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04THEHAGUE1846 2004-07-22 14:30:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
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1. (C) Summary: Post coordinated a July 21 briefing for
Dutch officials on U.S. concerns regarding a possible lift of
the EU China arms embargo. MFA hosted the briefing which was
also attended by GONL officials from MOD, Ministry of
Economic Affairs and the PM's office. DRL Senior Advisor
Susan O'Sullivan and EAP Analyst John Culver outlined in
detail the nature of USG concerns related to Chinese human
rights practices and its recent military buildup. Dutch
interlocutors appreciated the broad scope of the briefing,
describing the Chinese military buildup as disturbing.
They also acknowledged that U.S. and Japanese invocation of
their strategic interests was relevant to EU deliberations.
The Dutch side also repeated previous arguments in favor of
replacing the embargo with an enhanced EU Code of Conduct
on arms transfers and asserted that China's current human
rights practices could be viewed in a glass half empty/half
full context. End Summary.

2. (C) MFA Security Policy Bureau Director Maurits Jochems
hosted the July 21 briefing for Dutch officials by DRL Senior
Advisor Susan O'Sullivan and EAP Analyst John Culver.
Present were MFA Amb. for Human Rights Piet de Klerk,
representatives from MFA's Security Policy, Political Affairs
and Asian Affairs offices as well as from Dutch military
intelligence, Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Prime
Minister's office. O'Sullivan and Culver provided
comprehensive overviews of U.S. human rights and regional
stability concerns regarding China followed by a question and
answer session.

3. (C) Jochems opened the question period by describing the
report on China's military buildup as disturbing. He noted
that the Japanese had also raised concerns about lifting the
embargo with the GONL. He observed that China's rapid
economic development provided a basis for rapid military
modernization irrespective of EU action, and asked whether
maintaining the embargo was relevant given Chinese progress
in spite of it. Jochems said the GONL was looking at options
to enhance the EU's Code of Conduct on arms transfers, e.g.,
a Code of Conduct Plus or Double Plus which would also
capture dual use items. Finally, he suggested that the large
presence of western, including Dutch, technology and
manufacturing companies in China was already a major factor
in China's buildup.

4. (C) Jaap Werner, Director of MFA's Political Affairs
Bureau (PolDir Siblesz's office), acknowledged that it was
relevant to EU decision-making if the U.S. and the Japanese
invoked their strategic interest in this matter. On the
other hand, Werner suggested, China's military buildup might
be understood in the context of its territorial problem or
perhaps as a world power asserting itself. He asked
pointedly why the U.S. preferred the embargo to a stronger,
more effective Code of Conduct. Werner also argued that it
was important to take into account positive trends in
China's human rights and security practices, and suggested
that an increased EU-China relationship could provide
enhanced opportunities for engaging on issues of concern.

5. (C) Margarita Bot, MFA Deputy Director for Asian Affairs,
claimed China's human rights practices could be viewed in
terms of a glass half empty or half full. She also
suggested that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan might be a factor in
China's rapid military buildup. The three Dutch military
intelligence officers present disputed none of the
conclusions and expressed interest in hearing more about
China's military buildup.

6. (C) While acknowledging some progress by China on human
rights during the last fifteen years, the U.S. side stressed
the consistent lack of tolerance by the PRC of anyone
speaking out in criticism of the regime, noting the
significant numbers of detainees. We also observed that the
Chinese would treat an embargo lift as a significant
propaganda victory. Noting Taiwan's decreased defense budget
the U.S. side flatly rejected the suggestion that China's
buildup was tied to increased U.S. arms sales.

7. (C) Comment: The senior officials present (especially
Jochems, Werner, and Bot) generally stuck to previously
expressed comments (ref B) in their interventions, and did
not challenge the validity of the information presented by
the briefers. As noted in previous reporting, the strong
Dutch desire for a successful EU-China Summit on their watch
as EU President (refs A-C) has offset to a large degree
traditional Dutch concerns regarding human rights and
regional stability. This timely briefing served as a useful
reminder that these concerns remain valid, and that the U.S.
will not allow them to be swept under the rug for the sake of
EU unity. Post very much appreciates the efforts of Susan
O'Sullivan and John Culver in presenting such a detailed and
thorough briefing on very short notice. End Comment.