Cablegate: Going to Taiwan: Surinamese Parlimentary Visit

DE RUEHPO #0346/01 1871912
R 061912Z JUL 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


B. 2007 PARAMARIBO 172
C. 2006 PARAMARIBO 698
D. 2006 PARAMARIBO 286
E. 2006 PARAMARIBO 431

PARAMARIBO 00000346 001.2 OF 002

This cable is the fourth in a series on Chinese and Taiwanese
activities in Suriname in the spring of 2007.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In the latest attempt by the Government
of Taiwan (GOT) to butter up the Surinamese for eventual
diplomatic recognition (ref A), several parliamentarians from
the Government of Suriname (GOS) were invited to Taiwan for a
"familiarization" visit. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament
says he will attend, not in his political capacity, but on
his "personal title," and looks to be joined by
representatives from two other coalition parties. In
reaction, the Government of China (GOC) summoned the GOS
Ambassador in Beijing for an explanation of how this affects
the GOS stance on the "One-China Policy," and dispatched
emissaries in Paramaribo to voice disapproval. Minister of
Foreign Affairs Lygia Kraag-Keteldijk spoke publicly in favor
of the Chinese line, asking for a "political solution" from
her coalition. However, other prominent Surinamers,
including Speaker of Parliament Paul Somohardjo, spoke out
angrily on what they see as bullying by the GOC. Despite
scoring a public relations victory, it may be for naught for
the GOT: the largest coalition partners remain staunch
supporters of the GOC, and the opposition has begun to show
signs that it is as well. The heavy-handed reaction of the
GOC has again shown the importance Beijing places on

Come Recognize the Beauty of Taiwan

2. (U) At the very moment that Surinamese Vice President Ram
Sardjoe was sending out press releases from China claiming
success for his courtesy call there, on June 16 Taiwan struck
back by inviting a delegation of prominent Surinamers to
visit on a familiarization trip. The GOT invited select
business, union, press, and political figures to visit
between July 16-20 and "get to know the diverse aspects of
Taiwan, including the culture, nature, the economy, the
democratic order, and the charm of the lovely island"... and,
of course, to meet the Foreign Minister.

Coalition Parties Disagree, Waffle

3. (SBU) Parliamentarians from three of the seven coalition
parties went back and forth in the press as to whether to
participate. The most prominent to still say he is going is
Deputy Speaker Caprino Alendy, despite internal criticism
from within his strife-ridden (ref B) coalition grouping,
A-Combination. Fellow A-Combination parliamentarian and
rival Ronny Brunswijk said there is no such thing as
traveling on "personal title" for members of parliament.
Meanwhile, fellow coalition party and longtime China-skeptic
(ref C) Democratic Alternative ,91 (DA ,91) is sending
as-yet unnamed "representatives." Opportunistic coalition
member/nuisance, Pertjaja Luhur (ref D), remains undecided as
to whether its participation will be at the parliamentary
level or not.

Beijing Displeasure Plays as Heavy-Handed

4. (SBU) In Beijing, GOS Ambassador Isaak Soerokarso was
summoned to explain the incident, while officials from the
GOC Embassy in Suriname visited the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs to express disappointment. As usual, GOC allies in
the GOS reacted swiftly to Chinese prompting. Foreign
Minister Lygia Kraag-Keteldijk told the press "we are
bringing upon ourselves great embarrassment with this
question internationally," and called for a "political
solution." As usual, she repeated GOS support for the
"One-China Policy." Others were not as malleable. Speaker
of Parliament Paul Somohardjo, who cut short a business trip
to Germany to return to discuss the question internally, said
the GOC is "making a mistake," and said he found the GOC
behavior pushy. He appeared to reverse the party,s decision
not to send parliamentarian Hendrik Sakimin, saying the party

PARAMARIBO 00000346 002.2 OF 002

has to look into it. Somohardjo was not alone in his
disapproval of the GOC reaction. DA'91 said no ambassador
should be allowed to say with whom Suriname may have ties.
Voices in the media called the GOC behavior everything from
"unacceptable" to "a grave violation of our integrity," and
former Speaker of Parliament Emile Wijntuin wrote a letter to
the editor whose headline asked, "Is Suriname on the Way to
Becoming a Colony of China?" When asked about the brouhaha
in the local press during the U.S. Embassy 4th of July event,
Chinese Ambassador Su Ge shrugged it off, quoting a GOS MFA
official who told him, "it,s more noise than news." Su
lamented it,s too bad that people are trying to sow seeds of
conflict, since Taiwan is "just a province of China."

Opposition Interest Nuanced

4. (SBU) While the original announcement of the visit
claimed opposition politicians would participate, few
opposition names have subsequently surfaced, and with minimal
public discussion. Opposition parliamentarian Hariette
Ramdien of the People,s Alliance for Progress (VVV) told
EmbOffs her party will in fact send two representatives, but
also said her party and the opposition in general will
continue to support a One-China Policy. Another source told
post the VVV will send one of its parliamentarians.
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Party, Suriname,s largest
party, led by former military strongman Desi Bouterse, has
been silent on the issue, but press reports indicate former
NDP presidential candidate Rashied Doekhie will attend on
behalf of the party. The NDP is in a poor position to oppose
the One-China Policy, which it supported when it held the
Presidency under Jules Wijdenbosch in the late 1990,s.
Wijdenbosch,s government also inaugurated the Surinamese
trend to bring in large Chinese companies when it contracted
with Dalian on a road building project. For their part, the
Chinese have also been more forgiving of Bouterse than other
bilateral actors in the past (ref E).

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Taiwan,s activities in Suriname are
clearly driving the Chinese to distraction, and this latest
round seems to have been "won" by the Taiwanese: the Chinese
made themselves look bad with their heavy-handed
overreaction, and the failure of China,s allies in the
government to put an end to coalition participation in the
trip to Taiwan indicates that support for the One-China
Policy in Suriname is less cut-and-dried than the GOC would
wish. However, Post cannot envision a scenario through which
this or any subsequent GOS would recognize Taiwan. The
coalition parties who have played up to Taiwan are mostly
small, and do not have the clout or the interest to force a
change within the coalition. Opposition disinterest further
damages Taiwanese hopes. Unlike China, Taiwan has not been
able to attract powerful allies--its friends are mostly
marginal players or outsiders. Finally, while the press has
shown great displeasure with GOC pressure, there has also
been a steady stream of articles indicating preference for,
as one analyst put it, the "giant" China over the "dwarf"
Taiwan, and a general disapproval over their unseemly
competition. What is most interesting about the continued
fracas is the importance "giant" China continues to place on
tiny, perceived-backwater Suriname. Often dismissed as
insignificant in international politics, this neglected
stretch of resource-rich virgin rainforest run by
opportunistic politicians has great interest for Beijing.

© Scoop Media

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