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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07PARAMARIBO165 2007-04-03 18:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Paramaribo
Cable title:  

CHINESE HIGH OFFICIAL VISITS: POPULAR WITH

Tags:   PREL PGOV NS CH ECON 
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VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPO #0165/01 0931806
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 031806Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9255
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0122
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1605
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 0039
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0086
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 0029
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0010
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L PARAMARIBO 000165 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

WHA/CAR FOR MATTHEW BUFFINGTON AND LAURA LUFTIG; INR FOR
ROBERT CARHART

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV NS CH ECON
SUBJECT: CHINESE HIGH OFFICIAL VISITS: POPULAR WITH
PRESIDENT AND HIS COALITION

REF: A. 2006 SECSTATE 70035

B. 2007 QUITO 719

C. 2006 PARAMARIBO 698

D. 2006 PARAMARIBO 305

E. 2006 PARAMARIBO 683

F. 2007 PARAMARIBO 133



1. (C) SUMMARY: Li Changchun, a member of the Standing
Committee of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist
Party Central Committee, arrived in Suriname on March 27 for
a two-day visit. In a striking display of warm relations by
the government of Suriname (GOS), Li was met by Vice
President Ramdien Sardjoe, received by President Ronald
Venetiaan and many of Suriname,s Ministers, and feted at a
GOS-sponsored dinner. During the visit, Suriname and China
signed a grant agreement for U.S. $2.4 million in unspecified
development aid. Venetiaan and his party, the National Party
of Suriname (NPS), have repeatedly stated their support for a
"one China policy," as have other coalition parties, and
China may be using Suriname as its point-man to build further
consensus in the Caribbean on this issue. The GOS edges ever
closer to the Chinese, though public distrust and disapproval
is common. END SUMMARY



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


Warm Relations


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





2. (C) After the signing ceremony Li, the highest level
Chinese official ever to visit Suriname, expressed
satisfaction with the growth of bilateral ties, and called
for the expansion of those ties based on the principles of
equality, mutual support, and a common future. President
Venetiaan stated that the long-standing relationship between
the two countries has been filled with encouraging
developments, and he reiterated his government's adherence to
the "one China policy," which he and his allies have been
trotting out at every opportunity. As recently as the
Chinese New Year in February, Venetiaan accompanied Chinese
Ambassador Su Ge about town, preaching warm relations and
touting the one-China policy. The Head of the Americas
Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Terence Craig,
raised the one-China policy with PolOff in March while
talking about an unrelated matter, saying that Suriname is
frustrated by unnamed "eastern Caribbean states" who are
blocking Caricom from adopting a coherent China policy.
Meanwhile, the Suriname-Taiwan Friendship Foundation
published large ads in the paper on the day of Li's visit,
advertising thirteen showings across five television channels
of the film, "Taiwan, Where Mountains Meet the Sea."



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


Money Talks--and the GOS listens


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





3. (C) Suriname has profited often from China,s
generosity. In December 2005 Suriname received a grant of
U.S. $2.5 million for technical assistance; China also gave
Suriname a new Ministry building. The headquarters of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, completed in 2006, was financed
by a U.S. $5 million grant and built by Chinese laborers.
Moreover, in January 2006 China and the GOS signed an
agreement to finance the construction of 200 low-cost houses.
This project was estimated to cost approximately a half
million dollars, and will be funded by a combination of
outright grants and loans with favorable terms. The Chinese
company Dalian is very active in road building in Suriname.
Some Ministries reportedly prefer to work with the Chinese in
order to receive what is perceived as complications-free
cash-flow, while others worry about the long-term effects
(and political liabilities) of such hasty deals (ref C). The
Chinese, meanwhile, have their eyes on Suriname,s rich
natural resources, particularly wood (ref D).



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


Growing Chinese Export: Labor


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





4. (C) The links with China have several downsides, one of
which involves immigration. Unofficial sources report that
large groups of Chinese enter the country via the Western

border with Guyana and receive drivers, licenses, official
documents, and employment upon arrival through semi-legal or
illegal channels. Unable to repay their debts, they are
defacto indentured labor, bonded to the organizations that
brought them to Suriname. Suriname is a transit country for
trafficking in persons (ref E). Meanwhile, the number of
Chinese-run convenience stores and restaurants has visibly
increased, leading to public distrust and press vitriol (Post
will elaborate in septel).



5. (C) COMMENT: Official Surinamese gushing over Li and
his several-dozen-strong entourage was unusually solicitous;
the GOS does not make a habit of springing for dinner for
foreign politicians; GOS hospitality, even for VIP visitors
is usually low key, and the GOS voice on international issues
is usually muted to say the least (ref F). However, the
central pillar of Surinamese foreign policy may well be
opportunism, and the generous Chinese continue to present a
splendid funding opportunity to Venetiaan and his beleaguered
coalition. If Venetiaan and his NPS sometime seem
sycophantic in their attentions to China, they are not the
only ones. National Assembly President Paul Somohardjo's
recent trip to China reflects the strong ethnic-Chinese
presence in his predominantly ethnic-Javanese party, Pertjaja
Luhur. Cuba-friendly Minister of Health Celsius Waterberg of
the predominantly ethnic-Maroon (descendants of escaped
slaves) party "A-Combination" was also a recent guest in
China. It is likely no coincidence that his supporters hail
mostly from the resource-rich interior. Waterberg is now
talking about Chinese assistance for building hospitals in
the interior.



6. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED: Meanwhile many Surinamers,
including businessmen, media, and longtime residents,
continue to bristle at the dramatic influx of Chinese
immigrants and laborers--and the ease with which they
navigate Suriname's highly bureaucratic maze of regulations
to quickly establish themselves here. What remains to be
seen is whether the public will continue to tolerate what is
perceived as favoritism, which according to detractors is
threatening jobs and the economic interests of long-time
residents of Suriname (septel). END COMMENT
SCHREIBER HUGHES