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Cablegate: Henan Npc Delegation Stresses Rural Development,

VZCZCXRO7723
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #0826/01 0662339
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 062339Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5523
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 000826

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAGR PGOV SOCI ELAB CH
SUBJECT: HENAN NPC DELEGATION STRESSES RURAL DEVELOPMENT,
FAMILY PLANNING

REF: A. (A) BEIJING 809
B. (B) BEIJING 808
C. (C) 06 BEIJING 24171
D. (D) BEIJING 750
E. (E) 07 BEIJING 7389

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Henan's Provincial National People's Congress (NPC)
Delegation stressed the importance of rural development and
family planning during discussions on March 6 regarding the
Government Work Report that Premier Wen Jiabao delivered the
previous day (Ref A). Representatives from China's most
populous province said taking measures to promote
agricultural development and stem population growth would be
critical for the province's future. At the meeting chaired
by Party Secretary Xu Guangchun, representatives praised
Wen's Work Report, with one deputy telling Econoff that
Central Government policy is in line with Henan's focus on
the basic needs of its nearly 100 million people. Foreign
press faced difficulties gaining access to the meeting
despite previous assurances from the NPC Press Center that
this year's NPC would be more open to the media. END
SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Zhengzhou, Henan's provincial capital, is a Virtual
Presence Post (VPP), and Econoff/VP attended the March 6
Provincial NPC Delegation meeting. (Note: Ambassador hosted
Henan Party Secretary Xu for lunch on March 5 (Ref B).
Henan's GDP grew by 14.5 percent to USD 206.15 billion in
2007 and ranks fifth nationally out of 31 provinces,
municipalities, and autonomous regions, but per capita GDP
remains relatively low at USD 2,200 and ranks seventeenth.
End Note.)

RURAL DEVELOPMENT REMAINS TOP PRIORITY
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Discussion at the Henan Provincial NPC Delegation
meeting on March 6 focused on rural development. With
approximately 70 percent of the province's population in
rural areas, Henan deputies said promoting rural development
and narrowing the urban-rural income gap remain the
province's top priorities. One presenter said the province
would continue to promote urbanization (Ref C), but in doing
so still would pay close attention to the environmental costs
and impact on food security. Henan deputies agreed that
improving rural infrastructure, the focus of the State
Council's 2008 Number One Document (Ref D), would be critical
for the province's continued economic growth.

4. (SBU) Note: Rural-to-urban migration also has played a
major role in recent years in Henan's economic development.
On his arrival in Beijing for the NPC session, Party
Secretary Xu visited a center for Henan migrants who are

SIPDIS
working in Beijing. Xu reportedly stated at that event on
March 2 that there currently are 19.5 million Henan residents
who are working as migrants in other parts of the country.
End Note.

FOCUS ON FAMILY PLANNING
------------------------

5. (SBU) Following Premier Wen's statement on March 5 that
China would continue to carry out the one-child policy in
order to maintain a low birthrate and improve maternal and
child health (Ref A), Henan deputies followed suit, stating
that the one-child policy is critically important for China's
most populous province. One deputy said the province should
continue to focus on the "quality" of its people by ensuring
population growth is slow and there are enough resources to
support social services for the entire population. Henan
representatives acknowledged that the Provincial Government
should take steps to improve the social safety net for the
elderly, especially when one adult child often must take care
of two elderly parents or even two elderly in-laws.

6. (SBU) Note: A Wall Street Journal article on March 6 also
pointed out that the one-child policy has attracted headlines
in the run-up to the March session of the NPC, particularly
after Zhao Baige, Vice Minister of the National Population
and Family Planning Commission, suggested that there might be
changes to the policy this year. End Note.

PRAISE FOR THE WORK REPORT
--------------------------

BEIJING 00000826 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) Henan NPC Deputies uniformly praised the Government
Work Report. (Comment: This is not surprising given the
staged nature of many NPC events, but at the same time, we do
sometimes hear dissenting views from deputies during NPC
delegation meetings. End Comment.) One presenter stated
that Henan would continue to promote Hu's Scientific
Development Concept (SDC) (see Ref E on the challenges for
SDC in Henan Province).

8. (SBU) Li Ya, an NPC Deputy from Xuchang in Henan, told
Econoff that the Work Report's focus on social issues and the
needs of the people, including its emphasis on rural
development, would be particularly important for Henan.
Overall, Li said the Work Report was "very good."

MAYBE NOT THAT OPEN TO THE PRESS AFTER ALL...
---------------------------------------------

9. (SBU) Despite repeated assurances by the NPC Press Center
that this year's session of the NPC would be more open to the
media, foreign journalists (and Econoff) were stopped at the
front door of the Great Hall of the People by security and
told the Henan Provincial Delegation meeting was not open to
the media, even though they had proper credentials and the
meeting was listed on the NPC Press Center website as being
open to the press. A Third Secretary from the MFA
Information Department later apologized to Econoff for the
mix-up, but only one foreign journalist managed to cover the
meeting, which was the only event open to the media on the
morning of March 6.
RANDT

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