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WikiLeaks could fuel old paranoia

We wrote a couple of days ago that there hasn’t been much popular fascination in China with the U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.

But there does appear to be gathering interest in forthcoming documents.

As some folks have noted, the WikiLeaks site showed there are China-related cables dated June 3, 1989, and June 5, 1989.  These could shed new light on the Tiananmen Square protests that were violently crushed by the People’s Liberation Army 21 years ago – revelations that Beijing’s leadership will not welcome over an incident that’s still not up for public discussion.

It’s also believed that in the coming days another release of cables will include “secret memos exchanged between Taiwanese and U.S. diplomatic officials, perhaps giving the public a firsthand look at the fragile relationship,” reported the Taipei Times.

Tiananmen Square and Taiwan comprise two of the three highly-sensitive T’s in China; Tibet is the third.

So Beijing’s damage control, which we referenced a couple of days ago, comes as no big surprise. 

At another regularly scheduled press briefing today, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson again refused to comment on the leaked cables, only referring to the contents as “absurd” and “ridiculous.”

An editorial published Wednesday in the state-run Global Times newspaper went even further, suggesting the WikiLeaks cables are all part of a ploy to destabilize China: “Is there some understanding between the Web site and the U.S. government?  It may be worth asking.  And what does it mean to other countries that are on the radar screen of WikiLeaks?”

In a sharp piece, ChinaGeeks’ C. Custer argues that the Global Times editorial might be part of a preemptive strike for those cables still to come – which might be more directly damaging to Beijing:

“[B]y tying Wikilinks [sic] into their ongoing narrative about Western imperialism, U.S. aggression, and anti-China forces, they’re assuring whatever they can’t scrub – and whatever leaks through in the future – is discredited.”

But there’s a strong possibility this line might be more than just government spin.

Analysts here in recent months have been talking about the ascendancy of the Chinese military point of view within the leadership – one that is rooted in old-school suspicions about the U.S. and its “encirclement policy” vis-à-vis a rising China.

Click here for complete coverage of the WikiLeaks story