The Cable

Team Obama: China is acting responsibly on Iran, for real

The common perception on Capitol Hill is that China is not doing its part to support the international community's drive to halt Iran's emerging nuclear program. Not so, two senior administration officials said on Wednesday, as they praised China's action on Iran in a conference call with reporters on President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington.

The Chinese have stopped new investments in Iran's energy sector, improved their controls over weapons technology exports to Iran, and Chinese state-owned corporations are not backfilling business opportunities left open by other countries that are leaving Iran, the senior administration officials said. The officials also explained that the Iran issue has been at the top of the agenda on the U.S.-China relationship and that's partly why Beijing's behavior on Iran has improved.

"In all the meetings between the president and President Hu and our high-level interactions, there was no issue that occupied as much time and attention as Iran. It was absolutely at the top of the agenda in pretty much every meeting," one of the senior administration officials said, explaining that recent Chinese action vis-à-vis Iran "demonstrates positive results of that focus."

One of the top concerns in Congress right now about the U.S.-China relationship is that Beijing is not enforcing international arms sanctions against Iran and that Chinese companies have not stopped doing business with Iran's energy sector. Last week, two leading senators wrote to President Barack Obama warning that if the administration doesn't enforce U.S. sanctions law on Chinese companies, Congress will act.

"In fact, in the last seven months since the passage of the resolution I'm not aware of any new Chinese investments in the energy sector," another senior administration official said, apparently not counting ongoing deals between China and Iran to develop gas fields as "new". "That's an important development and it's an important signal to Iran."

"You do not see the kind of backfilling that might undercut the sanctions regime," the first official said.

Regarding exports of missile technology to Iran, one of the officials said that China "essentially adhere[s] to the guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime," which is meant to stop sensitive weapons transfers, despite the fact that China is not a member of that regime.

"China has done a great deal to improve its export control regime in order to try to block such exports," the official said. "There are gaps in China's enforcement. China's enforcement is still problematic... We don't see that as willful action by the Chinese government but as gaps in their system, which we urge them to correct."

In October, the Washington Post reported that U.S. officials had given the Chinese government a list of Chinese companies believed to be breaking international sanctions on arms transfers, including by giving them technology to help their missile and nuclear programs.

Both officials also touted Chinese support for U.N. Security Council resolution 1929, which one official described as "much stronger sanctions than anyone anticipated would pass, or that China would sign on to."

The senators don't agree that the Chinese government is willingly moving to end those abuses and in their letter, they cited numerous reports that China is supplying crucial materials to aid Iran's nuclear and missile programs and alleged that Beijing continues to give monetary and material support to Iran's energy sector, including the delivery of refined petroleum products, which does not violate U.N. sanctions but could provoke penalties under U.S. laws passed by Congress, including the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act that Obama signed into law in July, 2010.

The senators specifically named the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (SINOPEC) as firms that could be subject to U.S. penalties.

"We urge you to warn President Hu that the U.S. will be forced to sanction these companies if they do not quickly suspend their ties with Iran," the senators wrote.

Last October, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report that identified 16 companies as having sold petroleum products to Iran between Jan. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010. Of those 16, the GAO reported that five have shown no signs of curtailing business with Iran. Three of those companies are based in China, one in Singapore, and one in the UAE.

But the joint statement issued on Wednesday by Obama and Hu made no mention of the U.S. sanctions law that could result in congressionally imposed penalties on Chinese companies. Here's the totality of what it said on Iran:

On the Iranian nuclear issue, the United States and China reiterated their commitment to seeking a comprehensive and long-term solution that would restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program.  Both sides agreed that Iran has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and that Iran should fulfill its due international obligations under that treaty.  Both sides called for full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. The United States and China welcomed and will actively participate in the P5+1 process with Iran, and stressed the importance of all parties - including Iran - committing to a constructive dialogue process.  

UPDATE: A senior GOP Senate aide responds to the administration officials' comments with considerable skepticism:

"These senior Administration officials continue to obfuscate and misdirect. Chinese entities are clearly in violation of the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) and the Comprehensive Iran Sanction, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA)," the aide said. "If the administration doesn't act soon, it faces the loss of its waiver authority and investigatory discretion on these matters."

 

The Cable

State Dinner all about what's 'quintessentially American'

When Chinese President Hu Jintao sits down for his formal State Dinner at the White House tonight, he'll encounter a menu and agenda meticulously designed to expose him to what White House planners regard as "quintessentially American."

Celebrity guests at the Obama's third ever State Dinner will include Jackie Chan, Herbie Hancock, Barbara Streisand, Vera Wang and former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Congresspersons and other politicians in attendance include Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Howard Berman (D-CA), James Clyburn (D-SC), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), John Kerry (D-MA), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Taiwanese-American Congressman David Wu (D-OR), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley,

A few journalists (alas, not your humble Cable guy) were also invited: ABC News' Christiane Amanpour, the Atlantic's James Fallows, Washington Post's David Ignatius and Robert Kagan, and the New York Times' Thomas Friedman and Nick Kristof.

Once everyone gets through the receiving lines, sites down at their tables, and after the opening remarks are finished, the guests will embark on an evening dedicated to "a menu, décor, and entertainment that reflect some of the nation's most recognizable offerings."

The dinner menu will take guests on a culinary tour of the United States, with pear as the first course, giving way to an appetizer of poached Maine lobster, followed by lemon sorbet (a pallet cleanser), and a main course of dry-aged rib eye steak, accompanied by double-stuffed potatoes and creamed spinach. Even the desert is America-themed. You guessed it: old-fashioned apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

But the patriotism doesn't stop there. After dining in the Blue Room, Red Room, and State Dining Room, the guests will retire to the East Room for "An Evening of Jazz" featuring performances by Chris Botti, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, Chinese pianist Lang Lang, and Dianne Reeves.

The America theme extends even to the table linens. Each tablecloth "features pheasants on patterned backgrounds in jewel tones, reminiscent of the work of iconic American artist John James Audubon, our country's preeminent naturalist," the White House said.

The White House was quick to point out that there will be some Chinese influence as well.  "A symbol of China-yellow, the national color-will be present throughout the cocktail area," the White House said.

Full list of attendees after the jump:

The Honorable Madeleine Albright, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Alice Albright

 

Ms. Christiane Amanpour, ABC News, New York, NY

Mr. James Rubin

 

The Honorable David Axelrod, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor

Mrs. Susan Axelrod

 

Mr. Jeffrey Bader, National Security Council

Ms. Rohini Talalla

 

The Honorable Elizabeth Bagley, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Kevin Frawley

 

Mr. Steven Ballmer, Microsoft, Redmond, WA

Mrs. Connie Ballmer

 

Ms. Bette Bao Lord, New York, NY

The Honorable Winston Lord

 

Mrs. Denise Bauer, Belvedere Tiburon, CA

 

The Honorable Howard Berman, Representative from California

Mrs. Janis Berman

 

Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Dr. Jill Biden

 

The Honorable Joseph Beau Biden, III, Attorney General of Delaware, Wilmington, DE

Mrs. Hallie Biden

 

His Excellency Zheng Bijian, Chairman, CIIDS

 

His Excellency Dai Bingguo, State Councilor

 

Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs, New York, NY

Mrs. Laura Blankfein

 

The Honorable Antony Blinken, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, Office of the Vice President

 

The Honorable Stephen Breyer, United States Supreme Court

Dr. Johanna Breyer

 

Mr. Greg Brown, Motorola, Schaumburg, IL

Mrs. Anna-Louise Brown

 

The Honorable Dr. Zbigniew Brezezinski, McLean, VA

Mrs. Emilie A. Brzezinski

 

The Honorable Kurt M. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

The Honorable Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs

 

The Honorable James E. Carter, former President of the United States

Mrs. Rosalynn Carter

 

Mr. Jackie Chan, Beverly Hills, CA

Mr. Phillip Button

 

The Honorable Elaine Chao, Washington, D.C.

Dr. James Chao

 

His Excellency Wang Chao, Vice Minister for Commerce

 

His Excellency Tung Chee Hwa, Vice Chairman, CPPCC, former Hong Kong Chief Executive

 

Mr. John A. Chen, Chairman, Committee of 100, New York, NY

Mrs. Sherrie Chen

 

The Honorable Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, Trenton, NJ

Mrs. Mary Pat Christie

 

The Honorable Judy Chu, Representative from California

Ms. Chiling Tong

 

The Honorable Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy

Mrs. Jean Chu

 

The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton, Secretary of State

 

The Honorable William J. Clinton, former President of the United States

 

The Honorable James E. Clyburn, Representative from South Carolina

Mr. John Clyburn

 

The Honorable Richard Daley, Mayor of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Mrs. Maggie Daley

 

The Honorable William Daley, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff

Ms. Bernadette Keller

 

His Excellency Chen Deming, Minister of Commerce

 

Mr. Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase & Co., New York, NY

Mrs. Judith Dimon

 

The Honorable Thomas Donilon, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor

Ms. Cathy Russell, Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden

 

The Honorable Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education

Mrs. Karen Duncan

 

Mr. James Fallows, The Atlantic, Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Deborah Fallows

 

Mr. Xie Feng, Director General, MFA

 

Mr. Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Ann Friedman

 

The Honorable Michael B. Froman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs

Ms. Nancy Goodman

 

His Excellency Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology

 

The Honorable Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense

Mrs. Becky Gates

 

The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury

Mrs. Carole Geithner

 

Mr. Mark Gilbert, Boca Raton, FL

Mrs. Nancy Gilbert

 

The Honorable Chris Gregoire, Governor of Washington, Olympia, WA

Ms. Courtney Gregoire

 

His Excellency Zhu Guangyao, Vice Minister for Finance

 

His Excellency Zhang Guobao, Vice Minister for NDRC

 

 

Mr. Herbie Hancock, Los Angeles, CA

Mrs. GiGi Hancock

 

The Honorable Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Science and Technology

 

The Honorable Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs

 

The Honorable Steny Hoyer, Representative from Maryland, Democratic WHIP

 

His Excellency Wang Huning, Director of the Policy Research Office of CCCPC

 

The Honorable Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to China

Mrs. Mary Kaye Huntsman

 

Mr. Robert Iger, The Walt Disney Company, Burbank, CA

Ms. Willow Bay

 

Mr. David Ignatius, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Eve Ignatius

 

Mr. Jeff Immelt, General Electric, Fairfield, CT

Mrs. Andrea Immelt

 

The Honorable Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

 

His Excellency Li Jiaxiang, Vice Minister for Transportation

 

His Excellency Yang Jiechi, Minister of Foreign Affairs

 

His Excellency Ling Jihua, Director of the General Office of CCCPC

 

Mr. Robert Kagan, McLean, VA

Ms. Victoria Nuland

 

Mr. Michael Kempner, East Rutherford, NJ

Mrs. Jacqueline Kempner

 

Mr. Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola, Atlanta, GA

 

The Honorable John F. Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts

Mrs. Teresa Heinz Kerry

 

Mr. Robert King, UAW, Detroit, MI

Ms. Julie Kushner

 

The Honorable Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative

Mrs. Matrice Ellis-Kirk

 

The Honorable Henry Kissinger, New York, NY

Mrs. Nancy Kissinger

 

Mr. Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, Scarsdale, NY

Ms. Sheryl WuDunn

 

Ms. Ellen Kullman, DuPont, Wilmington, DE

Mr. Michael Kullman

 

Dr. Zhang Kunsheng, Director-General, Protocol Department

 

Ms. Michelle Kwan, Torrance, CA

 

Mr. Lang Lang, New York, NY

Mrs. Zhou Xiulan

 

The Honorable Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources

 

Ms. Maya Lin, New York, NY

Mr. Daniel Wolf

 

Ms. Limin Liu, Reno, NV

Dr. Hugh Shapiro

 

Mr. Andrew N. Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, MI

Mrs. Paula Liveris

 

The Honorable Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce

Mrs. Mona Locke

 

The Honorable Christopher Lu, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary

Ms. Kathryn Thomson

 

The Honorable Richard Lugar, Senator from Indiana

Mrs. Charlene Lugar

 

Mr. Yo Yo Ma, Burbank, CA

Ms. Jill Hornor

 

The Honorable Capricia Marshall, Chief of Protocol, Department of State

 

Mr. W. James McNerney, The Boeing Company, Chicago, IL

Mrs. Haity McNerney

 

Mr. Evan Medeiros, Director for Asian Affairs, NSS

 

His Excellency Jiang Mianheng, Vice Chairman, CAS

 

Mr. Mel Monzack, Wilmington, DE

Mrs. Ann Monzack

 

Admiral Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

 

Mrs. Wendi Deng Murdoch, New York, NY

 

Mr. James Murren, Las Vegas, NV

Mrs. Heather Murren

 

The Honorable Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources

Ms. Virginia Moseley

 

Mr. Paul Otellini, Intel, Santa Clara, CA

Mrs. Sandy Otellini

 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Representative from California, Democratic Leader

Mr. Paul Pelosi

 

His Excellency Zhang Ping, Minister of NDRC

 

The Honorable David Plouffe, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor

Ms. Olivia Morgan

 

Mr. Tom Pritzker, Pritzker Organization, Chicago, IL

Mrs. Margot Pritzker

 

His Excellency Wang Qishan, Vice Premier of the State Council

 

Ms. Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland, CA

The Honorable Edwin M. Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, CA

 

Ms. Azita Raji, JP Morgan Securities, Inc., Belvedere, CA

Mr. Gary Syman

 

The Honorable Ben Rhodes, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting

Ms. Ann Norris

 

The Honorable Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, New York, NY

Mr. Ian Cameron

 

Mr. Robert Roche, Shanghai, CN

 

 

Mr. Kenneth Roth, The Human Rights Watch, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Annie Sparrow

 

The Honorable Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President

Ms. Courtney Chapin

 

Mr. David M. Rubenstein, The Carlyle Group, Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Alice Rubenstein

 

Mr. Kirk Rudy, Austin, TX

Mrs. Amy Rudy

 

The Honorable Brent Scowcroft, The Forum for International Policy, Washington, D.C.

 

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services

The Honorable Gary Sebelius

 

The Honorable Susan Sher, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady

The Honorable Neil Cohen

 

Mr. Robert Sherman, Boston, MA

Ms. Kim S. Sawyer

 

His Excellency Chen Shiju, Chief of the President's Office

 

The Honorable George Shultz, Stanford, CA

Mrs. Charlotte Shultz

 

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Culver City, CA

The Honorable Phil Gordon, Mayor of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ

 

The Honorable Gene Sperling, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy & Director of the National Economic Council

Ms. Allison Abner

 

The Honorable Jim Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State

Ms. Sherburne B. Abbott

 

Ms. Barbra Streisand, Malibu, CA

Mr. James Brolin

 

The Honorable Tina Tchen, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement

 

Mr. John Thornton, The Brookings Institution, HSBC North America, Palm Beach, FL

Mrs. Margaret Thornton

 

His Excellency Cui Tiankai, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

 

Dr. Stanley Toy, Jr., Pasadena, CA

Ms. Lana Toy

 

Mr. Luis Ubinas, The Ford Foundation, New York, NY

Dr. Deborah Tolman

 

Mr. Jose Villarreal, Commissioner General, Shanghai Expo, San Antonio, TX

Ms. Sara Villarreal

 

Ms. Vera Wang, New York, NY

Mr. Arthur Becker

 

Mr. Steve Westly, Menlo Park, CA

Ms. Anita Yu

 

Ms. Anna Wintour, Vogue Magazine, New York, NY

Mr. Shelby Bryan

 

Ms. Patricia A. Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, IL

Mr. Kelvin R. Westbrook

 

Mr. B.D. Wong, New York, NY

Mrs. Roberta Wong

 

Mr. Charles Woo, Mega Toys, Los Angeles, CA

Mrs. Ying Woo

 

The Honorable David Wu, Representative from Oregon

Ms. Anna Kopperud

 

His Excellency Xie Xuren, Minister of Finance

 

His Excellency Zhang Yesui, Chinese Ambassador to the United States

Madam Chen Naiqing

 

His Excellency Sun Yibiao, Vice Minister for Customs

 

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