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Cablegate: China Manned Space Engineering Office (Cmse) Welcomes

VZCZCXRO6144
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #3336/01 3490741
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 150741Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7231
INFO RUEANAT/NASA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC 0772
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDC/NOAA NMSF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECU WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 9459
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1866
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 5004
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4673
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0031
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3655
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 9798
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0144
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 1428
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1427
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 003336

STATE FOR OES/SAT, EAP/CM, ISN/MDSP AND T
NASA/OFFICE OF EXTERNAL RELATIONS FOR A/A O'BRIEN
TOKYO FOR NASA ATTACHE TILMAN
PARIS FOR NASA ATTACHE BARRY
MOSCOW FOR NASA ATTACHE BUZZARD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TSPA TSPL TPHY PREL CH
SUBJECT: CHINA MANNED SPACE ENGINEERING OFFICE (CMSE) WELCOMES
HIGH-LEVEL BILATERAL DISCUSSIONS ON MANNED SPACE

BACKGROUND
----------

1. (SBU) On December 8, ESTH Offs met with representatives from
China's Man Space Engineering Office (CMSE) to discuss next steps
for initiating bilateral discussions on cooperation in human
spaceflight, as stipulated in the Joint Statement released during
President Obama's visit to Beijing in mid-November. NASA
Administrator Charles Bolden has tentative plans to make his first
trip to China in April 2010, and NASA Assistant Administrator for
External Relations Michael O'Brien will visit Beijing in early
February 2010 to prepare for Bolden's trip. The meeting on December
8 was the first time Embassy officers have had an opportunity to
interact directly with CMSE. (NOTE: While CMSE may be a
non-military entity, it is well-known that ultimate authority for
China's manned space program resides with the People's Liberation
Army's General Armaments Department (PLA/GAD). END NOTE)

AN EVOLVING RELATIONSHIP ON MANNED SPACE
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Mr. GUO Guanchen, CMSE's Deputy Director for International
Cooperation (Deputy Director General-level) led off the meeting by
acknowledging that the space relationship between China and the
United States had been a rocky one. Guo attributed this to the U.S.
side but noted that in his view, the tenor of the relationship began
to change in March 2009, when the Space Foundation--a U.S.-based
organization dedicated to expanding space science and
exploration--awarded the Foundation's prestigious annual award for
achievements in space exploration to a group of Chinese manned space
leaders and astronauts. (NOTE: Embassy Beijing helped expedite
visas to the United States for this delegation so that they could
make the awards ceremony in time, assistance which CMSE apparently
still remembers positively. END NOTE) According to Guo, following
their visit to the United States, CMSE hosted the Space Foundation
for a reciprocal visit to China. CMSE showed the delegation, which
also included journalists from leading industry magazines "Aviation
Week" and "Space Technology," all of the major manned space
facilities in Beijing's "Space City," as well as the
highly-restricted Jiuquan Manned Space Launch Center in Gansu
Province.

4. (SBU) Guo further stated that he was pleased to see a "door
opened" with respect to manned space and stated that CMSE would be
open to a broad dialogue "about anything." In fact, CMSE already
has been studying ways in which China and the United States can
begin a dialogue on manned space, and said that CMSE would propose
forming a small working group with NASA that can map out how a
dialogue should proceed.

5. (SBU) In response to ESTH Counselor's query about the possibility
of NASA Administrator Bolden visiting the Jiuquan Manned Space
Launch Center during his April 2010 visit, Guo expressed some
reluctance, citing that it would take three days just to reach the
site from Beijing, and remained noncommittal. Nevertheless, he did
boast of the "great visit" that the Space Foundation had taken to
Jiuquan earlier in the year. Guo assured ESTH Counselor that
previous difficulties associated with high-level NASA officials
visiting the Jiuquan site were due to poor timing, but now that
"proper groundwork" has been laid by the two presidents, China's
space establishment may be more receptive to this latest request to
visit Jiuquan.

TWO TRACKS AND TWO HOSTS: CMSE AND CNSA
----------------------------------------

BEIJING 00003336 002 OF 002

6. (SBU) With respect to who should "host" Administrator Bolden in
April, Guo suggested that both CMSE and the China National Space
Administration (CNSA) should serve as "co-hosts;" however, he made
clear that CMSE does not want any overlap or mixing of the two
schedules for the "manned" and "unmanned" tracks. (NOTE: Previous
NASA interactions with Chinese space authorities have revolved
around contacts with CNSA, the nominal lead for China's civilian
space program, which could partially explain why previous requests
to visit the Jiuquan facility were refused. END NOTE) Guo also
indicated that CMSE meetings and site visits should take place
first, suggesting that the Administrator spend the first three to
four days with CMSE on manned space issues, and then conclude the
trip with two days on "unmanned" issues, with CNSA as host. He also
noted that CMSE and CNSA would issue separate letters inviting
Administrator Bolden to China.

NEXT STEPS: DIPLOMATIC NOTES AND PREPATORY TALKS
--------------------------------------------- ----

7. (SBU) Guo further suggested that the best next step would be for
Embassy Beijing to send separate diplomatic notes to CMSE and CNSA
so that internal Chinese government inquiries and approvals can
begin. In addition to specific details associated with
Administrator Bolden's delegation, CMSE emphasized that the
diplomatic notes should specifically welcome a reciprocal visit to
the United States by an appropriate Chinese counterpart, and seemed
interested in the suggested possibility of Chinese space officials
attending a scheduled NASA shuttle launch in July 2010.

8. (SBU) CMSE agreed that a first meeting with NASA Assistant
Administrator for External Relations Michael O'Brien face-to-face
during his next trip to Beijing (currently February 1-3, 2010) would
be an ideal way to lay the groundwork for the Administrator's April
visit.

MEETING PARTICIPANTS
--------------------

9. (SBU) The following CMSE officials participated in the meeting
with ESTH Offs:

--Mr. GUO Guanchen, Deputy Director of International Cooperation
(DDG-level), China Manned Space Exploration Office (CMSE)

--Mr. LIU Shujun, Deputy Director of the Planning Bureau
(DDG-level), CMSE

-Mr. NIU Aimin, Senior Engineer, Planning Bureau, CMSE

--Mr. ZONG Ye, Program Officer, Planning Bureau, CMSE (Zong will be
Post's primary working-level contact during this process.)
--Mr. FENG Wei, Program Officer, Planning Bureau, CMSE

9. (SBU) COMMENT: NASA currently is reviewing draft text of the
diplomatic notes. In order to ensure full coordination on this
effort, CMSE contacts will have a chance to offer additional input
on the exact wording of these diplomatic notes before they are sent
formally to recipients. Post anticipates that these diplomatic
notes will go out in final in early- to mid- January. During this
discussion with CMSE, interlocutors were not entirely dismissive of
CNSA; however, they did make it clear that they consider CMSE to be
at the top of the space hierarchy in China. END COMMENT.

GOLDBERG

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