The Cable

WikiLeaked: China's next president lashed out in Mexico against 'well fed foreigners'

Not much is known about Xi Jinping, the expected next president of China, but according to a newly public WikiLeaks cable, Xi has been complaining to America's neighbors about "well fed foreigners" pointing fingers at China.

In a February 2009 trip to Mexico, the first stop in Xi's six-country tour of Latin America, the current vice president of China blurted out his feelings about criticisms of Chinese diplomacy, according to a diplomatic cable classified by acting deputy chief of mission James Williard.

"There are some well fed foreigners who have nothing better to do than point fingers at our affairs," Xi blurted out at a lunch meeting, appropriately. "China does not, first, export revolution; second, export poverty and hunger; third, cause troubles for you."

Xi showed up with representatives of 20 Chinese companies in tow and made the case that China and Mexico have common cause to cooperate economically, as both are developing countries facing the consequences of a global financial crisis they didn't cause. The embassy cable noted that Xi's outburst seemed to reveal the Xi's true feelings about America despite a more diplomatic message during the rest of his visit.

"It should be noted that his criticism of 'well-fed foreigners' sharply contrasted from the overarching cooperation theme of his visit and were delivered on the first leg of his trip in a country with strong ties to the United States," the cable said.

The cable reported that Mexico was trying to correct its huge trade deficit with China and that Mexican officials were wary of China's tactic of expanding economic activity in developing countries.

"We don't want to be China's next Africa," a Mexican official told a U.S. Embassy economics officer, according to the cable, referring to the oft-cited criticism that China has pursued a strategy of seizing the continent's huge natural resources while dumping cheap industrial and manufactured products into foreign markets. "We need to own our country's development."

Two other recently released WikiLeaks cables also detailed China's charm offensive in Latin America and skepticism on that continent of Chinese motives and practices.

"China's strategy in Latin America is clear: it wants to 'control the supply of commodities,' said the Brazilian consul general in Shanghai," according to one cable sent to Washington from the U.S. Shanghai Consulate in April 2009.

"Colombia is wary of Chinese motives and what it sees as lax Chinese environmental and labor standards. However, Colombia needs new economic partners, particularly given the lack of progress on a U.S.-Colombia Free Trade agreement (FTA)," said another cable, conveying the views of Colombian diplomats as reported by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

The cables paint a picture of an aggressive Chinese effort to insert state-owned companies into America's backyard while Latin American countries have few options but to go along in the face of American neglect.

Xi, who is expected to succeed President Hu Jintao in 2012, has been intimately involved in those efforts, the cables show.

So how did his trip to Mexico go? The cables report the results as mixed.

"Xi's visit intensified the Mexico-China dialogue," the cable said. "However, Mexico's trade deficit with China and concerns over China's approach to investment continue to color Mexico's perception of China as a true partner."

AFP / Getty Images

The Cable

Grover Norquist calls for discussion on right about leaving Afghanistan

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist said he wants to build a center-right coalition to advocate for considering pulling out of Afghanistan in order to save the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars being spent there.

As the United States grapples with the government's fiscal crisis, the huge investment in Afghanistan just isn't wise, Norquist argued at a private salon dinner in Washington on Tuesday evening to a group of foreign-policy minded academics and journalists. He also pointed to the opportunity cost of devoting so much national attention and resources to Afghanistan, which takes focus away from other international challenges.

Norquist teamed up with New America Foundation foreign policy chief Steve Clemons, who organized the dinner, to present his case. Clemons's own effort to publicize the costs of the war, as detailed in the report of the Afghanistan Study Group he helped to lead, dovetails nicely with Norquist's beliefs.

"The U.S. interests at stake in Afghanistan do not warrant this level of sacrifice," the report states, estimating the price tag of continuing the strategy put forth by President Barack Obama at about $100 billion per year.

Norquist, who said his career in politics began with an interest in foreign affairs, noted that $100 billion is exactly the amount some are calling for to be cut from the defense budget.

Clemons is set to release new polling data that he says shows conservatives around the United States support scaling back the Afghanistan mission. The poll, which is based on interviews with 1,000 conservative voters on Jan. 4-10, was conducted by Third Eye Strategies on behalf of the Afghanistan Study Group.

According to the poll, 57 percent of conservative respondents, including 55 percent of self-identified Tea Party members, agreed with the statement: "The United States can dramatically lower the number of troops and money spent in Afghanistan without putting America at risk."

71 percent of conservatives and 67 percent of Tea Partiers said they were "very worried" or "somewhat worried" that the costs of the war in Afghanistan will make it more difficult to reduce the deficit and balance the budget over the next decade.

Less than half of the respondents said that, all things considered, the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, and two-thirds said that the United States should either reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan or leave the country altogether.

"According to findings, conservative Americans worry that the substantial annual costs of the Afghanistan War will make it much more difficult for the U.S. to reduce the deficit and balance the federal budget by the end of this decade," a press release about the poll stated. "Also, more conservatives believe the war has been worth the costs sustained thus far than those who believe the war has not been worth it."

Throughout the dinner, Norquist repeatedly invoked former President Ronald Reagan, whom he said reacted appropriately to past terrorists attacks, such as the 1983 murder of 241 Marines in Beirut, but didn't commit the United States to a protracted occupation of that country.

"Reagan didn't decide that the U.S. should stay in Lebanon for 15 years. We left that country to have their civil war all by themselves," Norquist said.

Norquist also repeatedly referred to those on the right that have advocated for continued and increased investment in the Afghanistan mission, "such as Irving Kristol's son," a reference to Weekly Standard founder William Kristol. Norquist said that despite the fact these voices dominate the debate on the right about Afghanistan, their commitment to extending the war doesn't represent the true feelings of grassroots conservatives.

When pressed, Norquist declined to call for a withdrawal from Afghanistan outright. Rather, he said, he wants to "start a discussion" about leaving Afghanistan among the "center-right," and educate the conservative masses about the costs of the war in the hopes of shifting conservative public opinion.

When Clemons was asked how he thought withdrawal advocates could convince those on the right who argue for continued war in Afghanistan on moral or ideological grounds, he said, "I don't want to convince them, I want to beat them -- or at least compete with them -- in the debate."

Attendees at the dinner included retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, former Bush White House staffer and New America Fellow Jim Pinkerton, the Council on Foreign Relations' Charles Kupchan, the Nixon Center's Paul Saunders, the Atlantic Council's Ian Brzezinski, and many others.