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Cablegate: Prc Proposes U.S.-Prc Mekong Dialogue

VZCZCXRO4496
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHHM RUEHNH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #2911 2931036
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201036Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6494
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI IMMEDIATE 0127

UNCLAS BEIJING 002911

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/CM AND EAP/MLS - MARC FORINO, ADAM WEST

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EAID SENV ECON CH JA XC CN VM LA BM CB
SUBJECT: PRC PROPOSES U.S.-PRC MEKONG DIALOGUE

REF: STATE 94920 (NOTAL)

1. (SBU) Summary: In recognition of increased U.S.
engagement with Lower Mekong countries and China's ongoing
development assistance to the region, China proposes an
annual Mekong Dialogue within the Strategic and Economic
Dialogue framework to coordinate development priorities and
projects. The MFA suggests Deputy Director General-level
talks, similar to the PRC-Japan Mekong Dialogue, but is
flexible on the rank of interlocutors. Our MFA interlocutor
confirmed that the PRC works through the Asia Development
Bank's Greater Mekong Sub-Region Initiative and the Mekong
River Commission to improve trade flows and raise living
standards in the region. End summary.

CHINESE ENGAGEMENT IN LOWER MEKONG SUB-REGION
---------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) China had a long and tangible record of cooperation
with the Lower Mekong sub-region, MFA International
Organizations and Conferences Department 4th Division
Director Huang Yiyang told PolOff October 20. Huang
explained that China favored initiating infrastructure
projects that would improve connectivity, ease the flow of
trade, and enhance living standards in the sub-region.

3. (SBU) Huang said that China channeled its cooperation with
the sub-region through two primary organizations, the Asian
Development Bank (ADB)-organized Greater Mekong Sub-Region
(GMS) Initiative and the Mekong River Commission. The GMS --
comprising Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and the
PRC -- was the most mature sub-regional organization,
according to Huang, and also the organization on which China
placed the greatest emphasis. China's contributions to the
GMS focused on nine priority areas: transportation, energy,
telecommunications, environmental protection, agriculture,
human resource development, trade facilitation, investment,
and tourism promotion.

4. (SBU) China also participated in the Mekong River
Commission (MRC) -- composed of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and
Vietnam, with the PRC and Burma as dialogue partners -- which
focused on joint management of shared water resources, Huang
said. The PRC sought to improve resource management of the
Mekong River through field visits to Chinese hydropower sites
and provision of upstream hydrological information to MRC
partners.

PRC-JAPAN MEKONG DIALOGUE AS A MODEL
------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Japan in 2008 had proposed to the PRC an annual
policy dialogue at the Deputy Director General-level to
identify areas for coordination of development projects in
the Lower Mekong sub-region, according to Huang. China and
Japan had shared development priorities in the sub-region at
the first PRC-Japan Mekong Dialogue, held in May 2008. At
the second Dialogue, held in June, China had proposed areas
for PRC-Japan development cooperation in the sub-region, and
plans were under way for the third Dialogue, Huang said.

PRC PROPOSAL FOR U.S.-PRC MEKONG DIALOGUE
-----------------------------------------

6. (SBU) In recognition of the increasing U.S. role in the
lower Mekong sub-region, Huang said, China was seeking an
annual bilateral dialogue with the United States, similar to
the PRC-Japan Mekong Dialogue, to coordinate U.S. and PRC
development priorities and projects. Huang emphasized that
China welcomed the recent increase in U.S. engagement with
the Lower Mekong sub-region, stating that such engagement
would advance Chinese and U.S. shared interests in the
sub-region's development. Huang proposed an annual bilateral
dialogue at the Deputy Director General level -- either on
the margins of existing multilateral fora or as a stand-alone
meeting -- and within the existing Strategic and Economic
Dialogue framework. China was flexible on the frequency of
meetings and rank of interlocutors, Huang said.
HUNTSMAN

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