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Cablegate: Taiwan Aid Proposal "in the Garbage?"

VZCZCXRO4975
RR RUEHGR
DE RUEHPO #0441/01 2321858
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201858Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9609
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0133
RUEHAO/AMCONSUL CURACAO 1148
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0019

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARAMARIBO 000441

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

WHA/CAR FOR JROSHOLT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV NS CH TW
SUBJECT: TAIWAN AID PROPOSAL "IN THE GARBAGE?"

REF: A. PARAMARIBO 297
B. PARAMARIBO 305
C. PARAMARIBO 315
D. PARAMARIBO 346

PARAMARIBO 00000441 001.2 OF 002


This cable is the fifth in a series (refs A-D) on Chinese and
Taiwanese activities in Suriname in the spring and summer of
2007.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A Surinamese delegation including four
parliamentarians traveled to Taiwan from July 16-20 on their
"personal title," and returned to Suriname with an "official"
offer of aid from the government of Taiwan (GOT). However,
the government of Suriname (GOS) has never acknowledged
receiving it, and one Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
policy advisor said on August 7 that he would advise the GOS
to "throw it in the garbage basket." Meanwhile, the
dollar-diplomacy battle between the GOT and the government of
China (GOC) continues, with the GOC making generous donations
via GOS Ministries, and the GOT creating ties with
non-governmental organizations*in some cases via opposition
politicians. While the GOT appears to have taken a small
step forward in its campaign to make itself the player in
Suriname, especially in public awareness, the GOS,s strong
support of the One-China Policy is, if anything, clearer than
ever. END SUMMARY

----------------------------
Four Parliamentarians Travel
----------------------------

2. (SBU) After lengthy public waffling (ref D), in the end
four parliamentarians journeyed to Taiwan for a
"familiarization visit," traveling in their personal
capacities rather than as officials representing the GOS.
The most prominent was Hendrik Sakimin, of the coalition
party Pertjaja Luhur; Pertjaja Luhur has significant
ethnic-Chinese support, and its Chairman, Speaker of
Parliament Paul Somohardjo, has Presidential aspirations for
2010. Sakimin was accompanied by fellow coalition
parliamentarian Henk Deel and opposition colleagues Rashied
Doekhie and Theo Vishnudatt. The most significant
non-participant was Deputy Speaker of Parliament Caprino
Alendy, who maintained until the last moment that he would
go, only to announce after the delegation had left that he
was staying behind out of concern for an ill fellow party
member. Alendy has not bothered to refute assertions that
his non-participation was a result of political pressure (an
interpretation promoted by Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian
himself, who told Surinamese media he regretted the political
pressure placed on Alendy not to participate).

---------------------------------
Taiwanese Offer "in the Garbage?"
---------------------------------

3. (SBU) There was significant back and forth in the press
as to whether the excuse of the parliamentarians of going on
"personal title" was valid or not. For their part, the GOT
did everything they could to make the delegation seem
official: most important, the GOT handed over a letter
offering aid, asking Sakimin to take it to GOS Minister of
Foreign Affairs Lygia Kraag-Keteldijk. However, weeks after
the delegation,s return, on August 8, Kraag-Keteldijk was
still saying simply "I haven,t received anything." One of
her policy advisors, Arnold Kruisland, was blunter, saying
that should she ever receive it, he would advise her "not to
react to it, or to throw it immediately into the garbage."
Kruisland speculated that Sakimin had never handed it over
because he was "advised not to." Sakimin responded on August
14 by saying he will indeed turn over the letter, but that he
is still trying to determine the proper protocol for doing so
as a "citizen." Meanwhile, Vice President Ram Sardjoe said,
"it was not an official delegation, how can there be talk of
an official offer of aid?"

--------------------------------------------- ------
China Offers 100s of 1000s; Ministers Gladly Accept
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. (SBU) The GOC did not stand idly by during the Taiwan
trip. On July 24, GOS Minister of Defense Ivan Fernald
accepted the gift of U.S. $600,000 in military goods from GOC
Ambassador to Suriname Su Ge. On August 8, GOS Minister of
Health Celsius Waterberg and Ambassador Su oversaw the
signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for technical
assistance for the GOS in the area of traditional medicine.

PARAMARIBO 00000441 002.2 OF 002


And from July 30 to August 2, a delegation of the Europe
China Foundation traveled to Suriname to explore investment
in an auto-assembly line, harbor facilities, a teak
plantation, and a bank and discussed its desire to use
Suriname as an entry-point for access to markets in the
Caribbean. The delegation was favored with meetings with
three Ministers, including Kraag-Keteldijk.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Taiwan Offers 1000s, NGOs and Opposition Gladly Accept
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (SBU) The delegation to Taiwan did not return
empty-handed, however; while the government of Taiwan made
clear that the millions in aid offered in the "official"
letter would require diplomatic recognition, the GOT did
promise to funnel some no-strings aid for four small projects
via NGOs: a ferry service, an agricultural school, subsidized
fertilizer, and a community center. And on August 4,
Suriname-Taiwan Friendship Foundation Chairperson David Chin
ceremonially handed over goods and a check worth
approximately U.S. $4600 to an orphanage in Paramaribo.
Taiwan participant and opposition parliamentarian Doekhie,s
district was the recipient of two of the projects. Fellow
participant Vishnudatt enthused that the GOS should
"reconsider diplomatic relations with Taiwan and make it a
top policy priority." However, even he found room for the
One-China Policy, adding that as Taiwan has now stopped
calling itself the Republic of China, "there is only one
China, on the continent of Asia... thus, our government
can now also undertake diplomatic relations with Taiwan."

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The idea of parliamentarians traveling on
their personal title was a thin farce, and the GOS,s clever
sidestep (refusing to consider the GOT proposal rather than
rejecting it outright) doesn,t underline their support of
China in the way the GOC no doubt would like. But gray-area
diplomacy is de rigueur for the GOS, and essentially, nothing
has changed politically on the One-China issue. At best, the
GOT can take satisfaction with once again having raised its
public profile: coverage and debate on the Taiwan/China
rivalry dominated the Surinamese press from March through
August. Taiwan,s foot is now in the door. It might also be
pleased with the favorable words the opposition
parliamentarians threw their way--but Vishnudatt,s party has
only one seat, and Doekhie held back from directly saying the
GOS should begin diplomatic relations with the GOT. As long
as China can continue to dump hundreds of thousands of
dollars worth of aid on Suriname in regular intervals,
Surinamese governments--whether made up of the current
coalition parties or future governments from out of the
opposition--are likely to continue to stick with the GOC as
the safe, known alternative (without a word about human
rights violations, environmental and safety disasters, and
one-party rule). How safe and known the GOC now considers
Suriname is harder to say: pricked by GOT efforts, the GOC
increasingly treats Suriname as a key battleground in its
fight for influence in the Caribbean. END COMMENT
SCHREIBER HUGHES

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