08ASTANA2364, CHINESE AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES CHINA’S WIDE-RANGING

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA2364 2008-11-26 11:51 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO0258
RR RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHNP RUEHPW RUEHROV
RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #2364/01 3311151
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 261151Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3987
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0868
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0275
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0977
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0350
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0435
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 002364 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EUR/RUS, EAP/CM 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/26/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EINV CH RS TX UZ KZ
SUBJECT: CHINESE AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES CHINA'S WIDE-RANGING 
INTEREST IN CENTRAL ASIA 
 
Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR RICHARD E. HOAGLAND, REASONS 1 
.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  On November 25, China's Ambassador to 
Kazakhstan Guoping Cheng called on the Ambassador to brief 
him on Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to 
Kazakhstan for the October 29 Shanghai Cooperation 
Organization (SCO) ministerial meeting in Astana, and Cheng's 
views on the role of the SCO in the region.  Cheng 
characterized Russia as "aggressive" in seeking to protect 
its flanks in its "near abroad."  END SUMMARY. 
 
SCO MINISTERIAL MEETING 
 
2.  (C) Cheng said the SCO ministerial meeting consisted of 
two stages: a small-scale meeting between the six member 
states of the SCO and a larger meeting between the six 
members and representatives of the United States, Mongolia, 
India, and Afghanistan.  (COMMENT:  He misspoke because the 
United States is not an SCO observer.  END COMMENT.)  The 
main outcome of the ministerial was a unanimous decision to 
enhance regional economic cooperation to combat the global 
financial crisis.  Member states also agreed to provide $1.2 
billion assistance to Central Asian countries hit hard by the 
crisis. 
 
THE SCO'S PLANS IN AFGHANISTAN 
 
3.  (C) Cheng said that Russia appeared the most eager to 
engage the SCO on Afghanistan.  Russian representatives 
suggested the SCO hold an international conference in Russia 
specifically to discuss Afghanistan prior to the next 
ministerial meeting.  Representatives from Tajikistan won 
support from Russia, China, and Kazakhstan for its proposal 
to set up a permanent international organization in Dushanbe 
to counter narcotics trafficking, but Uzbekistan strongly 
opposed.  Cheng said that China has a keen interest in 
stabilizing the Afghan economy, defeating the Taliban, and 
fighting the illegal narcotics trade. 
 
UZBEKISTAN AN "OBSTRUCTIONIST" 
 
4.  (C) Cheng said that Uzbekistan had taken an 
"obstructionist position" in the SCO discussions about 
Afghanistan.  Most notably, the Uzbek representative, Deputy 
Prime Minister Rustam Azimov, intensely opposed the Russian 
proposal for an Afghanistan conference in Russia.  Uzbekistan 
also opposed Russia,s longstanding proposal to start an 
energy club in the SCO.  Cheng suggested that Uzbekistan 
deliberately sent a Deputy Prime Minister as a political 
statement to other member states.  Cheng interpreted 
Uzbekistan,s actions as part of Uzbekistan's turning, once 
again, away from Russia toward the West. 
 
CHENG'S VIEW OF RUSSIA 
 
5.  (C) Cheng told the Ambassador that Russia has 
traditionally considered Central Asia to be within its sphere 
of influence.  He elaborated the point by describing the 
three Russian strategic "buffers" of Ukraine/Belarus, the 
Caucasus, and Central Asia.  Cheng suggested that as a result 
of recent moves by Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO, Russia 
will continue to place the highest priority on ensuring that 
the countries of Central Asia remain close to Russia. 
According to Cheng, of all the Central Asian states, 
Kazakhstan is the most important due to the strategic role it 
plays as a source of raw materials.  Cheng said that Russia 
will use its two main weapons, energy and military might, to 
hinder European, Chinese, and U.S. engagement with Central 
Asia.  He suggested that this is the primary reason why 
Russia places so much importance on the SCO, which it 
considers a tool to resist the U.S. presence in Central Asia. 
 Cheng added that China will continue to direct its foreign 
policy in Central Asia through peaceful, non-aggressive 
means, while Russia will not hesitate to turn aggressive in 
 
ASTANA 00002364  002 OF 002 
 
 
the region. 
 
CHINESE PRIME MINISTER OFFERS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE 
 
6.  (C) The primary purpose of Chinese Prime Minister Wen 
Jiabao's October 29 visit to Kazakhstan was to attend the SCO 
ministerial meeting.  Wen also used the opportunity to have 
his first formal meeting with President Nazarbayev.  During 
one-on-one meetings, Wen offered Nazarbayev Chinese 
assistance to cope with the global financial crisis. 
According to Cheng, Wen offered to provide an unspecified 
amount of guaranteed investment by Chinese entrepreneurs for 
industrial projects in Kazakhstan's private sector.  Cheng 
stated that t
his financial assistance would be in addition to 
China,s $1.2 billion commitment to help SCO member nations 
combat the financial crisis.  At the conclusion of their 
meeting, according to Cheng, Wen and Nazarbayev signed 
separate energy and financial cooperation agreements.  Cheng 
noted that China attaches great importance to Kazakhstan due 
to its leadership role in Central Asia and said that "China 
will not stand aside" while Kazakhstan has problems. 
 
7.  (C) At the end of the meeting, Ambassador Cheng asked if 
future meetings could also be held in the Ambassador's office 
(or Residence).  He explained he can speak more freely at the 
U.S. Embassy because the Chinese Embassy is still in 
commercial office space.  Cheng expressed clear frustration 
that Kazakhstan has still not approved the agreement for 
China to acquire for its new Embassy the plot of land across 
the street from the U.S. Embassy. 
HOAGLAND

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