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Viewing cable 07BEIJING1448, DAS JOHN DISCUSSES BURMA, SOUTHEAST ASIA WITH AFM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BEIJING1448 2007-03-05 12:12 2010-12-12 21:09 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