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Cablegate: Wu Yi Intervenes As Dr. Gao Case Lays Bare

VZCZCXRO3413
OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #1668/01 0720900
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 130900Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5579
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 001668

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2032
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV CH
SUBJECT: WU YI INTERVENES AS DR. GAO CASE LAYS BARE
CENTER-LOCAL DISCORD

REF: BEIJING 1063 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Ambassador Clark T. Randt, Jr. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Summary
-------

1. (C) Vice Premier Wu Yi personally intervened in
the case of Dr. Gao Yaojie in order to break an
impasse between the Central Government and Henan
Province authorities, xxxxx unusually
candid comments, along with other observations from
MFA staffers, reveal a glimpse into central-local
dissonance and how tough political problems get solved
in China. xxxxx complained that Provincial Party
Secretaries are using their considerable clout to

Sipdis
increasingly weigh in with Central authorities on
issues that affect foreign policy. In Dr. Gao's case,
well-connected Henan Province Party Secretary Xu
Guangchun wanted to prevent the doctor from publicly
embarrassing the province, which would threaten Xu's
own promotion prospects. In the end, only
intervention from the highest levels of China's
Government induced Henan authorities to relent.xxxxx
officials stressed to us China's desire that Dr.
Gao's visit to the United States not be "politicized."
End Summary.

Candid Talk in an Informal Setting
----------------------------------

2. (C) Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi topped the
cast of several dozen MFA attendees at the
Ambassador's Lunar New Year dinner reception February
28. Keen for insights into what prompted the policy
switch whereby Henan Province authorities released Dr.
Gao from house arrest, Poloffs asked MFA officers at
various levels for their reading of how we reached the
positive outcome. Dr. Gao arrived in New York
February 26 and is scheduled to receive an award at a
Vital Voices Global Partnership event in Washington on
March 14. She has told the foreign press that
intervention from high-level Central leaders (as well
as international pressure) likely caused the local
government in Henan Province to release her from house
arrest and allow her to travel abroad.

Henan Feels the Heat
--------------------

3. (C) xxxxx confirmed Dr. Gao's assertions,
remarking that "top leaders" needed to get involved in
order to overrule Henan Province Party Secretary Xu
Guangchun, xxxxx acknowledged. (Note: Xu, the former
head of the State Administration for Radio, Film and
Television, is reported to have ties to President Hu
Jintao. End note.) xxxxx complained that provincial
Party secretaries have considerable clout and are
increasingly weighing in with the Central Government
on issues that affect foreign policy, diminishing the
authority of the MFA in policymaking. Provincial
leaders do not listen to the MFA, xxxxx commented.
Such was the case with Dr. Gao. xxxxx said neither
xxxxx VFM Yang
Jiechi to EVFM Dai Bingguo to FM Li Zhaoxing -- had
the bureaucratic muscle to fix the problem. Vice
Premier Wu herself had to call the authorities in
Henan and tell them to allow Dr. Gao to travel.

4. (C) Henan officials, including Party Secretary Xu,
were likely concerned that if Dr. Gao traveled to the
United States, she would do or say something to
embarrass the province, which in turn could harm the
officials' potential for promotion, xxxxx commented.
As a general rule these days, personal advancement is
priority No. 1 for local leaders, regardless of their
province. "They are most interested in their own
political position," xxxxx complained. Provincial
leaders do not think about the national interest and,
currently, are focused mainly on making sure that
"nothing bad happens" to dash their promotion
prospects, he said.

Wu Yi's Constant Calls
----------------------

5. (C) xxxxx related that Vice Premier Wu Yi
"ruined" his spring festival holiday break by calling
him constantly for updates. After Henan officials
released the doctor from house arrest on February 16,

Beijing 00001668 002 of 002


the case became even more challenging for the MFA
because Central authorities were worried about Dr. Gao
causing trouble in Beijing on her way to the United
States. Would she hold a press conference? Would the
media film her trip to the Embassy to pick up a visa?
"We needed to follow the issue very closely," xxxxx
related.

6. (C) The MFA was also concerned because "sensitive
people" who might be tempted to "manipulate" the
matter fastened themselves to Dr. Gao during her time
in Beijing. "You know who these people are," xxxxx
claimed. xxxxx

7. (C) Although we have no firm evidence, it appears
probable that Senator Clinton's personal appeal via
letter was a key catalyst behind Vice Premier Wu's
intervention in the case.xxxxx
told Poloff they thought the Senator's letter struck
an appropriate tone. Regardless, Vice Premier Wu's
involvement comes at a time when she is taking on a
high-visibility role in United States-China relations.
xxxxx told the DCM that the Vice Premier called him
xxxxx. She gave xxxxx marching orders to
present her and the Strategic Economic Dialogue in a
proper light, he said. In addition, Vice Premier Wu
took an unusually high-level Chinese delegation to
Beijing airport March 7 to meet briefly with Treasury
Secretary Paulson as he transited on the way to

Sipdis
Shanghai.

Don't Politicize It
-------------------

8. (C) Further on public aspects of Dr. Gao's case,
MFA International Organizations Deputy Director
General Chen Xu and Office of North American Affairs
Counselor Deng Hongbo both emphasized that China hopes
the doctor will not "politicize" her visit to the
United States by making controversial comments casting
Henan or China in an unflattering light. In response
to Poloffs' observations, xxxxx
at the reception acknowledged that Dr. Gao's transit
was handled in a low-key way and that their worst
fears were not realized during the doctor's Beijing
stopover.

Daring Daily Breaks Silence, Criticizes Locals
--------------------------------------------- -

9. (C) Following her departure, Dr. Gao's travails
were broached for the first time by China's own media.
On February 26, the Southern Metropolitan Daily ran a
daring editorial on the case that criticized "local
and regional leaders" and called for greater openness
about AIDS and other issues of public concern.
However, the editorial has not been widely picked up
on the Internet, and so far, the paper does not appear
to have encountered any negative repercussions.
Randt

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