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Cablegate: Charm Inoffensive: China's State Councilor Dai Reassures

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 261036Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4370
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS COLL
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBD/AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 0406
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8971
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0025
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 2643
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 3371
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH 0542
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 0465
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 6694
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE 0371
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6026
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 JAKARTA 000115

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/RSP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS
BANGKOK FOR RDM/A

E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: PREL ETRD PINR PHSA ASEAN XC CH ID
SUBJECT: CHARM INOFFENSIVE: CHINA'S STATE COUNCILOR DAI REASSURES
ASEAN

1. (SBU) Summary: During the first-ever visit to the ASEAN
Secretariat (ASEC) by a high-ranking Chinese official, Chinese State
Councilor Dai Bingguo delivered a message of Asian brotherhood and
inclusiveness to a packed house of some 200 diplomats, ASEC staff,
and representatives of Jakarta's Chinese business elite. Against
the backdrop of recent skepticism about the much-heralded
China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), Dai's visit to Indonesia
and hastily-arranged appearance at ASEAN were intended to reassure
Southeast Asian governments that China would not become a regional
colonial power and that it would seek cooperation on the basis of
equality and mutual-benefit. Dai contrasted China's historical
relations with Southeast Asia favorably against the region's more
recent experience with colonialism. Dai downplayed the notion of
China's rivalry with the United States, and making his trademark
appeal to China's relative poverty, emphasized that China had
neither the intention nor ability to eject the United States from
Asia. On regional architecture, Dai advised sticking to existing
institutions and gave a nod to ASEAN centrality, which is a core
principle for Indonesian FM Natalegawa and the GOI. Dai referred to
the South China Sea in all but name, and indicated that China's
territorial disputes with some ASEAN members would be left for
future generations to resolve. Dai announced that China would
establish an ASEAN Affairs section in its Embassy to Indonesia. End
summary.

---- ---- ---- ----
DON'T FORGET ASEAN
---- ---- ---- ----

2. (SBU) Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo opened his January 22
address at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta with characteristic
humility, noting that his ASEAN appearance was arranged one week
prior, and that he was not sure what to talk about. (Dai's trip to
Jakarta was likely intended to build momentum for and forestall
mounting skepticism about CAFTA among ASEAN countries and in
Indonesia specifically.) His introduction meandered between
alternating references to Indonesia and ASEAN, during which he
highlighted the changes that had taken place in the region in the
last ten years. Dai said that a zero-sum, Cold War mentality would
be harmful to the region and suggested the need for new interaction
based on the principle of "harmonious coexistence."

---- ---- ----
GOOD NEIGHBOR
---- ---- ----

3. (U) In contrast to China's reforms, increased openness, and
economic advancements of the past decade, Dai noted that China was
still a developing country with a low per capita GDP and enormous
institutional challenges. Pictures of Beijing and Shanghai did not
provide an accurate representation of the rest of the country,
according to Dai.

4. (SBU) Dai emphasized that China, in spite of its size, is not to
be feared, and urged the audience not to believe those who say China
has developed or is on a par with the United States, which Dai
predicted would take "several generations." In contrast to "some
big countries that have a culture of expansion and even aggression,"
Dai claimed that China had not sought hegemony even when it was "the
most powerful country in the world with 30% of global GNP." Dai
alluded to the 15th Century voyages of Chinese Muslim Admiral Zheng
He, who "brought tea and silk instead of colonialism," and who was
still fondly remembered in Southeast Asia as an emblem of Chinese
friendship toward its southern neighbors. (Dai's extended allusion
to Zheng He was certainly meant to broad-brush China's historical
interaction as exclusively economic and beneficial, in contrast to
Western and Japanese colonialism.)

5. (U) Dai provided an iteration of China's current foreign policy
principles, saying that China believes its future and destiny are
linked with rest of the world. China believes in equality among all
nations, big and small, said Dai, and China supports each country's

JAKARTA 00000115 002 OF 003


right to choose its own development path. Referring to China's
troubled relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors during the
Mao-era, Dai promised that China would never again seek to export
revolutionary views.

---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
NOT SEEKING RIVALRY WITH U.S.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----

6. (U) China would neither compete for nor seek "joint hegemony" in
Southeast Asia, said Dai. He noted that the United States was an
important partner both for ASEAN countries and China, and repeated
twice for emphasis that China had neither the intention nor ability
to "squeeze" the United States out of Asia. Instead, said Dai, China
wants to pursue mutually-beneficial relations and harmonious
coexistence in the region. Dai observed that the United States had
become "more deeply involved" in Asia, and warned that those who
took a cautious, "wait-and-see" approach to China could miss out on
important opportunities.

---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
CONCRETE COOPERATION AND MORE TO COME
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----

7. (U) Noting that China was the first large country to sign ASEAN's
Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and to pursue a strategic
partnership with ASEAN, Dai highlighted cooperative, China-funded
projects in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. He said that
two-way tourism was increasing and that currently 6,000 Chinese
teachers at 35 Confucius Institutes were teaching Chinese to up to
50,000 citizens of ASEAN countries.

8. (U) Dai praised the signing of the China-ASEAN Free Trade
Agreement (CAFTA), and responded to recent grumbling in ASEAN media
by saying that it was "natural" that all parties would have to make
adjustments, and that such adjustments would be "fundamentally
conducive" to improving competitiveness. China is committed to
maintaining close consultations with all ASEAN countries in order to
nurture the agreement, said Dai.

---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- -----
REGIONAL SECURITY AND ONE UNMENTIONABLE
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- -----

9. (SBU) Dai expressed China's support for the "long-term goal" of
an East Asian community, and noted that substantial progress toward
regional integration in such areas as trade, finance (citing the
Chiang Mai Initiative) and disaster relief should be credited to
ASEAN's leading role. Dai said China believed that regional
architecture should be based on existing, mutually-reinforcing
mechanisms, and that regional architecture should be open to states
outside of East Asia and inclusive. "East Asia cannot develop in
isolation from the world," said Dai. (Dai's remarks on regional
architecture were likely made partly in response to the Secretary's
East-West Center speech, and were meant to reassure ASEAN of its
centrality. It is unclear if Dai's references to East Asian
community were intended in the general sense, as distinct from the
Japanese-proposed "East Asian Community." If he was referring to
the Japanese idea, his emphasis on the "long-term" nature of the
aspiration would imply lukewarm Chinese support.)

10. (SBU) Without mentioning South China Sea marine boundary
disputes by name, Dai posited that China and ASEAN countries have
far more common interests than differences, and that "some issues"
with "some ASEAN countries" should not be complicated or aggravated.
"Even if our generation cannot solve them, we should have faith
that our future generations will be able to solve them," Dai
advised. (Dai's comments appeared to signal that China has no
interest in negotiating on the issue anytime soon.)

---- ---- ---- ---- -----
CHINESE MISSION TO ASEAN?

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---- ---- ---- ---- -----

11. (U) Dai said that China would give "positive consideration" to
opening an ASEAN Mission, and would start by setting up an ASEAN
Affairs Section in its Embassy to Indonesia.

12. (U) This message is from the Resident Representative of the
Ambassador for ASEAN Affairs.

HUME

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