Search

 

Cablegate: South China-Southeast Asia Relationship - Growing Closer,

VZCZCXRO6916
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGZ #0504/01 2320917
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200917Z AUG 09
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0864
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0673
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0236
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0171
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0170
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0181
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0176
RUEHGZ/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0233
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC 0135
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC 0087
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0224
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC 0220

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 GUANGZHOU 000504

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, EEB
STATE PASS USTR

E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A
TAGS: ECON PREL EFIN ETRD EINV PGOV CH VM SN MY
SUBJECT: South China-Southeast Asia Relationship - Growing Closer,
Still Dominated by Trade and Investment

GUANGZHOU 00000504 001.2 OF 003


1. (SBU) Summary and comment: Local governments and businesses in
south China are using a range of tools to capitalize on the region's
proximity with Southeast Asia to increase trade and attract
investment. Annual trade expos, special economic zones and
infrastructure development are among the initiatives that have been
employed to bring the two areas closer together economically.
Cultural similarities, particularly in languages, and tourism are
facilitating the effort. Comments from local representatives of
ASEAN countries suggest that while they are well aware of China's
economic strengths and the advantages of a closer economic
relationship, they also note its weaknesses and recognize their
neighbor to the north as competitor as well as a partner. End
summary and comment.

----------------
Showcasing Trade
----------------
2. (SBU) The annual China-ASEAN Expo is perhaps the most prominent
example of the efforts to highlight and strengthen south China's
growing economic relationship with Southeast Asia. In 2004, the
Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the governments of the ten ASEAN
nations (Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) sponsored the first
China-ASEAN Expo to promote trade. The Expo has been held on an
annual basis in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous
Region, which borders Vietnam, ever since.
3. (SBU) According to Professor Wang Juan of Guangxi University, the
China-ASEAN Expo has been a success. Participants and exhibits are
increasing each year, and the nature of the products being exhibited
is evolving too. In the past, exhibits mainly focused on
agriculture, garments, and shoes, she said. Now, when you walk the
Guangzhou and Shanghai halls, electrical and machine-based products
are more visible. While Laos and Vietnam promote aquaculture
products, Malaysia publicizes education and Singapore touts its
banking sector.
-----------------------------
Zones, Circles, and Corridors
-----------------------------
4. (SBU) Scholars in south China point out that the China-ASEAN Free
Trade Area, which will be created in 2010 according to the
China-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Framework (CACECF),
will build on and facilitate localized efforts to develop trade and
investment relations. Professor Gu Xiaosong, Deputy Director of the
Southeast Asian Studies Institute and Vice-President of the Guangxi
Academy of Social Sciences, said that an agreement on goods and
services, which has already been signed, and an agreement on
investment expected later this year would only deepen the trade
relationship between China and ASEAN. Trade volume has grown
annually at a rate of approximately 20%, he said, reaching US$230
billion last year. This growth exceeds growth in trade between China
and the United States and also between China and Japan, he added.

5. (SBU) Cooperation between south China and some ASEAN countries has
already been strengthened under the CACECF. According to Professor
Li Xinguang, Deputy Director of the Southeast Asian Studies Center at
Guangxi University, a Sino-Vietnam Economic Circle is one of the
products of the agreement. The Chinese government signed on to this
Vietnamese proposal last year, leading to the development of two
"economic corridors:" a western corridor, or highway, between Kunming
and Hanoi, and an eastern corridor between Nanning and Hanoi. A
Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor has also been proposed.
According to Professor Gu Xiaosong, this corridor, originating in
Nanning and passing through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia,
would consist of 3,000 kilometers of public roads and railways to
facilitate trade. Although many of the roads and railways involved
already exist, he said, the plan is to eventually connect them.
6. (SBU) Construction projects are also underway to connect Guangxi's
Fangchenggang port with the national railway network to allow it to
handle petroleum and gas. According to one professor at the
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Sun Yat-sen University,
Guangxi's port is poised to serve as "the gateway of southwestern
China." He pointed out that, in the past, cargo from this area was
exported through Guangdong province, but the development of the
Fangchenggang port would substantially shorten the transportation
distance to Southeast Asia.
7. (SBU) Aside from these proposed projects, China currently has two

GUANGZHOU 00000504 002.2 OF 003


other major economic cooperation programs with Southeast Asia. One
is the Pan-Beibu Development Zone that covers south China, including
Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hunan, and Hubei in addition to Vietnam,
Laos, Burma, and Cambodia. The other is the Sub-Regional Cooperation
Program of the Mekong River that promotes exchanges between China's
southwestern provinces and Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos,
Cambodia, and Burma, according to Professor Yuan Ding at Sun Yat-sen
University.
---------------------------------------
Vietnam Trade and Investment Taking-Off
---------------------------------------
8. (SBU) Vietnam, in particular, has seen economic relations with
south China grow dramatically even in the face of the global economic
downturn. According to Tran Viet Thai of the Vietnamese Consulate in
Guangzhou, in the first four months of 2009, exports between
Guangdong Province and Vietnam totaled more than US$798 million, an
increase of 13.1% from 2008. Although trade in agricultural products
decreased 15%, exports of electrical products increased 26%, and
exports of hi-tech products more than doubled. Imports from Vietnam
totaled US$363.5 million, an increase of 43.4%. Investment is
growing as well. As of December 2008, Guangdong investment in
Vietnam totaled 40 projects, mostly related to infrastructure, worth
US$310 million, and Vietnamese investment in Guangdong totaled 6
projects worth more than US$3 million. According to Tran, Guangdong
Party Secretary Wang Yang visited Vietnam in September 2008 and
signed agreements on 22 projects worth US$1.57 billion.
--------------------------------
Cultural Ties Offer an Advantage
--------------------------------
9. (SBU) Many of our contacts underscored the presence of overseas
Chinese in Southeast Asia and other cultural ties as key factors in
the growing relationship. According to Zhuang Guotu, President of
the Nanyang Research Institute of Xiamen University, there are about
44 million overseas Chinese throughout the world, and 32 million, or
about 70%, are living in Southeast Asia. Shawn Sim, Trade Consul at
the Malaysian Consulate in Guangzhou, said that 30% of Malaysia's
population is Chinese, and 70% of Singaporeans are of Chinese
ancestry, according to Kenneth Teo, Trade Consul at the Consulate of
Singapore. As a result, for Southeast Asians to do business in
China, language often is not an issue. Moreover, the dialect of the
Zhuang minority in Guangxi shares similarities with Vietnamese, Lao,
and Thai, said Professor Gu Xiaosong, making it easy for all sides to
learn each other's language.
10. (SBU) Local educational institutions are taking steps to further
enhance these cultural advantages. The Guangxi Dongfang Foreign
Language College offers three-year language training in a variety of
Southeast Asian languages. According to Professor Liang Yihua, the
school opened in 2004 with an enrollment of 200 students. Expected
enrollment for the upcoming semester is a whopping 10,000 students.
The College has ties with universities in Thailand and Vietnam,
including student and teacher exchanges as well as cultural programs.

11. (SBU) Increased tourism between China and Southeast Asia has also
promoted trade. According to Professor Yuan Ding, ASEAN has been the
top choice for Guangdong tourists in recent years. Furthermore,
statistics from China's State Tourism Bureau indicate 5-10%
year-on-year growth in tourists from Malaysia, Singapore, the
Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. While several Southeast Asian
countries offer visa-on-arrival for Chinese tourists, ASEAN hopes to
eventually implement a no-visa tourism circle with China.
--------------------------------
Dealing with China in the Future
--------------------------------

12. (SBU) Southeast Asian Consulate representatives in Guangzhou also
raised some cautionary notes regarding the expansion of economic
relations between their countries and China. Most prominent, they
expressed concern about China's "infamous" food safety and sanitary
issues. They also called on China to stimulate its domestic demand
to help deal with the global financial crisis, expressing a desire to
serve that market.
13. (SBU) China as a competitor was another important concern. Sim
from the Malaysian Consulate said that Malaysia used to design
furniture for export but because "China copies well" and Malaysian
designers could not keep up, Malaysia is now the top supplier of raw
wood to China, and China is the number one import source of furniture

GUANGZHOU 00000504 003.2 OF 003


for Malaysia. Tran from the Vietnamese Consulate described the
"threat" of the Chinese economy: "China is just too big." Vietnam
will need to produce "better products and better services to
compete," he said.
GOLDBECK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN News: Vaccine Inequity Triggers ‘Huge Disconnect’ Between Countries

Although COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to decline globally for a second consecutive week, the UN health agency chief said on Monday that “a huge disconnect” is mounting between some highly vaccinated countries, which see the pandemic as largely resolved, ... More>>

Save The Children: Almost 60 Children Killed In Gaza In The Last Week Alone

Save the Children is calling for an immediate ceasefire by all parties, as 58 children[i] in Gaza and two children in southern Israel have been killed in the last week. More than a thousand people in Gaza, including 366 children[ii], have also been injured. ... More>>


IPPPR: The Independent Panel Calls For Urgent Reform Of Pandemic Prevention And Response Systems

Expert independent panel calls for urgent reform of pandemic prevention and response systems The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response is today calling on the global community to end the COVID-19 pandemic and adopt a series of bold and ... More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs

ILO Voices: A Future With Hope, Free From Bonded Labour

By Padma Kumari Tamata Formerly in bonded labour, Padma Kumari Tamata is now a farmer, and grows and sells her own vegetables in the Kanchanpur district of Nepal. My name is Padma and I come from Vashi, a small hamlet in Nepal’s far-west Kanchanpur district. ... More>>

UN: Economic Recovery Under Threat Amid Surging COVID Cases And Lagging Vaccination In Poorer Countries

New York, 11 May — While the global growth outlook has improved, led by robust rebound in China and the United States, surging COVID-19 infections and inadequate vaccination progress in many countries threaten a broad-based recovery of the world ... More>>

Study: Cut Methane Emissions To Avert Global Temperature Rise

6 May 2021 Methane emissions caused by human activity can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, thus helping to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a UN-backed ... More>>