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.
Viewing cable 08BEIJING2718, AMBASSADOR URGES PRC SUPPORT FOR ZIMBABWE
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
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 002718
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/01/2028
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR URGES PRC SUPPORT FOR ZIMBABWE
REF: STATE 74375
Classified By: Acting Minister Counselor Ben Moeling. Reasons 1.4 (b)
¶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.
¶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
¶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
¶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.