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Cablegate: Afghanistan - Managing the Neighbors: China

VZCZCXRO6900
OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHSL RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #2404/01 2320912
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 200912Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5722
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI IMMEDIATE 0266
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA IMMEDIATE 0470
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT IMMEDIATE 0755
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO IMMEDIATE 0369
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 9759
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE IMMEDIATE
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 9389
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI IMMEDIATE 4930
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH IMMEDIATE 0678
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL IMMEDIATE 1341
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT IMMEDIATE 0078
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 0024
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON IMMEDIATE 0009
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 0116

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 002404

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/CM AND S/SRAP - JANE MARRIOTT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2029
TAGS: PREL PGOV AF CH
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN - MANAGING THE NEIGHBORS: CHINA

REF: A. STATE 085136
B. BEIJING 998

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Aubrey Carlson. Reasons 1.
4 (b, d)
1. (C) Summary: China´s interests in promoting stability
along its borders, combating unrest in its western Xinjiang
province, and exploiting natural resources in Afghanistan to
fuel its domestic economic growth would be advanced by a
successful election in Afghanistan, according to PRC scholars
and diplomats. MFA officials stress that the United States
and China share "common interests" in Afghan elections
conducted "smoothly and securely" and affirm that China would
respect the choice of the Afghan people. We assess that
China will seek to play a positive public role in
post-election Afghanistan, though its actions and statements
will continue to avoid direct, high-profile association with
U.S. military activities and diplomatic efforts. End Summary.
MFA: U.S. and PRC Views on Election "Exactly the Same"
--------------------------------------------- ---------
2. (C) China shares a common interest with the United States
in ensuring that the August 20 Afghan elections proceed
"smoothly and securely," MFA Asian Affairs Department
Pakistan and Afghanistan Division Acting Director Hou Yanqi
told PolOff on August 19 in response to ref A points urging
PRC cooperation in ensuring Afghan elections are credible,
secure and inclusive. Noting the Secretary´s August 17
statement describing U.S. support and expectations for the
Afghan elections, Director Hou said China´s views "are
exactly the same." Hou reiterated the PRC position on the
Afghan election offered by Assistant Foreign Minister Hu
Zhengyue in his April 15 presentation to SRAP Holbrooke in
Beijing, namely that China hoped the elections would be fair
and just and that the new government would be broad-based,
represent all of Afghanistan´s ethnic groups and be dedicated
to peace and harmony with its neighbors and the international
community. China had no preference for candidates and would
respect the choice of the Afghan people.
China´s Strategic Interests in Afghan Election
--------------------------------------------- -
3. (C) Given its shared border with Afghanistan, its acute
sensitivity to the potential spread of unrest from
Afghanistan into western China and its significant
investments in Afghanistan´s natural resources, China has a
strong interest in post-election stability in Afghanistan.
MFA´s Hou stressed that China was "highly concerned" about
the security situation in Afghanistan, citing an August 15
car-bomb attack outside of NATO headquarters and separate
rocket attacks August 18 near the Chinese Embassy in Kabul.
China shared U.S. concern about the potential for
post-election violence, particularly if a second round of
voting were required. China had an immediate interest in the
safety of its embassy staff and the more than 120 Chinese
workers at the Aynak copper mine, as well as a broader
interest in Afghanistan´s security and development, according
to Hou. More broadly, PRC officials regularly express
concern about the East Turkestan Islamic Movement´s potential
use of Afghanistan as a staging base for launching attacks on
Chinese interests both within the region and in China, and
emphasize China´s "major interest" in the fight against East
Turkestan separatists.
4. (C) China is also focused on protecting its natural
resource investments in Afghanistan, in particular, the
3-billion-USD investment of state-owned China Metallurgical
Group Corporation (MCC) in the Aynak copper mine, the largest
foreign investment project in Afghanistan. Chinese
state-owned companies are vying for large contracts to
develop the Hajigak iron deposit in central Afghanistan and
oil and gas fields in northern Afghanistan. Afghan EmbOff
[TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] noted to EmbOffs August 17 that if Chinese
companies were successful in winning these bids, total
Chinese investment in Afghanistan could surpass USD 20
billion by 2014, making China the largest foreign investor in
Afghanistan. Security concerns, however, dictate the pace of
Chinese investment in Afghanistan. Although China welcomed
Afghanistan´s deployment of 1500 national police guards to
help secure the area surrounding the Aynak copper mine,
ongoing MCC concerns about security had slowed progress on
the project. According to Afghan diplomat [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN], MCC was
cautiously waiting to assess the post-election security
environment before it increased the number of Chinese workers
at the copper mine project.
China Invested in a Safe and Credible Election
5. (C) Chinese officials and scholars have emphasized
repeatedly the common U.S. and Chinese interest in a safe and
credible election. According to Afghan diplomat [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN], China
was invested in the election, having contributed USD 500,000
to Afghan authorities to support implementation.
Engaging China on the Election
------------------------------
6. (C) Given China´s strategic interests in Afghanistan, we
believe the PRC will on its own initiative use its contacts
in Afghanistan to urge restraint among vying parties and
factions in the event of post-election unrest. However,
China will strive to avoid high-profile identification with
U.S. initiatives or interests in the region. As China Daily,
the Chinese Communist Party´s flagship English-language
mouthpiece, stated in its June 19 editorial: "(Afghan)
election day is a test for U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and
Pakistan." We could best ensure a helpful public Chinese
role by encouraging China to issue constructive post-election
statements and to support such statements from the United
Nations and other members of the international community.
GOLDBERG

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