Cablegate: Minister of Civil Affairs Discusses Paralympics,

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O 080544Z SEP 08



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1. (SBU) In a September 5 meeting, Minister of Civil Affairs
Li Xueju welcomed Secretary of Veterans Affairs James B.
Peake, head of the U.S. Presidential Delegation to the
Paralympic Games, and wished U.S. athletes success. Minister
Li said that with assistance from the international
community, the Chinese people have achieved an "interim
victory" in earthquake relief and are now turning attention
to reconstruction in Sichuan and other earthquake-affected
areas. On veterans' issues, Minister Li shared China's
experience with helping resettle and reemploy veterans and
expressed a desire to learn from the U.S. experience. He
said that one of the biggest challenges facing China is to
provide resettlement and health care services for demobilized
soldiers, adding that China has had only limited success and
"many problems" addressing this issue. He said that his
Ministry is trying to come up with a "reasonable, uniform"
system of support for veterans. In response, Secretary Peake
noted that the United States also faces natural disasters and
the Department of Veterans Affairs works with other agencies
to deal with such contingencies. He said that the United
States also faces challenges in helping men and women
transition from active service to civilian life and noted
that the department provides health care, educational
assistance, and preferential housing loans to veterans.
Secretary Peake and Minister Li agreed to maintain
communication and cooperation on issues of common concern.
End Summary.

Paralympics Hope to Build on Olympics' Success
--------------------------------------------- -

2. (SBU) In a September 5 meeting with Secretary of Veterans
Affairs James B. Peake, head of the U.S. Presidential
Delegation to the Paralympic Games, Chinese Minister of Civil
Affairs Li Xueju noted that the recently concluded Olympic
Games were "very successful." They helped promote the
Olympic spirit of solidarity and friendship. He
congratulated the United States on winning the most medals
and praised the U.S. performance, especially those of swimmer
Michael Phelps and the U.S. men's basketball team, which he
said left a "deep impression" on the Chinese. Minister Li
said that President Bush's attendance at the opening
ceremony, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao's attendance at the
closing ceremony, and now Secretary Peake's visit show U.S.
support for the Olympics and Paralympics. Hosting Secretary
Peake as head of the U.S. Paralympic Delegation is a "great
honor," Minister Li said, and he extended his "best wishes"
for U.S. success in the Paralympics.

Earthquake Relief

3. (SBU) Minister Li noted that the Ministry of Civil Affairs
(MCA) has played an important role in disaster relief in the
wake of the May 12 earthquake centered in Wenchuan, Sichuan
Province. Noting "very serious losses" from the quake,
Minister Li said he visited the affected area six times. Due
to efforts of the Government and the Chinese people, as well
as help from the international community, an "interim
victory" has been achieved in relief efforts. The basic
needs of victims have been addressed, but now the Chinese
Government and people must turn to the reconstruction effort.
He expressed appreciation for the condolences expressed by
U.S. Government officials and ordinary Americans as well as
for U.S. support for the disaster relief effort.

MCA Responsible for Veterans

4. (SBU) Minister Li stated that the MCA deals with providing
resettlement, retraining, and employment assistance to
retired and demobilized soldiers from the People's Liberation
Army and the People's Armed Police. Noting that Li's
predecessor, Doje Cering, visited the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs in 2002 to exchange views on these issues,
Minister Li said that his Ministry remains interested in
studying U.S. experiences and ideas.

5. (SBU) Minister Li explained that the MCA helps to provide

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preferential treatment for veterans to prepare them for
civilian life, including assistance in obtaining employment
and housing and/or training veterans to start their own
businesses. The Ministry provides additional benefits for
the families of soldiers, police, or workers who are martyred
or disabled, including special consideration for housing,
healthcare insurance and providing regular living allowances.
Veterans with slight disabilities are eligible for programs
to help them find jobs equal to their capacity. Individuals
with more serious disabilities are provided institutional

Challenges in Heath Care, Resettlement

6. (SBU) Minster Li explained that China's biggest challenges
with assisting veterans are the issues of healthcare and
resettlement. Many of the veterans have chronic ailments or
because of advanced age may have frequent health issues. The
Chinese health care system lacks capacity to provide needed
care, but the Ministry is working on more preferential
policies to help improve healthcare for veterans.

7 (SBU) Arranging resettlement and employment for all the
demobilized soldiers is also difficult, Minister Li said.
Despite Government efforts to assist veterans, there have
been "many problems." (Note: Demobilized soldiers have
staged demonstrations in recent years, the most well-known of
which was in April 2005, when 1600 demobilized officers
marched on the PLA's General Political Department in
Beijing.) Li noted that though the MCA is trying to create a
"reasonable, uniform" system of support for veterans, because
of "differing local conditions" in China, some areas have had
success in resettling veterans and others have not been so
successful. Minister Li said that in addition to Government
efforts, Chinese society should also play a role in helping
veterans reintegrate in society, adding that during wars, it
is easy to love the troops, but less so in peacetime.
Minister Li expressed hope that the military's outstanding
contribution to quake relief, in which as many as 100,000
soldiers went to the front line to face the dangerous
conditions, will increase society's "love and support" of

Honored to Lead Paralympics Delegation

8. (SBU) Saying he was honored to lead the U.S. Presidential
Delegation to the Paralympics, Secretary Peake expressed
appreciation for Minister Li's hospitality and admiration for
the efforts Beijing has made to host the Olympics and
Paralympics, noting he personally stayed up "many late
nights" watching the games. Secretary Peake wished the 330
Chinese athletes participating in the Paralympic Games as
much success in the Paralympics as their counterparts enjoyed
in the Olympics.

United States Also Plagued by Natural Disasters
--------------------------------------------- --

9. (SBU) Expressing sympathy over the May earthquake,
Secretary Peake said that the United States also must deal
with the "power of Mother Nature," noting the damage caused
recently by Hurricane Gustav and the potential additional
disruptions from two more hurricanes currently moving off the
east coast of the United States. While the first duty of the
military is to defend the country, the U.S. military also can
provide stability, hope and safety in times of natural
calamities. In the face of natural disasters, the Department
of Veterans Affairs has provided needed facilities and has
coordinated with other agencies to move veterans and provide
home loans for reconstruction.

Care of Veterans Inspires Service to Country

10. (SBU) Secretary Peake noted that the U.S. Government
deals with similar issues as China in helping men and women
transfer from active duty to civilian life. The Department
is heavily involved in providing healthcare and has a network
of hospitals and clinics for veterans. For those who are
disabled, the U.S. Government provides compensation,
training, educational benefits, and home purchase support.
George Washington once observed that the way a country treats
its veterans determines the willingness of others to serve

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their country. Noting that every country faces challenges in
reemploying veterans, Secretary Peake expressed appreciation
for Minister's Li's insights into China's situation.
Secretary Peake and Minister Li each expressed willingness to
increase communication and cooperation in relevant fields.

11. (U) The delegation cleared this message.

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