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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04LILONGWE415
2004-05-18 12:15:00
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

TAIWAN FRETS OVER POST-ELECTION TIES TO MALAWI

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  KHIV  PINR  TW  CM  MI 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LILONGWE 000415 

SIPDIS

NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/18/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV KHIV PINR TW CM MI
SUBJECT: TAIWAN FRETS OVER POST-ELECTION TIES TO MALAWI

REF: A. 02 LILONGWE 1031


B. LILONGWE 286

C. STATE 48160

D. STATE 55006

Classified By: Pol/Econoff Marc Dillard for reasons 1.5 b/d.

Summary
-------


1. (C/NF) Taiwanese diplomats are worried that an
opposition win in Malawi's upcoming presidential and
parliamentary elections could result in Malawi breaking
diplomatic relations, Second Secretary C.W. "Albert" Chang
told Pol/Econoff. Local Taiwanese officials avoid the
opposition and channel some aid through mechanisms closely
aligned with the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF),
leaving many in opposition to perceive the Taiwanese as
pro-UDF rather than as development partners with the country
of Malawi. Noting some recent PRC activity in Malawi, Chang
made a pitch for closer local aid cooperation with the USG,
so that the GOM might perceive cutting ties with Taiwan as
threatening USG programs as well. While we agree that the
Taiwanese are seen as pro-UDF, we note that Taiwan managed a
similar transition ten years ago, when it dropped its support
of the dictator Hastings Banda and aligned with current
President Muluzi. The key to that transition (as will likely
be the case again) was the cash Taiwan produced for the new
government. End summary.

Taiwan Fears Change After Malawi's Election


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




2. (C/NF) Diplomats at the Taiwanese Embassy in Malawi are
worried that a change in Malawi's government after May 20
presidential and parliamentary elections could affect
Malawi's diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, Second Secretary
C.W. "Albert" Chang told Pol/Econoff on May 5. The polls,
which will be Malawi's third democratic elections, will bring
with them a new president, as President Muluzi is
constitutionally ineligible to run for a third term.



3. (C/NF) Chang had asked for the meeting ostensibly to
discuss election prospects, because, he explained, Taiwanese
diplomats have virtually no contact with opposition parties.
He stated that their practice of avoiding the opposition was
not a policy, but described it as "well understood" that
officials should not meet with those outside the government.
President Muluzi, he added, "has pawns everywhere," including
National Intelligence Bureau officers and other "watchers."
"He would know if Taiwan met with the opposition, and he
might cut ties." (Note: Chang later stated that the
Taiwanese Ambassador had frozen out a confidante, former
Agriculture Minister Aleke Banda, when Banda defected from
the ruling United Democratic Front.)



4. (C/NF) Because of Taiwan's contact practices, Chang told
Pol/Econoff that many in the opposition associate Taiwan with
the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) and would be
inclined to court the PRC. (Note: Taiwan's aid practices,
which have included facilitating a Taiwanese NGO's support
for a trust run by the first lady, as well as
behind-the-scenes payments per ref A, re-inforce opposition
perceptions of Taiwan supporting the UDF rather than Malawi.)

Suspicions of PRC Activity in Malawi


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




5. (C/NF) Unsurprisingly, Chang stated that the Taiwanese
keep a close watch on suspected PRC activity in Malawi. Over
the course of the conversation, he noted the following:

--A PRC company in the commercial capital Blantyre is
constructing an office building on contract for the GOM.
Chang stated that the Taiwanese Embassy suspects that
undercover PRC officials have been placed among the company's
management. He stated that the Taiwanese had uncovered a
similar arrangement with a PRC Foreign Affairs implant in a
company "in Nigeria or somewhere else in the West African
region" two years ago.

--Current Minister of Housing K. Phumisa attended a
conference in Beijing between one and two years ago (likely
in previous incarnations as Minister of Information or
Minister of Transportation). How, Chang asked rhetorically,
did he get invited?

--A PRC television crew recently visited Malawi and toured
the country extensively while making a documentary. Chang
stated that local PRC representation would have been needed
to set up such a tour.



6. (C/NF) In possible connection to ref D request, Chang
gently probed whether the USG had taken stock of PRC
activities in Malawi and asked whether the USG had considered
how changes in African recognition of Taiwan could affect
Taiwan-PRC and US-Taiwan relations.

Pitch for Closer Local US-Taiwan Cooperation


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




7. (C/NF) Chang closed the meeting with a pitch for linking
local USG and Taiwanese aid programs. Such a link, he
explained, would benefit Taiwan "strategically," because the
GOM would see severing ties with Taiwan as potentially
threatening to USG programs as well.

Comment


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




8. (C/NF) We wonder if Chang's reasoning for USG-Taiwanese
aid cooperation is partly behind Taiwan's recent fervent
attempts to link its local HIV/AIDS programs with CDC efforts
(refs B and C). As for Taiwanese fears about its official
ties with Malawi, Taiwan managed a similar transition ten
years ago from the thirty-year dictatorship of Hastings Banda
to President Muluzi's UDF. Malawi has a long history of
selling diplomatic recognition to those willing to pay, and a
successful transition would probably only be a matter of
arranging for a large enough suitcase of cash.

DOUGHERTY