Viewing cable 06BEIJING24201
Title: CHINA: GEN. XIONG GUANGKAI TELLS AMBASSADOR 2006

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06BEIJING242012006-11-30 11:56:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beijing
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O 301156Z NOV 06
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2609
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BEIJING 024201 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR WILDER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2016 
TAGS: PREL PINS MOPS CH TN KN IR JP
SUBJECT: CHINA: GEN. XIONG GUANGKAI TELLS AMBASSADOR  2006 
HAS BEEN "BENCHMARK YEAR" IN UNITED STATES-CHINA  RELATIONS 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Clark T. Randt, Jr. Reasons 
1.4 (a/b/d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
¶1. (C) This has been a "benchmark year" for United 
State-China relations, General Xiong Guangkai, 
President of the China Institute for International 
Strategic Studies (CIISS), told the Ambassador.  The 
relationship has developed in a comprehensive manner 
including advances in military relations and the 
establishment of the Strategic Economic Dialogue. 
During a November 28 dinner, Xiong told the Ambassador 
that he is worried that the United States is not 
willing to take bigger steps towards improving the 
military-to-military relationship, citing the 2000 
Defense Authorization Act as an impediment to closer 
cooperation and more substantive contacts. The North 
Korea nuclear crisis has proved that China is "a 
country of principles," Xiong declared, emphasizing 
that the resumption of the Six-Party Talks is an 
opportunity that should not be squandered.  Xiong 
claimed that in 1994 and in 2000 opportunities to 
dissuade the North Koreans from pursuing a nuclear 
program were lost.  North Korea's nuclear weapons 
program is based on plutonium and according to Xiong, 
Pyongyang is years away from using enriched uranium in 
its weapons program.  Major General Gong Xianfu, Vice 
Chairman of CIISS, expressed his opinion that Iran is 
taking a tougher position on its nuclear program in 
the wake of recent events that he believes have 
demonstrated to Tehran that it has a larger regional 
influence and role to play.  End Summary. 
 
Benchmark Year in United States-China Relations 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
¶2. (C) While the United States and Chinese Governments 
are not in complete agreement, both governments 
emphasize the development of cooperative, constructive 
relations between the two countries, General Xiong 
Guangkai told the Ambassador during a November 28 
dinner hosted by Xiong and his CIISS colleagues.  In 
the past, both countries adhered to the "three C's" 
principle of building a candid, cooperative and 
constructive relationship.  This year a fourth "C" has 
been added, the relationship is now also 
comprehensive.  Xiong said this has been a "benchmark" 
year because even relations in the defense field have 
advanced.  The decision to start the Strategic 
Economic Dialogue (SED) is also an indication that the 
relationship is taking on strategic importance because 
it establishes a broad working-level dialogue 
mechanism, Xiong said.  The Ambassador responded that 
the upcoming inaugural meeting is unprecedented. Never 
before have so many cabinet-level United States 
officials traveled at the same time to China to hold 
talks.  Xiong confided that unlike other unidentified 
academics, he does not believe United States-China 
relations will be hurt by the outcome of the mid-term 
elections since it is clear under the Constitution 
that the President is responsible for foreign policy 
decisions. 
 
China Still Sees Obstacles in Military Relations 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
¶3. (C) The numerous visits and the joint naval 
exercise between the United States and Chinese 
militaries are all signs of improving military 
friendship, Xiong stated.  The two countries should 
maintain high-level contacts in all areas of defense 
and these contacts need to be substantive.  Xiong said 
he is worried, however, by what he claims is the 
reluctance of the United States to make "big strides" 
toward engaging the Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA). 
Pointing to the United States' 2000 Defense 
Authorization Act, Xiong claimed that the United 
States restricts contact between the two militaries in 
12 areas, including logistics.  The PLA intended to 
send a delegation to the United States in 2006 to 
develop more substantive contacts and to discuss the 
 
BEIJING 00024201  002 OF 004 
 
 
outsourcing of military support services, but due to 
the Defense Authorization Act, the Chinese delegation 
was not able to visit.  Xiong derisively quipped that 
"outsourcing of support services is no secret."  The 
Ambassador emphasized to Xiong that there is much the 
two militaries can still do within the parameters 
permitted by the Defense Authorization Act that has 
yet to be done and added that the planned visit of the 
PLA's Second Artillery Commander to the United States 
in March will be an important visit. 
 
New Opportunity to Resolve North Korea Nuclear Problem 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
¶4. (C) Cooperation in addressing the ongoing North 
Korean nuclear problem "proves that China is a country 
of principles," Xiong declared.  The PRC is opposed to 
the North Korea possessing nuclear weapons and stands 
against the proliferation of nuclear weapons 
worldwide.  Xiong pointed out that UNSCR 1718 uses the 
term "condemnation" to decry North Korea's nuclear 
test, noting that it was difficult for Beijing to 
agree to use such strong language in reference to its 
neighbor.  Xiong assesses the willingness of Pyongyang 
and Washington to restart the Six-Party Talks despite 
the nuclear test and financial sanctions as a positive 
sign and a good opportunity to find a resolution to 
the impasse. Xiong argued that if the September 2005 
Joint Statement can be implemented and the United 
States provides a security guarantee and economic 
assistance then it will be possible for North Korea to 
abandon its weapons.  Xiong asserted that North Korea 
does not want atom bombs but rather potatoes, arguing 
that the biggest threat to North Korean national 
security is economic hardship.  Beijing is never 
overly optimistic about a breakthrough with the North 
Korea and realizes that results will only be won 
through hard effort.  Xiong said that Beijing is not 
afraid of very slow progress but is worried about a 
dangerous stand-still.  The Ambassador reminded Xiong 
that the United States is but one of the five non- 
North Korean parties to the Talks and that these 
parties have been engaging North Korea on its nuclear 
program for a long time with very little to show for 
it. 
 
Lost Opportunities to Resolve North Korea Nuclear 
Issue 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
¶5. (C) Noting that he has visited Pyongyang three 
times, Xiong claimed to have met both Kim Il-Sung and 
Kim Jong-Il. His first visit took place in 1994, the 
year Kim Il-Sung died.  Xiong argued that with Kim's 
death there was a "lost opportunity" for solving the 
nuclear issue.  Kim Il-Sung wanted to open to the 
outside world and liberalize the economy but his death 
had a negative impact on the implementation of the 
1994 Framework Agreement.  Xiong also cites then- 
Secretary Albright's 2000 visit to Pyongyang as a 
 
SIPDIS 
missed opportunity.  At the time of her visit, Xiong 
accompanied then-Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian 
to Pyongyang.  Xiong asserted that Chi was accorded 
the same level of protocol as Secretary Albright. 
Xiong claimed that after Secretary Albright met with 
Kim Jong-Il, he and Chi Haotian met with Kim.  They 
were even given the same "grand performance" in the 
Workers Stadium that Secretary Albright received. 
Without further details, Xiong claimed that this was 
another missed opportunity to improve relations with 
North Korea. 
 
Kim Jong-Il Misunderstood 
------------------------- 
 
¶6. (C)  In response to the Ambassador's question, 
Xiong said that Kim Jong-il, like his father, wants to 
open his country to the outside world to improve its 
economy but at the same time will increase internal 
controls.  Kim Jong-Il will not give up his hold on 
ideology and the military.  The West and China 
disagree with Kim on many issues but Kim is a "quick- 
minded person," according to Xiong.  The differences 
 
BEIJING 00024201  003 OF 004 
 
 
between Kim and other leaders is "a difference of 
interests not a difference of thinking ability," Xiong 
stated, adding that Kim will safeguard the interests 
of his country. Xiong insisted that Kim is in firm 
control of the NORTH KOREA military, having built his 
influence over a long period of time. 
 
North Korea's Plutonium is Plentiful 
------------------------------------ 
 
¶7. (C) In response to another query from the 
Ambassador, Xiong stated that at the time of the 
signing of the 1994 Framework Agreement, Beijing was 
aware that the North Korea was working on a plutonium- 
based weapons program.  Twelve years ago, Pyongyang 
had only a "very limited amount" of plutonium but now 
has an unlimited amount, Xiong said, adding that he 
believes North Korea's nuclear test was a plutonium 
bomb.  He claimed that the North Korea is "very far 
away from making a uranium bomb." 
 
Iran Toughening Its Position 
---------------------------- 
 
¶8. (C) Major General Gong Xianfu, former Defense 
Attache to the Chinese Embassy in Washington and Iran, 
asserted that Tehran is adopting a harder position on 
its nuclear program. Recent developments, including 
the perceived United States difficulties in Iraq, the 
ongoing Israel-Lebanon conflict, the North Korea 
nuclear test and perceived differences between the 
United States and its allies on how to approach the 
Iran nuclear issue are reinforcing Iranian "hardliner" 
views that Iran has a larger role to play in regional 
affairs and more flexibility to oppose United Nations 
Security Council sanctions. 
 
BIO NOTE: Xiong Still Working Hard 
---------------------------------- 
 
¶9. (C) Xiong repeatedly pointed out to the Ambassador 
that he is still a full General in the service of the 
PLA.  While no longer Deputy Chief of the General 
Staff, Xiong is President of CIISS, and in this 
capacity he claims to influence the strategic thinking 
of academics and policy makers in both China and the 
United States.  Xiong said the current focus of the 
CIISS is United States-China relations.  Over the next 
year, CIISS will conduct in depth research on how to 
build and ensure that the two countries have stable 
relations in the future. Based on frequent exchanges 
with United States' China experts and former policy 
makers, Xiong contends that his institute plays a 
positive role in enhancing the strategic understanding 
of both countries. Xiong told the Ambassador 
repeatedly that he is still working full time and is 
"always on the go."  Xiong said that in 2006 he met at 
least once a month with United States academics. 
 
¶10. (C) The following biographic information on 
Chinese participants at the dinner was provided by 
CIISS: 
 
Major General Gong Xianfu joined the PLA in 1960 and 
served successfully as interpreter of the Ministry of 
National Defense and the Defense Attache's Office of 
the Chinese Embassy in France, staff officer of MND, 
Deputy Defense Attache of the Chinese Embassy in Iran, 
Deputy Chief of Staff of a division, Deputy Chief of 
Division in MND, the Defense Attache of the Chinese 
Embassy in Iran, student at the National Defense 
University, Deputy Chief and Chief of Bureau of MND, 
and Defense Attache of the Chinese Embassy in the 
United States.  He has been Vice Chairman of CIISS 
since 2001. 
 
Dr. Chen Wei joined the PLA in 1980 and served as 
staff member of the Chinese Embassy in India from 1994 
to 1996.   He received his Ph.D. from the Department 
of International Politics from Fudan University in 
¶1999.  He has served as a research fellow at CIISS 
since 1999.  Dr. Chen was named Executive Director and 
Research Fellow to CIIS in 2005. 
 
BEIJING 00024201  004 OF 004 
 
 
 
Major General Miao Pengsheng was born in Jiangsu 
Province in 1946.  He joined the PLA in July 1969 
after graduating from university and has since served 
as staff officer, deputy section chief and section 
chief of MND.  In December 1987, he was transferred as 
a researcher in the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State 
Council of China and the Hong Kong branch of Xinhua 
News Agency.  In August 1998, he joined the PLA again 
and served as division chief of MND.  In March 2002, 
he was posted as Defense Attache to the Chinese 
Embassy in the United Kingdom.  In December 2004, he 
returned to Beijing and was appointed Secretary 
General of CIISS.  He is married to Jiang Shujun and 
they have a daughter.  His interests include reading 
and traveling. 
Randt