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Cablegate: Guizhou Party Secretary Hosts Lunch for Deputy Secretary

VZCZCXRO8354
RR RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHCN #0011/01 0230115
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230115Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL CHENGDU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2719
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 3293

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CHENGDU 000011

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SENSITIVE
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STATE FOR D AND EAP/CM
NSC FOR DENNIS WILDER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON SOCI CH
SUBJECT: GUIZHOU PARTY SECRETARY HOSTS LUNCH FOR DEPUTY SECRETARY
NEGROPONTE

CHENGDU 00000011 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary. During a lunch banquet hosted for the Deputy
Secretary, Guizhou Party Secretary Shi Zongyuan described his

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professional challenges, especially the problems of economic
development in the face of deep rural poverty. He urged more
high-level visits to interior China, claiming that such
experiences would help dispel notions of a "China threat." End
Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
-----------
GUIZHOU'S ECONOMY: NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP
--------------------------------------------- --------------
-----------

2. (SBU) In a welcoming toast, Shi described Guizhou as "less
developed, but possessing great potential." When later asked by
the Deputy Secretary to describe the foundations of Guizhou's
economy, Shi said agriculture is the mainstay (particularly
rice, corn, and sweet potatoes), although since economic opening
in the late 1970s, resource extraction has become more
important, especially coal, phosphates, and bauxite. While
acknowledging the area's widespread poverty (he noted that 2.5
million of Guizhou's population of 39.5 million lived under the
poverty line), he stressed there has been a steady rise in both
rural incomes and in GDP. In 1985, he said, annual farmer
income was RMB 1866 (USD 260), but by 2007 it rose to RMB 2300
(USD 319). Last year's GDP growth had been 13.7 percent.
However, he also said that despite the economic gains, Guizhou
was still China's only province in which per capita GDP was less
than USD 800 - Guizhou's 2006 per capita GDP was only USD 736.

3. (SBU) As an illustration of Guizhou's rural poverty, Shi
described a visit to a farm family in Fazhao Village in Bijie
Prefecture. A family of four survives on 2 mu (one third of an
acre) of farmland. Of those four people, two are elderly or
disabled, and one is a child. "They didn't even have a bed,"
said Shi. The local government is assisting such families by
donating pigs, which could serve not only as a source of cash
income but also for the generation of biogas.

4. (SBU) Asked about challenges to development, Shi mentioned
the need to develop transportation infrastructure and irrigation
facilities. Although annual rainfall averages 1.3 meters (51
inches), much of that rainfall is unavailable for agricultural
use due to the area's karst geology, which causes groundwater to
drain away from the surface. Shi said that to alleviate the
problem, the province is constructing numerous retention ponds
of 100 cubic meter (3500 cubic feet) capacity. He also
mentioned that much of Guizhou's economy is still "planned," and
that the province is in need of deeper structural reforms.

5. (SBU) Shi stressed the need for foreigners to visit China's
interior: "They often go to Shanghai or Beijing, but they don't
know China's poor areas." According to Shi, such experiences
would help dispel worries about a "China threat." (Note: Other
officials told the delegation that the visit marked the first
time Guizhou had ever hosted such a high-level delegation from
the United States, and the first time -- even prior to 1949 --
that a United States Ambassador had visited Guizhou. End note.)

------------------------------------------
SHI'S BIO AND BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Shi told the Deputy Secretary that he was born in
Xi'an. However, he said his birth there was due to the fact
that his (unspecified) hometown in Hebei Province had been
occupied by the Japanese during World War II, forcing the family
to move west. He noted he had worked in Gansu Province for nine
years and then in Jilin Province before going to Beijing in 2000
to serve as Director of the China Press and Publishing
Administration and Director of the State Copyright Bureau. His
transfer to Guizhou in 2005 was the first time he had served as
Party Secretary of such a large region. He described his
current position as a "tough job," adding that while his most
important task is economic development, his most urgent priority
is improving the living standards of the local people. He said
he feels the responsibility to develop the economy in order to
"make the world more harmonious - then our work will be
worthwhile." He said that he would retire at age 65.

7. (SBU) Note: Shi's official bio states that he is an ethnic
Hui from Hebei Province, and was born in 1946. He served as an
unspecified "junior government official" in Hezheng County,
Gansu province, in 1968, and was promoted to Vice Party
Secretary and Head of the Hezheng County government in 1981. In

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CHENGDU 00000011 002.2 OF 002


1984 he was appointed Vice Governor of Ningxia Hui Autonomous
Prefecture, Gansu province, and became Party Secretary there in
1988. In 1993 Shi was appointed Director of the Propaganda
Department of the Gansu Provincial Party Commission. Five years
later he was transferred to Jilin Province where he served as
Director of the Propaganda Department of the Jilin Party
Commission and President of the Jilin Party School. In May 2000
he was appointed Vice Party Secretary of Jilin, and was promoted
to Director of the China Press and Publishing Administration and
Director of the State Copyright Bureau in October 2000. He
remained in this position until he was appointed Guizhou Party
Secretary in December 2005. End note.

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8. (SBU) Shi invited the Deputy Secretary to return to Guizhou
and tour a distillery where Guizhou's famous "Maotai" liquor is
made. If the Deputy Secretary is too busy for such a trip, said
Shi, the Deputy Secretary's wife and children are welcome, and
Shi said he would personally accompany them on the tour.
Referring to the Deputy Secretary's experience in the publishing
industry, Shi suggested (facetiously) that the two consider
setting up a printing house together.

---------------
COMMENT
---------------

9. (SBU) Although Guizhou is a poor and underdeveloped province,
leadership positions there can still sometimes attract the best
and brightest: Hu Jintao was Guizhou Party Secretary from 1985
to 1988 (prior to his stint in the TAR). However, Hu was only
42 when he went to Guizhou, while Shi's age of 58 puts him much
closer to retirement.

10. (U) This cable has been cleared by the Deputy Secretary's
delegation and has been coordinated with Embassy Beijing.
BOUGHNER

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