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Cable Leaks: Burma Passes Asean News to Beijing

Cable Leaks: Burma Passes Asean News to Beijing

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Published by Jutta Pflueg
US cable leak attributed to Singapore's Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew.
US cable leak attributed to Singapore's Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew.

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Published by: Jutta Pflueg on Dec 02, 2010
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02.12.10 13:53Cable ViewerSeite 1 von 3http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09SINGAPORE529.html
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Viewing cable 09SINGAPORE529, DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG’S MAY 30, 2009
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Reference IDCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin09SINGAPORE5292009-06-04 09:092010-11-29 21:09SECRETEmbassy Singapore
R 040908Z JUN 09FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORETO SECSTATE WASHDC 6790INFO ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVEThursday, 04 June 2009, 09:08S E C R E T SINGAPORE 000529EO 12958 DECL: 06/04/2029TAGS OVIP (STEINBERG, JAMES B.), PREL, MNUC, ECON, SN, CH,KNSUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG’S MAY 30, 2009CONVERSATION WITH SINGAPORE MINISTER MENTOR LEE KUAN YEWClassified By: Charge d’Affaires Daniel L. Shields. Reason 1.4 (b) and(d).1. (SBU) May 30, 2009; 6:30 p.m.; The Presidential Palace; Singapore.2. (SBU) Participants:United States-------------The Deputy Secretary Glyn T. Davies, EAP Acting Assistant SecretaryDaniel L. Shields, CDA (Notetaker)SINGAPORE---------Minister Mentor (MM) Lee Kuan Yew Chee Hong Tat, Principal PrivateSecretary to MM Cheryl Lee, Country Officer, Americas Directorate, MFA 3. (S) SUMMARY: Deputy Secretary Steinberg used his meeting withMinisterMentorLeeKuan Yew tostress the importance of Chinese cooperation in addressing the North Korea nuclear issue and to elicit MMLee’s views on China and North Korea. MM Lee said the Chinese do not want North Korea to have nuclear weapons and do not want North Korea tocollapse. If China has to choose, Beijing sees a North Korea withnuclear weapons as less bad than a North Korea that has collapsed. MMLeeasked Deputy Chief of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Staff Ma Xiaotian what China can do about North Korea. General Ma’sanswer was that “they can survive on their own.” The Deputy Secretarynoted that the DPRK could have a fair and attractive deal if it wouldchange its approach. If not, North Korea faces a change of course by theUnited States, the ROK and Japan. MM Lee said he believes Japan may well“go nuclear.” MM Lee also offered views on the Chinese economy, Taiwan,Chinese leaders, and U.S.-China relations. End Summary.China and North Korea---------------------4. (S) Deputy Secretary Steinberg met with Singapore Minister MentorLee Kuan Yew on May 30 on the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue, theannual international security forum held in Singapore. The DeputySecretary used the meeting with MM Lee to stress the importance ofChinese cooperation in addressing the North Korea nuclear issue and toelicit MM Lee’s views on China and North Korea. MM Lee said the Chinesedo not want North Korea to have nuclear weapons. At the same time, theChinese do not want North Korea, which China sees as a buffer state, tocollapse. The ROK would take over in the North and China would face aU.S. presence at its border. If China has to choose, Beijing sees aNorth Korea with nuclear weapons as less bad for China than a NorthKorea that has collapsed, he stated.5. (S) MM Lee said he asked Deputy Chief of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Staff Ma Xiaotian what China can do about NorthKorea. General Ma’s Delphic answer was that “they can survive on theirown.” MM Lee said he interpreted this as meaning that even if China cutoff aid, the DPRK leadership would survive. This is a leadership thathas already taken actions like killing ROK Cabinet Members in Burma andshooting down a KAL flight. If they lose power, they will end up facingjustice at The Hague, like Milosevic. They have been so isolated for solong that they have no friends, not even Russia. They have not trustedChina since the Chinese began cultivating ties with the ROK, givenChina’s interest in attracting foreign investment, he said. The DeputySecretary noted that the DPRK could have a fair and attractive deal ifit would change its approach. If not, North Korea faces a change ofcourse by the United States, the ROK and Japan. MM Lee expressed worryabout the effect on Iran if the DPRK persists. MM Lee said he believes
 
02.12.10 13:53Cable ViewerSeite 2 von 3http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09SINGAPORE529.html
 the DPRK can be contained and will not proliferate, but Iran has veryhigh ambitions, ties to Shiite communities outside Iran, and oil wealth.6. (S) The Deputy Secretary noted that North Korea’s decisions willhave an impact in Japan. MM Lee said he believes Japan may well “gonuclear.” The Chinese must have factored this into their calculationsand concluded that the prospect of Japan with nuclear weapons is lessbad than losing North Korea as a buffer state. The Chinese take a long-term view and must think that within a few years the DPRK’s currentleadership will be gone and there will be new leadership, with newthinking. But there will still be a North Korea, he said.7. (S) MM Lee said he wishes the USG well in its efforts on NorthKorea, but he would be surprised if the North Koreans agree to give upnuclear weapons. They might give up a first-strike capacity, but they want nuclear weapons in case the USG decides to seek regime change. Theyare psychopathic types, with a “flabby old chap” for a leader whoprances around stadiums seeking adulation. MM Lee noted that he hadlearned from living through three and a half years of Japaneseoccupation in Singapore that people will obey authorities who can denythem food, clothing and medicine.8. (S) MM Lee said the ROK, after seeing what had happened with Germanunification, does not want immediate unification with the DPRK. There is“nothing there” in the DPRK, other than a military organization. Kim Jong-Il has already had a stroke. It is just a matter of time before hehas another stroke. The next leader may not have the gumption or thebile of his father or grandfather. He may not be prepared to see peopledie like flies. China is calculating all this. They have their best menon the job. They want to help the United States to advance commonobjectives. But they do not want the South to take over the North, MMLee said.Chinese Economy---------------9. (C) Regarding the Chinese economy, MM Lee said the global economiccrisis has hit many countries, but the feel on the ground differsconsiderably from place to place. The Chinese economy is reportedly inthe doldrums, but when MM Lee visited Jiangsu Province on May 24, hisimpression was one of continued prosperity. Shanghai has been harderhit, with container port traffic down 30-35 percent, similar to thesituation in Singapore. There is no sign of deep unrest in China. TheChinese are very confident they will be able to sustain eight percentgrowth. The government is pumping resources into the economy, with afocus on developing Western China. Whether such policies can besustained for three to four years is unclear, but China can certainlysustain these policies for at least a year, he said.10. (C) MM Lee stated that in the absence of a social safety net inChina, the Chinese savings rate is 55 percent, exceeding evenSingapore’s 50 percent level. Consumption accounts for only 35 percentof Chinese GDP, as opposed to 70 percent of U.S. GDP. The Chineseleadership may be loath to shift permanently to a more consumption-oriented economy, but the leadership will do so temporarily, if only toavoid unrest. 20 million people have moved back to the countrysidebecause of economic dislocations. The government is providing microfinance to facilitate the transition. The pragmatists are incharge. There is nothing Communist about it. They just want to preserveone party rule. The Deputy Secretary expressed concern that currentChinese policies designed to counter the economic crisis could underminereform. MM Lee said this cannot be helped. China wants to prevent riotslike the ones that happened in Guangzhou in March when Hong Kong-connected enterprises suddenly shut down, he said.Taiwan------11. (C) The Deputy Secretary asked MM Lee for his assessment of Taiwan.MM Lee said former President Chen Shui-bian had left Taiwan in a weakeconomic position, which had enabled President Ma Ying-Jeou to come topower with his pledge to strengthen the economy through means includingexpanding the three links with China. In Beijing, former President JiangZemin was wedded to his eight-point approach, but President Hu Jintao was more flexible. Jiang wanted to show he was a great man by solvingthe Taiwan issue in his lifetime, but Hu is more patient and does nothave any fixed timeline. In Chinese domestic politics, Hu had wantedVice Premier Li Keqiang from the Communist Youth League to emerge as hissuccessor, not Vice President Xi Jinping, but Hu did his calculationsand accepted Xi when it became clear that Xi had the necessary backingfrom the rest of the leadership. Similarly, on Taiwan, Hu will bepragmatic. It does not matter to Hu if it takes 10 years or 20 or 30.The key is building links with Taiwan. As in the case of Hong Kong, ifnecessary the tap could be turned off, he said.12. (C) In this context, MM Lee said, Hu could live with Ma’s positionson the ‘92 consensus and on not addressing the reunification issueduring his term in office. What mattered to Hu was that Taiwan not seekindependence. If that happened, China has 1,000 missiles and is buildingits capacity to hold the U.S. fleet at a distance. The implicit questionfor Taiwan’s leaders is if that is what they want, MM Lee said.13. (C) MM Lee stated that the alternative is Mainland investment inTaiwan stocks and property. The Mainland has already assured Hong Kongthat it will help out economically. The Mainland has not said this toTaiwan, but the Mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Director, Wang Yi, did urgeChinese companies to invest in Taiwan. In four years Taiwan’s economy

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