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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03BEIJING13394 2003-09-19 12:01:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beijing
Cable title:  

SCHOLAR ON CHALLENGES TO HU-WEN "OPENNESS"

Tags:   PGOV ECON CH 
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P 191201Z SEP 03
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2837
INFO AMEMBASSY TOKYO
AMEMBASSY SEOUL
AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
AMCONSUL SHENYANG
AMCONSUL HONG KONG
ZEN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU
JICPAC HONOLULU
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L  BEIJING 013394 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2013
TAGS: PGOV ECON CH
SUBJECT: SCHOLAR ON CHALLENGES TO HU-WEN "OPENNESS"
INITIATIVES

REF: A. BEIJING 11231

B. BEIJING 11465

Classified By: Acting Political Minister Counselor Kin Moy.
Reason. 1.5 (b), (d)

Summary
-------



1. (C) The new "Hu-Wen" government is attempting to
push openness in a number of areas, both to
demonstrate its closeness to the people and as an
antidote to corruption, according to Beijing
University Institute of Political Development and
Governance Director Xie Qingkun. That agenda has
suffered setbacks recently with the tightening of
media controls and the Politburo Standing Committee's
rejection of an initiative to require financial
disclosure statements from officials. Xie tied the
media tightening to caution in advance of the Party
Plenum and also recent criticism of Jiang Zemin. He
opined that initiatives aimed at curbing corruption
are being hampered by vested interests. End summary.



2. (C) In a wide-ranging discussion of the current
political scene with poloff September 19, director of
Beijing University's Institute of Political
Development and Governance Xie Qingkun echoed the
views of other contacts here that both President and
Party General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Wen
Jiabao (referred to as the "Hu-Wen government") are
pushing for greater openness in government and party
operations in order to promote closeness to the people
and as an antidote to corruption. Xie noted that the
SARS crisis had helped them push this agenda, but that
recent attempts to push transparency have encountered
setbacks.

Media Clampdown


--------------------------





3. (C) While Hu had taken some small steps to make
the media more "relevant" after assuming office, Xie
stated that media controls have now been tightened,
referring to a recent party directive to avoid
discussions of political reform (refs). He believes
this is directly tied to a perceived need to show
unity in advance of the October Party Plenum by
limiting public debate. Xie also believes that Party
authorities are concerned about criticism of Jiang
Zemin in newspapers, and especially on some web sites,
in advance of the decision to include the Three
Represents in the Chinese constitution is an
additional factor behind the tightening.

Financial Disclosures Rejected


--------------------------





4. (C) Xie also reported that an initiative of the
"Hu-Wen government" to require financial disclosure
statements from high-level government officials and
their families was rejected by the Politburo Standing
Committee, with only Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao voting
in support of the measure. Xie noted that this shows
that Hu has not consolidated power in the Politburo,
and that its members remain wedded to opacity where
their own sources of income are concerned. Such a
measure would particularly threaten the children of
high-level leaders, Xie said.

Comment


--------------------------





5. (C) Reforms in China rarely proceed in a
straightforward manner. While Hu effectively used
greater media openness during the SARS epidemic to
forestall criticism against the Party, such moves are
certain to cause concern among those who fear that
more open discourse will "get out of hand" and spark
widespread anger against the Party itself. Similarly,
financial disclosure is not a new concept in China;
various initiatives have been announced over the
years. What is most interesting in Xie's comments is
the strong belief, shared by many of our contacts,
that Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao form a team, and that
this team is pressing for systemic change within the
system against resistance within the Party. Such
sentiments are the basis of the growing popular
support for Hu Jintao, in particular.

MARINE