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Cablegate: China/Food Security: Still Wary of Active

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O 300858Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6642
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0091
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RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 002999

SENSITIVE
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STATE PASS USTR
USTR FOR STRATFORD/MAIN
NSC FOR JIM LOI
STATE FOR EEB/TPP/MTAA/ABT ARYAN
STATE FOR C MPLOWDEN
STATE FOR IO RHAGEN AND JTUMINARO
USDA/OSEC FOR MMICHENER
USDA/FAS FOR OGA/HOUSE
FAS FOR OCRA/RADLER/SHEPPARD
FAS FOR OFSO/WAINIO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD EFIN EAGR EAID PREL CH
SUBJECT: CHINA/FOOD SECURITY: STILL WARY OF ACTIVE
AFSI SUPPORT IN LEAD-UP TO ROME FAO SUMMIT

REF: A. SECSTATE 107298; B. Beijing 1727; C. Beijing
2744

1. (SBU) Summary: China continues to be
unenthusiastic about actively supporting the
L'Aquilla Food Security Initiative (AFSI), which it
sees as a developed country initiative requiring
developed country resources. China would like to
know more about how the U.S. plans to present AFSI
principles in negotiations over declaration language
for the November 16-18 Food Security Summit in Rome,
and is also looking for concrete indications at the
Summit that the AFSI donor pledge will materialize.
Currently, Chinese interlocutors indicate that the
initiative fails to address China's own food
security concerns or acknowledge its bilateral food
assistance. This cable provides information in
response to Ref A. End Summary.

Message Delivered: We Want You On Board
----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The Ambassador on October 20 delivered to
Vice Foreign Minister (VFM) He Yafei the Secretary's
letter (ref A) urging support for endorsing
L'Aquilla Food Security Initiative (AFSI) principles
at the November 16-18 World Food Security Summit
hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) in Rome ("the Rome Summit"). VFM He told the
Ambassador that he understands the importance the
Secretary places on the issue. Post also provided a
copy of the letter to the Ministry of Agriculture.

China, The Doubting L'Aquilla Signatory
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) In a follow-up meeting on October 29, Lu
Mei, Deputy Director in Division 2 of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Department of International
Organizations and Conferences, told Econoff that
China is still studying the proposal and will
respond formally in due time, which may be just
before or at the November 16-18 World Food Security
Summit hosted by the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) in Rome.

4. (SBU) Noting that MFA had just received a revised
draft of the Rome Summit declaration from the FAO
secretariat, Lu asked when and how the U.S. plans to
introduce AFSI principles in negotiations over
declaration language. She commented that if the
principles are not included in the Summit
declaration, support will not be formalized. Lu
also asked about U.S. representation at the Summit,
and said China's representation will be "quite high"
-- above the Ministerial level.

Goals for Rome: China Looking Out For "The South"
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (SBU) Explicitly aligning China with other
developing countries, Lu said this block of
countries has problems with some of the principles
in the L'Aquilla Food Security Initiative (AFSI) and
the proposal accompanying the Secretary's letter.
(Note: China endorsed the AFSI at the G8 Summit and
sent their UN Ambassador to the Secretary's
September Partnering for Food Security event in New
York. End Note.) Lu cited as an example the
proposal to mention the Accra Agenda for Action
(AAA), noting that the AAA is part of the Paris
Declaration, about which many developing countries
have concerns. Lu said China is also not sure how
the AAA will apply to the agriculture field, and is

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studying this issue. China is also studying whether
it can accept language in the newest draft of the
Summit declaration on eliminating constraints on
exports of food for humanitarian assistance, since
food exports are a sensitive issue for China,
according to Lu.

6. (SBU) Lu also said developing countries are very
keen to see developed countries delivering on the
AFSI USD20 billion pledge. Lu said it will be hard
for countries to support the other AFSI principles
if there is doubt about follow-through on this
promise, and it would be helpful and important for
developed countries to show concrete indications at
the Rome Summit that they will deliver. Lu
emphasized that the USD20 billion goal is a
developed country (as opposed to developing country)
obligation.

7. (SBU) Lu said that of the two main themes laid
out in the FAO secretariat's letter to participants,
China is focusing on the theme of governance of
global food and agriculture trade and institutions.
Lu opined that the other Summit theme, financing for
agriculture development, "for now at least seems to
always be there," apparently indicating that China
itself will not focus on pressing donors to meet
pledge commitments. After the global financial
crisis, fair trade and representation in decision-
making for developing countries were key, according
to Lu. She explained further that China hopes the
Summit will look at governance issues in a
comprehensive way that includes broader issues such
as trade and the Doha Round, commodity markets, the
impacts of climate change, and climate change
financing. (Comment: This comment reflects efforts
by China and other developing countries to raise a
range of issues at the Rome Summit that they think
are not being addressed satisfactorily elsewhere.
End Comment.)

Comment: Gradually Bringing China into the Fold
--------------------------------------------- --

8. (SBU) China continues to show little interest in
actively participating in many aspects of AFSI (Ref
B) and is wary of stepping up as a high profile
donor. Beijing policy makers are aware that China's
sheer size means it plays an important role in
global food security, but at this point they are
preoccupied with their own domestic food security
concerns. These concerns include skepticism about
whether global markets can provide food security for
a rapidly-growing China that is in turn influencing
those markets, as well as the impact of commodity
speculation on food prices (Ref B). However, China
sees the Rome Summit, not AFSI, as a forum where
these issues can be addressed.

9. (SBU) We may be able to overcome China's
reticence regarding AFSI by showing that core
Chinese concerns that the global economic system
threatens China's food security can be addressed
under AFSI. We can also emphasize that China's
preferred method of using bilateral assistance can
occur under a donor coordination framework that is
both controlled by developing countries and
recognized under AFSI (e.g., the Comprehensive
African Agriculture Development Initiative (CAADP).
See Ref C). Messaging can also acknowledge China's
efforts to ensure its domestic food security as an
important element impacting global food security,
and note that these efforts make China uniquely
qualified to play a key international role.

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HUNTSMAN

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