Cablegate: Prc/Pakistan: Close Cooperation On Key Issues, but the Two Capitals Don't See Eye-to-Eye


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E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/01/2016



1. (C) Summary. Recent speculation that China has agreed to provide Pakistan with additional nuclear reactors is “nonsense,” stated MFA Asian Affairs Department Deputy Division Director for Pakistan Wang Xilin, insisting that China will strictly adhere to its international obligations as a member of the nuclear suppliers group. A Pakistan embassy contact told us that “no one should be surprised” if an agreement is reached between the two countries to develop additional nuclear reactors, while saying that Pakistan would prefer to broaden its international nuclear cooperation. China and Pakistan are celebrating the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year and Beijing will send a high-level official to Islamabad before the end of the year. China continues to pursue “independent but parallel” relations with Pakistan and India, according to an MFA official. Pakistan is quite confidant that Hu Jintao will visit Islamabad in November, according to our Pakistan embassy contact. He also said that Pakistan welcomes the recent “confidence building measures” taken between India and China and that the PRC openly answers Pakistan's questions about Beijing's relations with India. End summary.

Nuclear cooperation between China and Pakistan
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2. (C) China has no plans at this time to provide Pakistan additional nuclear reactors, stated MFA Asian Affairs Department Deputy Director Division Director for Pakistan Wang Xilin. During an August 25 meeting requested by PolOff, Wang said that recent Pakistan media reports on a proposed deal between Beijing and Islamabad are “nonsense” and “groundless speculation.” Under the provisions of the 1986 China-Pakistan nuclear cooperation agreement, the Chasma II project is proceeding smoothly. To date, Pakistan has been “very satisfied” with the aid China has provided but as far as future nuclear cooperation is concerned, Wang said that as a member of the nuclear suppliers group, China will strictly adhere to its international obligations.

3. (C) Pakistan's “good cooperation” with China in the nuclear field will continue and “no one should be surprised” if an agreement is reached between the two countries to jointly develop additional nuclear reactors, according to Pakistan embassy officer Naveed Safdar Bokhari. During an August 24 meeting, Bokhari said that Pakistan’s ambassador is the sole person at the Pakistan embassy who handles Pakistan- China nuclear cooperation, voicing that for Pakistan this is a very sensitive issue. “It's a fact” that Islamabad already has nuclear weapons stated Bokhari, who argued that “how Pakistan acquired the technology is now irrelevant.” Islamabad is also seeking to diversify its nuclear cooperation with other countries. Bohkari commented that it is dangerous for Pakistan to rely on only one source of technology and that only having one nuclear partner casts the relationship in the “wrong color.”

Fourth round of Pakistan-China defense consultations
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4. (C) China and Pakistan reached agreement to strengthen military personnel exchanges during the fourth round of Pakistan-China defense consultations held August 16, according to Wang, who said she had few details about the meetings held in Pakistan. Wang claimed she had not received a briefing from the PLA on the outcome of the consultations. The two militaries also reached an agreement to hold another counterterrorism exercise due to the success of last year's.

5. (C) Bokhari had no specific details on the fourth round but emphatically stated that Pakistan's military cooperation with China is “transparent.” Pakistan has “normal” military exchanges with China's army, navy and air force, he said. President Musharraf toured an air force base and plane factory in Chengdu during his March 2006 visit. Bokhari stated that unlike Pakistan's relations in the nuclear field, Islamabad's military relations are very diversified. Pakistan enjoys strong military cooperation with every major world power, Bokhari asserted.

Counterterrorism cooperation

6. (C) The National People's Congress (NPC) is likely to pass the Sino-Pakistan “cooperative agreement on combating the three evil forces” in the near future, Wang said. Before the treaty was presented to the NPC, the MFA sought approval from the state council because provincial officials had reservations about the impact the treaty would have on provincial budgets. Wang believed the treaty would receive some debate in the NPC but confidently predicted the bill would pass. (Note: the treaty was presented by VFM Wu Dawei on August 22, and was ratified August 27. End note.) Wang pointed out that China and Pakistan cooperate closely to combat the “three evils.”

7. (C) Effective cooperation to fight terrorism is vital to the future of the region, stated Bokhari, noting that failure to secure Pakistan's borders and to pacify tribal leaders would “lead to disaster.” Pointing to PRC concern about the East Turkistan movement, he said Pakistan has recently apprehended several East Turkistan suspects and is cooperating closely with China in following the activities of East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO) as well as the East Turkistan Independence Movement (ETIM). Bokhari pointed out that Pakistan-China counterterrorism cooperation tends to focus on improving the economies in areas that could be used as areas of operations for terrorist groups. Bokhari says this approach is tied to China's “western development” program and noted that China is actively building dams, roads, electrical grids and schools on both sides of their shared border.

President Hu Jintao to visit Pakistan?

8. (C) China and Pakistan have frequent high-level leadership exchanges, Wang said. This year is the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and a high level visit to Islamabad is expected. Wang said that Beijing is still considering who will visit, noting that President Hu Jintao may make the trip.

9. (C) Bokhari stated that he is “quite confident” that Hu Jintao will visit Pakistan this November, pointing out that this would be just one stop on Hu's itinerary. Pakistan also welcomes Hu’s visit to India, he said.

Balancing Sino, Indian and Pakistani relations
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10. (C) China pursues independent but parallel relations with India and Pakistan, Wang said. Beijing promotes relations with each country on their own “track” but at different levels. Wang said that developing parallel relations does not mean taking the same action for each country at the same time.

11. (C) Pakistan welcomes the recent “confidence building measures” taken between India and China, such as the opening of the Nathu La pass, stated Bokhari. Security in the region requires major powers, including China, to pursue balanced relations with Pakistan and India he said. Bokhari cautioned that the major powers must be careful not to appear as if they are aligned with either Pakistan or India. Pakistan has close, friendly relations with China that are not undermined by long-held suspicions “unlike views of the United States and the United Kingdom,” stated Bohkari. China openly answers Pakistan's questions about Beijing's relations with India and provides clear reasons for its policies toward India.

12. (C) Bokhari said that Islamabad was “very pleased” that President Bush called President Musharraf on August 23, calling the phone call an “important confidence building measure.” Ever since the United States announced the U.S.-India civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, Pakistan has been harboring some suspicions toward the United States, stated Bokhari. Bokhari also said the Pakistan appreciated assistant Secretary Boucher's statement after the July Mumbai bombing.

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