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Cablegate: Staffdel Mixter Discusses Northeast Asian

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DE RUEHBJ #2514/01 1070126
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170126Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6907
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS BEIJING 002514

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CORRECTED COPY - SIGNATURE ADDED
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SENV CH JA KS KN

SUBJECT: STAFFDEL MIXTER DISCUSSES NORTHEAST ASIAN
POLITICS AND PM WEN'S TRIP TO JAPAN AND ROK WITH
CHINESE SCHOLAR

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Japan
expert Jin Xide told Staffdel Mixter that Premier
Wen's visit to Japan aims to enhance China's image in
the minds of the Japanese public. Energy, including
cooperation on energy conservation and the dispute
over gas in the East China Sea, is a key topic of
Wen's visit. Tensions over history between China and
its Northeast Asian neighbors, including over PM Abe's
remarks on comfort women and on the ancient Korean
kingdom of Koguryo, have calmed recently. PRC-ROK
relations are very strong and Sino-Japan relations are
on an improving trend, Jin said, although a visit by
PM Abe to Yasukuni Shrine would cause severe damage.
Staffdel member Dennis Halpin raised the likelihood of
protests over the comfort women issue and asked about
the impact of China's environmental problems on its
Northeast Asian neighbors. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan is
designed to improve the Japanese public's view of
China and enhance Sino-Japanese cooperation, CASS
Japan Institute scholar Jin Xide told Staffdel Mixter
in an April 10 meeting. Premier Wen will focus his
talks in Tokyo on security issues and joint
cooperation, Jin said, not on historical issues,
noting that China "would not be the first to play the
history card against Abe." Bilateral tension over
history sparked by former PM Koizumi's visits to
Yasukuni Shrine history are being resolved in
nongovernmental fields, Jin said, offering elites and
businesspeople in both countries an opportunity to
work on improving relations. Chinese elites had an
improved view of PM Abe after his visit to China in
October 2006, but the Chinese public remains wary of
Abe's intentions. If Abe visits Yasukuni Shrine in
October to shore up his domestic political support
after Upper House elections in Japan in July, it would
do severe damage to otherwise improving bilateral
relations with both China and the ROK, according to
Jin.

3. (SBU) Staffdel member Dennis Halpin said Japan
wants a seat on the UNSC, resolution of disputes over
oil and gas in the East China Sea and Chinese support
for its position on the abduction of Japanese citizens
by North Korea. But, he asked, what does China want
from Japan? Jin said Japan's "attitude of dominance"
is China's biggest difficulty. Premier Wen would also
discuss with PM Abe China's concerns about security
issues, especially as relates to Taiwan. Jin
confirmed Halpin's statement that China had wanted
language on Taiwan inserted into the joint communiqu
signed during Wen's visit, while Japan had wanted
language on DPRK abductions. Neither side got what it
wanted, Jin noted, so the joint communiqu focused on
bilateral cooperation on energy and energy
conservation.

4. (SBU) Halpin asked about Chinese views toward the
ROK and whether dispute continues over some Koreans
view that ancient Koguryo kingdom once included
Chinese territory. Jin said bilateral relations
between China and the ROK are very good and that few
people other than historians focused on the Koguryo
issue today. The Chinese leadership does not
understand how sensitive these issues are for Koreans,
said Jin (noting that he is ethnic Korean). Jin
confirmed that CASS has a special research institute
that looks at border disputes and frontier issues with
all of its neighbors. One such institute, the
Northeast Project, has done significant research on
Koguryo, Jin said, but the project does not target the
ROK in any way. The Chinese government believes
Koguryo is a question of historical research. Neither
Beijing nor Seoul wants this to become a diplomatic or
territorial issue, Jin said, although he noted that
ROK President Roh did raise the issue in a bilateral
meeting on the margins of the East Asian Summit
earlier this year.

5. (SBU) Halpin told Jin that groups in the United
States were angered by Premier Abe's remarks about
comfort women and would likely protest during Abe's


visit to Washington at the end of the month. Groups
were also planning to ask Chinese government
permission to demonstrate in front of the Japanese
Embassy in Beijing. A study group from Japan's LDP is
interested at looking into history issues, including
the Nanjing massacre, Halpin said. Jin expressed
interest in the developments and said Chinese views
are divided on the impact of PM Abe's remarks on
comfort women. China will wait to see, Jin said,
whether the remarks reflect a Japanese strategy to try
to show its strength by denying WWII history or
whether they are mistaken remarks supported by only a
few.

Environmental Issues Affect Northeast Asian Affairs
--------------------------------------------- ------

6. (SBU) In a separate meeting, Halpin asked about the
impact of China's environmental problems on relations
in Northeast Asia. MFA Treaty and Law (Kyoto Protocol)
Department DDG Su Wei said dust storms from China that
affect neighboring countries were better this year
than last year. China was very active in planting
trees to prevent desertification, he said. In
response to a question about Premier Wen's visit to
Japan and the ongoing oil and natural gas dispute in
the East China Sea, DDG Su said discussions about
energy in the East China Sea were ongoing and would
likely be a topic of Premier Wen's visit to Tokyo, but
added that this is not his area of expertise or
responsibility.

7. (U) This message is SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED and
should not be distributed outside the USG or posted on
the Internet. The Staffdel did not have an
opportunity to clear this message.


RANDT

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