she is in control.” DAS John agreed President
Arroyo has stabilized Philippine leadership and enacted
strong fiscal and economic policy, but stressed that Beijing
and Washington must encourage Manila to continue working hard
to promote transparency and good governance. John also
outlined the extremely successful approach to
counterterrorism the GRP has taken in Mindanao, with the
support of the United States. DG Hu assessed that, while
“working from different directions,” United States and
Chinese efforts in the Philippines are complementary.

Reinforcing Democracy in Post-Coup Thailand
——————————————-

¶20. (S) Thailand has a long history of peaceful democracy,
which is in China’s interest to support, DG Hu said. While
not an ideal turn of events, the September 2006 coup emanated
from “very specific circumstances” and did not involve
violence, DG Hu said. Noting that he had just returned from
Thailand, DG Hu quipped that, even with the coup, Thailand is
still more democratic than Singapore, highlighting his belief
that the coup was an aberration in Thai politics rather than
a signal of long-term change. Still, given the recent
resignation of former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Finance Pridiyathorn Thewakun and the reality that King
Phumiphon Adunyadet will not live forever, Beijing is closely
monitoring the political situation in Bangkok. China has
invited Thai Prime Minister Surayut Chulanon to visit China
in late May and hopes to use the visit as an opportunity to
demonstrate Beijing’s support for a stable, peaceful
transition of power in Thailand, DG Hu said.

¶21. (U) DAS John cleared this cable.
RANDT

   

 

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