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China said problem in Zimbabwe was not Mugabe but Tsvangirai

China’s assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jieyi told United States ambassador to China Clark Randt that the problem in Zimbabwe was not Robert Mugabe but Morgan Tsvangirai.

Randt had gone to see the minister to persuade China to vote for a resolution to impose United Nations sanctions on Zimbabwe following its disputed presidential elections run-off in which Mugabe had stood unopposed after Tsvangirai pulled out because of violence.

Liu said China was opposed to the resolution because the real obstacle to a negotiated solution in Zimbabwe was Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai had changed his position from conciliatory to “hard line” and Liu blamed this change of position on the draft United Nations Security Council resolution and the international community’s statements, which had “put a lot of pressure on Mugabe” and given Tsvangirai an incentive to “wait things out” rather than engage in substantive negotiations.

Randt asked Liu if China truly believed that Mugabe was willing to countenance a power sharing arrangement.

Liu said that China had “an authoritative, reliable source” who stated that Mugabe was willing to consider sharing power, perhaps with himself as president and Tsvangirai in an “executive position” such as premier.

“Mugabe is even considering retirement, maybe in one or two years,” Liu said.

He said the parties in Zimbabwe could come to a solution if the UNSC resolution did not provide Tsvangirai another reason not to consider negotiation.

“Mugabe is trying to reach a solution, and has the backing of many African countries. We should give him a chance,” Liu urged.

China subsequently vetoed the resolution. Mugabe and Tsvangirai entered into an agreement with Mugabe as President and Tsvangirai as Prime Minister.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08BEIJING2718, AMBASSADOR URGES PRC SUPPORT FOR ZIMBABWE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08BEIJING2718

2008-07-11 12:57

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Beijing

VZCZCXRO4918

OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHTRO RUEHVC

DE RUEHBJ #2718/01 1931257

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 111257Z JUL 08

FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8557

INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE

RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE

RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE 0152

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2036

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 002718

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/01/2028

TAGS: UNSC PREL PHUM ZI XA ZU CH

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR URGES PRC SUPPORT FOR ZIMBABWE

RESOLUTION

 

REF: STATE 74375

 

Classified By: Acting Minister Counselor Ben Moeling. Reasons 1.4 (b)

and (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: In a meeting with Assistant Foreign Minister

Liu Jieyi the Ambassador pushed strongly for China to support

bringing a resolution on Zimbabwe to a vote in the UN

Security Council and to vote for that resolution. AFM Liu

said China opposes the draft resolution and claimed that the

real obstacle to a negotiated solution in Zimbabwe is Morgan

Tsvangirai, whose position has changed from conciliatory to

hard line because he perceives Mugabe to be under pressure

from the International Community. Liu stressed China’s

position that the situation in Zimbabwe does not warrant

reference to Chapter VII, and said “China sincerely hopes our

votes are not divided on this issue.” He said China has

information that Mugabe would accept a power sharing

agreement with Tsvangirai, possibly with Mugabe as president

and Tsvangirai in an “executive position” such as Premier.

END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) In the absence of Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui,

the Ambassador met with Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jieyi

July 11 at the Foreign Ministry, accompanied by Acting POL

MinCouns. AFM Liu was accompanied by a full lineup of staff

from the North American and Oceanian Affairs Department,

including Director General Zheng Zeguang, Deputy Director

General Deng Hongbo, USA Division Director An Gang and USA

Division Deputy Director Jing Quan.

 

3. (C) Drawing on reftel points, the Ambassador stressed the

seriousness of the situation in Zimbabwe and noted that it

had been a topic of discussion between President Bush and

President Hu at their meeting at the G-8 Summit in Japan. He

noted that Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan

Tsvangirai had denied the reports that negotiations are

taking place in South Africa between the MDC and the

Government of Zimbabwe.

 

4. (C) The situation in Zimbabwe remains dire, the Ambassador

continued. The Security Council must act to tell the Mugabe

regime to end the violence and begin serious negotiations

with the opposition leading to a solution that respects the

will of the Zimbabwean people. The Ambassador stated that

the draft resolution will empower regional and international

mediators by strengthening the incentives for Mugabe to

negotiate seriously. He urged AFM Liu to instruct China’s

Permanent Representative to support bringing the draft

resolution to an immediate vote and to vote “yes.”

 

5. (C) AFM Liu said that China is also concerned about the

situation in Zimbabwe and has been discussing the issue of

the draft UNSC resolution with the other members of the

Security Council in recent days. Liu said that China is

squarely behind an African solution to the Zimbabwe problem,

to be reached through consultation and negotiation. Liu said

the African Union has adopted a resolution calling for

dialogue and calling on the International Community not to

undertake any acts that would harm the atmosphere for

negotiations. The South African Development Community (SADC)

is actively involved in mediation, as is South African

President Thabo Mbeki.

 

6. (C) The problem is not Mugabe, Liu asserted, but instead

is actually Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai has changed his position

from conciliatory to “hard line.” Liu blamed this change of

position on the draft UNSCR and the International Community’s

statements, which have “put a lot of pressure on Mugabe” and

given Tsvangirai an incentive to “wait things out” rather

than engage in substantive negotiations. According to

information from South Africa, Liu said, three groups are

actually negotiating: Tsvangirai’s group, another faction

from MDC and ZANU-PR. If the conditions are right, and if

the International Community and the UN Security Council work

in the same direction and move things forward, there is the

possibility of reaching an agreement on power sharing and a

government of national unity, Liu declared. This is the best

solution for Zimbabwe’s people, and offers the greatest

chance of “returning Zimbabwe to normalcy.”

 

7. (C) The International Community must give President Mbeki

and the African countries the time they need to work out a

solution that will allow a united government and power

sharing in Zimbabwe, Liu continued. He strongly urged the

United States, as well as the UK, not to press to submit the

draft resolution for a vote. “We have serious problems with

the content,” he said, arguing that the situation in Zimbabwe

 

BEIJING 00002718 002 OF 002

 

 

does not constitute a threat to international peace and

security according to the UN Charter and therefore there is

no basis for a reference to Chapter VII.

 

8. (C) The draft resolution “is not a basis for moving to a

negotiated solution and will complicate the situation and

move us farther away from a power-sharing solution,” Liu

said. The United States and China share the same goal for

Zimbabwe: peace and stability. We differ only on the means

for achieving that goal. China believes that not submitting

the resolution will do much to encourage a solution in

Zimbabwe.

 

9. (C) South Africa, Russia and China all have very strong

views on this resolution. In light of the “extraordinary

cooperation on a range of issues” between the United States

and China, Liu said, “China sincerely hopes our votes are not

divided on this issue.” He noted that a vote could move

Zimbabwe towards “complication and chaos,” observing that

Mugabe “has armed forces.”

 

10. (C) The Ambassador asked Liu if China truly believes that

Mugabe is willing to countenance a power sharing arrangement.

AFM Liu said that China has “an authoritative, reliable

source” who states that Mugabe is willing to consider sharing

power, perhaps with himself as president and Tsvangirai in an

“executive position” such as premier. “Mugabe is even

considering retirement, maybe in one or two years,” Liu said.

He noted that the “authoritative, reliable source” was at

the G-8 summit in Japan. (Note: Liu did not say so

explicitly, but was strongly hinting that his source was

President Mbeki.)

 

11. (C) The parties involved can come to a solution, Liu

said, if the UNSC resolution does not provide Tsvangirai

another reason not to consider negotiation. “Mugabe is

trying to reach a solution, and has the backing of many

African countries. We should give him a chance,” Liu urged.

The Ambassador noted that Zimbabwe is in terrible shape as a

result of Mugabe.

 

12. (C) Liu stated that Zimbabwe must “find a new state

apparatus” that will prevent the country from “falling into

chaos.” We must work to increase the possibility that our

common objective will be successful, which means “relaxing a

bit” in the UN Security Council, Liu concluded.

RANDT

 

RANDT

(10 VIEWS)

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