US embassy cable - 97BEIJING3816

CODEL ACKERMAN MEETING WITH ASSISTANT MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS YANG JIECHI, JANUARY 28

Identifier: 97BEIJING3816
Wikileaks: View 97BEIJING3816 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beijing
Created: 1997-01-31 03:03:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PHUM PGOV ETRD ECON CH HK TW
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 310303Z JAN 97
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7167
INFO AIT TAIPEI IMMEDIATE 3003
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY TOKYO 
AMCONSUL SHENYANG 
AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 
AMCONSUL HONG KONG 
AMCONSUL CHENGDU
C O N F I D E N T I A L    BEIJING 003816 
 
 
C O R R E C T E D  C O P Y (TEXT/ADDING 3 LINES END PARA 21) 
 
AIT TAIPEI PASS REP ACKERMAN 
 
E.O. 12958:  DECL: 1/29/07 
TAGS:    PREL, PHUM, PGOV, ETRD, ECON, CH, HK, TW 
SUBJECT: CODEL ACKERMAN MEETING WITH ASSISTANT MINISTER 
         OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS YANG JIECHI, JANUARY 28 
 
1.  (U)  CLASSIFIED BY WILLIAM A. STANTON, POLMINCOUNS. 
REASONS: 1.5 B AND D. 
 
2.  (C)  SUMMARY:  IN AN OTHERWISE CORDIAL JANUARY 28 
BREAKFAST MEETING WITH CONGRESSMAN ACKERMAN, ASSISTANT 
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS YANG JIECHI PASSIONATELY 
ARGUED THAT CHINA HAD NOT REPEALED THE HONG KONG BILL OF 
RIGHTS.  CHINA, YANG SAID, WAS MERELY TRYING TO MAKE THE 
BILL OF RIGHTS COMPATIBLE WITH THE SUPREMACY OF THE BASIC 
LAW.  THE BASIC LAW, HE STATED, ALREADY PROVIDED FOR 
HUMAN RIGHTS, INCLUDING FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND FREEDOM 
OF THE PRESS.  YANG COMMENTED HONG KONG'S SUCCESSFUL 
REVERSION TO CHINESE SOVEREIGNTY COULD PERHAPS BE THE 
MODEL FOR RESOLVING THE ISSUE OF TAIWAN.  NOTING CHINA'S 
ECONOMIC SUCCESSES AND THE EXPECTATION THAT FOREIGN TRADE 
WOULD CONTINUE TO GROW, YANG EXPRESSED THE HOPE THAT WITH 
"FEWER RESTRICTIONS" SINO-U.S. TRADE WOULD ALSO 
INCREASE.  YANG SAID HE WAS PLEASED THAT CHINA AND THE 
UNITED STATES NOW SHARED A MORE COMMON UNDERSTANDING ON 
HUMAN RIGHTS.  WITH EVIDENT PRIDE, YANG NOTED THAT THE 
CHINESE PRESS WAS NOW SO RELIABLE THAT THE STATE 
DEPARTMENT USED FIGURES PROVIDED BY THE CHINESE MEDIA IN 
ITS HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT ON CHINA.  AS FOR TAIWAN, YANG 
SAID THAT HONG KONG'S SUCCESSFUL REVERSION TO CHINESE 
SOVEREIGNTYCOULD PERHAPS SERVE AS THE MODEL FOR 
RESOLVING THIS ISSUE. 
 
3.  (C)  ACKERMAN ASSURED YANG THAT THE UNITED STATES WAS 
NOT SIDING WITH BRITAIN AGAINST CHINA ON THE ISSUE OF 
HONG KONG.  THE UNITED STATES WAS CONCERNED ONLY WITH THE 
PEOPLE OF HONG KONG AND THEIR LEVEL OF FREEDOMS FOLLOWING 
REVERSION.  ACKERMAN AGREED THAT THE CHINESE ECONOMY WAS 
DOING WELL, AND HOPED THAT WITH FAIR MARKET ACCESS, 
SINO-U.S. TRADE WOULD GROW.  ON HUMAN RIGHTS, ACKERMAN 
SAID THAT ALTHOUGH HE DID NOT BELIEVE THAT MFN AND HUMAN 
RIGHTS SHOULD BE LINKED, IT WAS NONETHELESS IMPORTANT 
THAT CHINA CONTINUE TO SHOW PROGRESS IN THIS AREA IF IT 
HOPED TO AVOID THE ANNUAL MFN REVIEW.  END SUMMARY. 
 
4.  (U)  ON JANUARY 28 ASSISTANT MINISTER OF FOREIGN 
AFFAIRS YANG JIECHI HOSTED A BREAKFAST MEETING FOR 
REPRESENTATIVE GARY ACKERMAN.  DAVID ADAMS (SPECIAL 
ASSISTANT T0 ACKERMAN), REGGIE LIU (ASSISTANT TO 
ACKERMAN), POLMINCOUNS AND POLOFF (NOTETAKER) ACCOMPANIED 
ACKERMAN.  NORTH AMERICAN AND OCEANIAN AFFAIRS DEPUTY 
DIRECTOR GENERAL LIU XIAOMING, FIRST SECRETARY XIE FENG, 
CPIFA EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEMBER XIAO HOUDE ACCOMPANIED 
YANG. 
 
5.  (C) NOTING THAT HE HAD HEARD THAT THE CONGRESSMAN HAD 
HAD A SUCCESSFUL MEETING WITH VICE PREMIER/FOREIGN 
MINISTER QIAN QICHEN THE PREVIOUS DAY, YANG EXPRESSED THE 
HOPE THAT THE CONGRESSMAN WOULD ENCOURAGE HIS COLLEAGUES 
ON THE HILL TO VISIT CHINA IN ORDER THAT THEY TOO MIGHT 
BETTER UNDERSTAND THE SITUATION IN CHINA.  ACKERMAN, 
THANKING YANG FOR HOSTING THE BREAKFAST, ASSURED YANG 
THAT HE WOULD DO S0. 
 
HONG KONG 
--------- 
 
6.  (C) ACKERMAN, NOTING THAT HE HAD JUST COME FROM HONG 
KONG, OBSERVED THAT THE HONG KONG BUSINESS COMMUNITY 
SEEMED CONFIDENT THAT THE TRANSITION WOULD PROCEED 
SMOOTHLY.  SOME OF ACKERMAN'S CONTACTS IN HONG KONG HAD 
EXPRESSED SOME APPREHENSION, HOWEVER, BECAUSE CHINA WAS 
RESCINDING THE BILL OF RIGHTS.  NO ONE, ACKERMAN SAID, 
COULD TOLERATE FREEDOMS BEING TAKEN AWAY.  IN ADDITION 
BECAUSE THERE WAS NO APPARENT THREAT TO THE HONG KONG 
GOVERNMENT, IT APPEARED THAT CHINA HAD ARBITRARILY TAKEN 
THIS ACTION.  ACKERMAN STATED THAT IT SEEMED AS IF THE 
PEOPLE OF HONG KONG WERE PAWNS BETWEEN TWO SQUABBLING 
POWERS -- CHINA AND BRITAIN. 
 
7.  (C) VISIBLY ANNOYED, YANG COUNTERED THAT CHINA WAS 
NOT RESCINDING OR REPEALING THE BILL OF RIGHTS.  IN FACT, 
CHINA WAS ONLY TRYING TO MAKE THE BILL OF RIGHTS 
COMPATIBLE WITH THE SUPREMACY OF THE BASIC LAW.  YANG 
BLAMED THE WESTERN MEDIA FOR THE INCORRECT PERCEPTION OF 
THE ACTIONS CHINA HAD TAKEN.  YANG STATED THAT THE 
WESTERN MEDIA WERE ALWAYS CRITICAL OF CHINA'S ACTIONS IN 
HONG KONG AND RARELY CRITICAL OF BRITAIN.  ACCORDING TO 
YANG, THE BASIC LAW ALREADY PROVIDED FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, 
INCLUDING THE FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND FREEDOM OF THE 
PRESS.  NOTING THAT BRITAIN DID NOT HAVE A BILL OF 
RIGHTS, YANG ASKED RHETORICALLY WHY HONG KONG NEEDED A 
BILL OF RIGHTS IF BRITAIN DID NOT. 
 
8.  (C) YANG MAINTAINED THAT THE BRITISH, "BELIEVING THAT 
THEY COULD DO WHATEVER THEY LIKED," HAD MADE THE BILL OF 
RIGHTS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE BASIC LAW.  THIS WAS IN 
DIRECT CONTRADICTION OF THE AGREEMENT THAT CHINA AND THE 
U.K. SIGNED IN 1984.  YANG EMPHATICALLY STATED THAT CHINA 
WOULD "NOT SWALLOW" BRITAIN'S ATTEMPTS TO PUT CHINA "IN 
ITS PLACE."  "THIS IS NOT THE OPIUM WAR.  WE WILL THROW 
IT BACK," YANG DECLARED.  YANG, WITH OBVIOUS ANGER, GAVE 
A THUMBNAIL SKETCH OF THE OPIUM WAR AND REITERATED THAT 
CHINA WOULD NOT AGAIN BE PUSHED AROUND. 
 
9.  (C) ACKERMAN ASSURED YANG THAT THE UNITED STATES WAS 
NOT TAKING SIDES WITH THE BRITISH AGAINST CHINA.  HE 
EMPHASIZED THAT HIS ONLY CONCERN WAS THAT THE PEOPLE OF 
HONG KONG SHOULD BE TREATED FAIRLY.  BEIJING SHOULD 
REASSURE THE PEOPLE OF HONG KONG THAT THEIR WAY OF LIFE 
WOULD REMAIN THE SAME FOLLOWING REVERSION. 
 
10.  (C) YANG SAID THAT CHINA HOPED TO MAINTAIN GOOD 
BILATERAL RELATIONS WITH BRITAIN AFTER JULY 1997.  TOWARD 
THAT END, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER HESELTINE HAD VISITED 
CHINA ON A NUMBER OF OCCASIONS.  RECENTLY, DEFENSE 
MINISTER CHI HAOTIAN HAD ST0PPED IN LONDON ON HIS WAY TO 
THE UNITED STATES.  IN FEBRUARY, FOREIGN MINISTER QIAN 
WOULD MEET WITH FOREIGN MINISTER RIFKIND AT THE ASEM 
MEETING IN SINGAPORE.  ONCE THE "HIST0RICAL LEGACY" OF 
HONG KONG WAS RESOLVED, YANG FORESAW NO REASON WHY 
SINO-U.K. RELATIONS WOULD NOT CONTINUE TO IMPROVE. 
 
TRADE 
----- 
 
11.  (C) YANG PROVIDED A BRIEF OVERVIEW 0F CHINA'S 
ECONOMY, POINTING OUT THAT LAST YEAR THE ECONOMY HAD 
GROWN BY 9.7%     IN THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR, 12IN 
THE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR, AND 8IN THE SERVICE SECTOR. 
CHINA'S BILATERAL TRADE REACHED USD 300 BILLION, PLACING 
IT LLTH IN THE WORLD, YANG SAID.  PREDICTING THAT CHINA'S 
ECONOMY WOULD CONTINUE TO EXPAND, YANG EXPRESSED THE HOPE 
THAT CHINA'S BILATERAL TRADE WITH THE UNITED STATES WOULD 
ALSO INCREASE.  FOLLOWING A DECADE OR SO OF STRUCTURED 
REFORM, MANY U.S. COMPANIES --  FOR EXAMPLE BOEING -- 
WERE IN A POSITION TO SUCCESSFULLY COMPETE FOR CHINA'S 
BUSINESS.  YANG SAID THAT WITH "FEWER RESTRICTIONS" 
NORMAL TRADE SHOULD INCREASE. 
 
12.  (C) YANG MAINTAINED THAT THE U.S. AND CHINESE 
ECONOMIES WERE COMPLEMENTARY, IN CONTRAST TO THE U.S. AND 
JAPANESE ECONOMIES WHICH WERE COMPETITIVE.  ACCORDING TO 
YANG, MANY LARGE U.S. COMPANIES, INCLUDING BOEING AND 
AT&T, WERE DOING WELL IN CHINA.  NOTING THAT NEW YORK WAS 
AN INDUSTRIAL "POWERHOUSE IN QUITE A FEW AREAS," YANG 
ENCOURAGED CONGRESSMAN ACKERMAN TO LOOK TO CHINA AS A 
PLACE TO DO BUSINESS. 
 
13.  (C) ACKERMAN RESPONDED THAT HE WAS ENCOURAGED BY 
YANG'S REFRESHING VIEWS, ADDING THAT HE AGREED WITH 
ALMOST EVERYTHING THAT YANG HAD SAID.  WHILE HE ALSO 
WANTED T0 INCREASE BILATERAL TRADE, ACKERMAN STATED THAT 
HE WAS NONETHELESS CONCERNED ABOUT FAIR MARKET ACCESS. 
ANOTHER CONCERN WAS HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA. 
 
14.  (C) CONTINUING, ACKERMAN SAID THAT HE BELIEVED THAT 
MFN AND HUMAN RIGHTS SHOULD NOT BE LINKED.  HOWEVER, IT 
WAS IMPORTANT THAT CHINA CONTINUE TO MAKE PROGRESS IN 
HUMAN RIGHTS IF IT HOPED TO AVOID THE ANNUAL MFN REVIEW. 
AS U.S. CONFIDENCE IN CHINA VIS-A-VIS HUMAN RIGHTS GREW, 
SINO-U.S. RELATIONS WOULD ALSO IMPROVE.  RESPONDING, YANG 
EXPRESSED THE HOPE THAT PERMANENT MFN FOR CHINA WOULD NOT 
BE TOO FAR OFF. 
 
HUMAN RIGHTS 
------------ 
 
15.  (C) ON HUMAN RIGHTS, YANG SAID THAT HE WAS PLEASED 
THAT THE UNITED STATES AND CHINA NOW SHARED A MORE COMMON 
UNDERSTANDING OF THIS ISSUE.  SEVERAL YEARS BACK, THE 
UNITED STATES DEFINED HUMAN RIGHTS ONLY IN TERMS 0F CIVIL 
RIGHTS, YANG SAID.  IN CONTRAST, THE UNITED STATES NOW 
RECOGNIZED THAT THE PEOPLE'S LEVEL 0F SUBSISTENCE AND 
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WERE ALSO IMPORTANT.  YANG MADE THE 
POINT THAT MUCH OF CHINA'S BAD IMAGE IN THE UNITED STATES 
ON THE ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS WAS DUE TO BIASED AMERICAN 
REPORTING.  CITING A RECENT ARTICLE IN THE WALL STREET 
JOURNAL, YANG SAID THAT HE AGREED WITH SEVERAL AMERICAN 
SCHOLARS QUOTED IN THE ARTICLE THAT T0O 0FTEN "THE OTHER 
SIDE OF THE STORY" IN CHINA, THE MORE POSITIVE STORY, WAS 
NOT REPORTED. 
 
16.  (C) ACKERMAN REPLIED THAT WHILE NO GOVERNMENT OR 
GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL LIKED TO BE CRITICIZED, A FREE PRESS 
WAS NECESSARY TO INSURE THAT GOVERNMENTS DID NOT BECOME 
OPPRESSIVE.  THE PRESS, HE SAID, HAD AT TIMES CAUSED HIM 
SOME PAIN, BUT HE NONETHELESS BELIEVED THAT A FREE PRESS 
MUST BE ACCOMMODATED. 
 
17.  (C) YANG SAID THAT THE CHINESE PRESS WAS TRYING TO 
COMPETE WITH THE FOREIGN PRESS AS A CREDIBLE SOURCE OF 
INFORMATI0N.  T0WARD THAT END, THE CHINESE MEDIA 
REGULARLY AND TRUTHFULLY REPORTED ON ISSUES SUCH AS LOCAL 
CRIME.  WITH EVIDENT PRIDE, YANG SAID THAT "EVEN THE U.S. 
HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT" USED FIGURES PROVIDED BY THE CHINESE 
MEDIA WHEN REPORTING ON ISSUES SUCH AS VILLAGE ELECTIONS 
AND ABUSES OF POWER BY THE POLICE.  THE CHINESE PRESS WAS 
NOT MERELY PROPAGANDA -- "LIKE IN THE OLD DAYS" -- YANG 
ASSERTED. 
 
TAIWAN 
------ 
 
18.  (C) YANG MAINTAINED THAT TAIWAN PRESIDENT LEE 
TENG-HUI WOULD FAIL IN HIS EFFORTS TO SLOW TRADE BETWEEN 
THE MAINLAND AND TAIWAN.  ACCORDING T0 YANG, THE RECENTLY 
ANNOUNCED DIRECT SHIPPING ROUTES WERE ANOTHER BOOST TO 
BILATERAL TRADE.  YANG SAID THAT HONG KONG'S SUCCESSFUL 
REVERSION TO CHINESE SOVEREIGNTY COULD PERHAPS SERVE AS 
THE MODEL FOR RESOLVING THE ISSUE OF TAIWAN. 
 
19.  (U) REPRESENTATIVE ACKERMAN DID NOT HAVE THE 
OPPORTUNITY TO CLEAR THIS CABLE. 
 
 
MCCAHILL 

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