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Cablegate: Dos Santos's China Visit Demonstrates Strong Bilateral Ties

R 311340Z DEC 08 ZDK RUEHSD0001
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5244
INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY BEIJING

UNCLAS LUANDA 001023


C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADDED SUBJECT TAG)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL AO
SUBJECT: DOS SANTOS'S CHINA VISIT DEMONSTRATES STRONG BILATERAL TIES

1. SUMMARY: President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' December 16-19 visit
to China aimed to strengthen formal ties between the two states,
focusing on aviation, business, and technical cooperation. The
ministerial delegation accompanying Dos Santos concluded accords in
those areas, while Dos Santos personally reached out to business
leaders for further investment and the Chinese ExIm Bank for
additional credit. From the Chinese perspective, the visit appears
to have been more about form than substance. Further analysis with
the Angolan perspective will be reported septel. END SUMMARY.

---------------------
Pomp and Circumstance
---------------------

2. President Dos Santos met with the highest levels of the Chinese
government during his December 16-19 visit to Beijing. In addition
to meeting President Hu Jintao, Dos Santos met Premier Wen Jiabao
and the leader of the Chinese National People's Congress, Wu
Bangguo. Chinese ExImBank President Li Ruogu stated after his
meeting with Dos Santos that current Chinese projects in Angola are
running well. Li affirmed his institution's intention to continue
underwriting Chinese investment in Angola, but did not specify loan
amounts, in addition to the current USD5 billion line of credit.
Dos Santos also met with business leaders including Fan Jixiang,
president of Sinohydro, which has upwards of 70 projects in Angola;
Zhi Yulin, vice president of Norinco, an industrial services firm;
and Chan Yushang, president of CRBC, a road construction firm.

------------------------
Bilateral Accords Signed
------------------------

3. On the margins of the President's visit, Angola's ministers of
Transportation, Foreign Affairs, and Finance and signed accords with
their Chinese counterparts related to civil aviation, economic and
technical cooperation, and cultural exchanges. While China's
Minister of Civil Aviation, Li Jiaxing, announced that Air China
would offer seven flights weekly between Angola and China in 2009,
the Chinese embassy in Angola said the aviation accord only affirmed
the parties' intention to move forward with direct flights, and that
official authorization could take some time.

4. Apart from deal-making, the President's trip was educational and
cultural in nature, exposing Dos Santos and his delegation to
Chinese ideas about governance and economic development. Dos Santos
visited Beijing's municipal planning offices and a museum on
development in China. On December 20, the state-owned daily Jornal
de Angola featured stories on the economic and social "miracle" that
is Chinese reform and development.

5. Comment: Dos Santos's visit to China offered an opportunity for
both countries to demonstrate and celebrate a mutually beneficial
bilateral relationship built around oil and developmental economics.
Despite some grumblings earlier in the year from senior GRA
officials concerning Angola's overdependence on Chinese development
loans, the optics of the President's visit seem to indicate that
business will continue as usual. End Comment.

HAWKINS

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