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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08BEIJING900
2008-03-12 03:26:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Beijing
Cable title:  

CHINESE VIEWS OF ASIAN AND ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONAL

Tags:   PREL  ASEAN  ARF  APEC  CH 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO2221
OO RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHPB RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #0900/01 0720326
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 120326Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5661
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 000900 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR: EAP/CM, EAP/RSP, EAP/EP, SCA/RA, S/P
DOD FOR OSD/APSA JIM CLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/2018
TAGS: PREL ASEAN ARF APEC CH
SUBJECT: CHINESE VIEWS OF ASIAN AND ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONAL
ARCHITECTURE

REF: A. BEIJING 1518

B. BEIJING 609

C. 06 BEIJING 24597

D. 07 BEIJING 7126

E. 07 BEIJING 7299

F. 07 BEIJING 7363

G. 07 BEIJING 4926

Classified By: Deputy Political Chief Ben Moeling for reasons 1.4 b, d.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 000900

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR: EAP/CM, EAP/RSP, EAP/EP, SCA/RA, S/P
DOD FOR OSD/APSA JIM CLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/2018
TAGS: PREL ASEAN ARF APEC CH
SUBJECT: CHINESE VIEWS OF ASIAN AND ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONAL
ARCHITECTURE

REF: A. BEIJING 1518

B. BEIJING 609

C. 06 BEIJING 24597

D. 07 BEIJING 7126

E. 07 BEIJING 7299

F. 07 BEIJING 7363

G. 07 BEIJING 4926

Classified By: Deputy Political Chief Ben Moeling for reasons 1.4 b, d.


1. (C) Summary: China believes multilateral arrangements in
the Asia-Pacific region foster trust and stabilize relations,
creating the peaceful diplomatic and security environment
China considers necessary to speed its domestic development.
China now finds useful an ASEAN-led regional architecture,
despite some frustrations with ASEAN leadership. However,
though unwilling to push ASEAN toward such a model, China
sees a natural evolution toward a less ASEAN-led
architecture. Chinese interlocutors insist the various
multilateral regional institutions are generally
complementary. China views ARF as the best forum for
security discussion, the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) as the best
vehicle for regional integration, the East Asia Summit (EAS)
as a forum for strategic dialogue, and APEC as a forum for
engaging the United States and extending China's economic
reach. Chinese officials say China does not seek to lessen
U.S. influence in Asia. Nonetheless, some Chinese approaches
aim to strengthen multilateral fora that may lessen the
influence of U.S. bilateral alliances and other
relationships. Some contacts point to the growing "need for
improving, streamlining, and reforming regional
architecture." End Summary.

Multilateralism's Benefits
--------------


2. (C) Academic and Chinese Government contacts often say
multilateral institutions and regional groupings are a key
element of China's foreign policy. Ministry of State
Security-affiliated China Institutes of Contemporary
International Relations (CICIR) scholar Chen Yurong (and many
others) say a "balanced, multilateral system" furthers

China's goal of fostering a more peaceful environment for
economic development and dampening fears of its rise.
CICIR's Zhai Kun noted separately that multilateral and
regional institutions enable China's participation in the
international system and serve mutual interests. That is,
Asia-Pacific countries seek to "enmesh" China into
multilateral arrangements and Chinese leaders generally
believe a more "multilateralized" China will improve
political relations with its neighbors.

China's Political Flexibility
--------------


3. (C) Tactics such as Chinese inclusiveness and open
acceptance even of pariahs such as Burma and North Korea, its
support of non-interference and its emphasis on consensus and
sovereignty all slowly cultivate greater trust of Chinese
intentions in the region. CICIR's Zhang Xuegang contrasted
China's acceptance of Asia's consensus-based, gradualist
multilateralism with Western impatience and desire for speedy
change. Noting the U.S. refusal to sign the Treaty of Amity
and Cooperation (TAC), he said "signing a non-substantive
agreement like the TAC is not a problem for China." Sectoral
and flexible approaches to China-ASEAN FTA negotiations are
popular with ASEAN countries, although they do not
necessarily result in high-quality agreements. According to
MFA Policy Planning Department Counselor Tang Guocai, China
supports the evolving, unambitious trajectory of a "flexible,
gradual and comfortable" regional architecture.

ASEAN Leadership: OK with China...for Now
--------------


4. (C) China values ASEAN's lead role in the regional
multilateral architecture. ASEAN leadership dampens
competition in Northeast Asia while building ASEAN's trust of
Chinese intentions, scholars and MFA officials suggest.

BEIJING 00000900 002 OF 003


Furthermore, some experts say economic and socio-cultural
integration via both China-ASEAN and APT arrangements boost
development in China's southern provinces. MFA-affiliated
China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) scholar Shen
Shishun noted continued pressure exerted by southern
provinces on Beijing for further southward economic
integration and a stable China-ASEAN political and security
relationship.


5. (C) Chinese MFA officials and scholars acknowledge the
asymmetrical nature of an ASEAN-led regional architecture,
comparing the relationship to "small horses pulling a big
cart." CIIS' Shen noted China's role of "pushing the cart
from behind" as a "leader rather than an organizer." Yet
China so far remains comfortable with this role and does not
actively seek to alter the current political dynamic.
However, scholars and some MFA officials admit to frustration
with the inadequacies of ASEAN-led institutions. They
believe a movement away from an ASEAN-led architecture will
naturally develop as major power relations improve. This
development is "easier now than five to ten years ago,"
according to MFA Policy Planning Department Counselor Tang
Guocai. However, China remains reluctant for now to push
ASEAN in this direction.

Complementary Arrangements...
--------------


6. (C) Nearly all scholars and MFA officials insist the
overlapping agendas of the growing number of Asian and
Asia-Pacific regional institutions (ASEAN, ASEAN's Plus One
Dialogue Partnerships, APT, EAS, ASEAN Regional Forum, APEC
and a potential Northeast Asia security grouping) remain
largely complementary. According to CICIR's Zhai Kun, the
proliferation of regional institutions is "inevitable in
Asia" and avoiding some overlap is "impossible." In any
case, overlap is "comfortable for China," Zhai said.

...Contrasting Missions
--------------


7. (C) CICIR's Zhang Xuegang said the ASEAN Regional Forum
(ARF) remains the best regional institution for security
because of the participation of the United States. He notes,
however, that ARF overaps with less comprehensive security
agendas in APT and EAS. Other interlocutors, including MFA
International Organizations Department APEC Division Director
Geng Shuang, suggested that many security issues should move
from APEC to ARF. Officials have told us that Taiwan's
participation in APEC is the fundamental reason for China's
objection to APEC's discussion of security issues, which
China believes should be reserved for sovereign states.
Chinese officials also distinguish the roles of APT and the
East Asia Summit (EAS). MFA Asia Department Deputy Director
General Yang Yanyi stated that APT focuses on regional
integration and "community-building," while EAS serves as a
"strategic dialogue," despite a "very confused" agenda.

APEC's Role
--------------


8. (C) MFA APEC Division Director Geng said APEC widens
China's economic and political reach beyond East Asia.
Though APEC could be considered a "talk-shop," the U.S.
presence gives it an important political value. Many Chinese
scholars also note that APEC's strength derives from the
participation of the United States, but say APEC remains less
well-suited than APT for concrete economic integration and
community-building. Pressed on China's relative
prioritization of APEC and APT, observers note President Hu's
attendance at the APEC Leaders' Meeting and Premier Wen's
(lower ranking) attendance at ASEAN Summits. Geng further
contrasted APEC's technical cooperation with APT's focus on
assistance.

What is Asian Regional Integration?
--------------


9. (C) Chinese experts and officials have argued that Asian

BEIJING 00000900 003 OF 003


integration will not resemble the European model, but agree
little on how Asian integration will occur. MFA officials
and scholars, reflecting the lack of a coherent Chinese
strategy, give different answers regarding the aim (economic
development, trade facilitation, democratic development, or
common foreign policies), current pace or even the
composition (ASEAN-China, APT, EAS or possibly a
trans-Pacific arrangement) of Asian regional integration.
Nonetheless, most tend to support either the ASEAN-China
arrangement or APT as the best vehicle for economic
integration. Although foreign and security policy
synchronization is distant, East Asian integration is
inevitable, Chinese scholars say. CIIS' Shen and others say
despite disagreement on its composition and
comprehensiveness, a distinctly pan-Asian integration process
will inevitably occur.

Role of the United States in the Regional Architecture
-------------- --------------


10. (C) MFA Officials and scholars often claim that China
does not wish to exclude the United States from Asian
multilateral institutions, lessen U.S. influence in Asia, or
dominate pan-Asian cooperation. Foreign Affairs University
Professor Qin Yaqing said an active U.S. presence in
Southeast Asia dampens ASEAN suspicion of China and Japan.
Furthermore, U.S.-China cooperation in ASEAN-led institutions
increases ASEAN's trust of China. CICIR scholars Zhai and
Zhang further emphasized that the United States remains
crucial to any effective strategic and security forum in Asia.


11. (C) Notwithstanding these claims, Chinese approaches seek
in some ways to lessen U.S. influence. Senior MFA officials
and scholars see inclusive Northeast Asia security
cooperation (such as the Northeast Asia Peace and Security
Mechanism, or NEAPSM) as an alternative to U.S. bilateral
alliances. Reliance on APT as the main vehicle for East Asian
economic integration also implicitly reduces U.S. influence
on the evolving regional economic framework. Though some
officials such as MFA Asia Department ASEAN Division Deputy
Director Zhu Jun question the depth of economic integration
and political cooperation within pan-Asian arrangements, the
view that trade patterns and political coordination continue
to evolve in pan-Asian ways that lessen U.S. influence is
more commonly held.

Evolving Chinese Attitudes?
--------------


12. (C) China's approach to Asian multilateralism may be
evolving along with its major power status. Developing
politically symbolic relationships within Asia remains a key
Chinese objective. But scholars such as CICIR's Zhai and
CIIS' Shen say as China's interests grow and its economic and
political reach expands, the Chinese approach focuses less on
the optics of cooperation and more on substantive gains.
However, an evolving regional architecture cannot compromise
core Chinese interests, namely Taiwan, or pressure Chinese
behavior in directions that threaten its core interests.

What Next?
--------------


13. (C) Many scholars and MFA officials note China's interest
in new arrangements that track closely with China's regional
priorities. In referring to potential new trans-Pacific
arrangements such as NEAPSM, a proposal for an Asian G-8 and
a U.S.-China-Japan dialogue, MFA Counselor Tang pointed to
the "necessity for improving, streamlining and reforming
regional architecture." Scholars note tense Sino-Japanese
relations and other regional rivalries as obstacles to
pan-Asian integration as well as the efficacy of ASEAN
leadership. Complaining by scholars aside, there des not
appear to be any short-term stimulus for Chinese action to
change this dynamic. While China seems willing to exlore
new options outside the ASEAN umbrella, China is not willing
to push ASEAN away from its leadership role in existing
ASEAN-led multilateral arrangements.
RANDT