Cablegate: Public and Experts Vote On Key Events of Thirty Years Of
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0600/01 2910905
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170905Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7631
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 GUANGZHOU 000600
STATE FOR EAP/CM
STATE PASS USTR CHINA OFFICE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV KPAO CH
SUBJECT: Public and Experts Vote on Key Events of Thirty Years of
Reform and Opening
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(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly. Not for release outside U.S. government channels. Not
for internet publication.
1. (SBU) Summary and Comment: The thirtieth anniversary of China's
"reform and opening" policy is emerging as topic number one among
south China government and media circles. Media outlets are beating
the drums to stir public interest in the occasion. Two local media
outlets working with government entities have conducted or are in
the process of conducting polls to choose the most significant
events over the past 30 years. In addition, government-affiliated
think tanks and academic institutions have assigned their best
thinkers to assess the impact of China's modern history at symposia
planned for December. COMMENT: These initiatives are aimed both at
reminding the people of the successes achieved under the last 30
years of Communist Party rule, but also at cultivating support for
the next stage of economic reform, which for now features Wang
Yang's ideas of mind emancipation (not a new policy but certainly
one increasingly identified with him here in the south) and the
double transfer policy. End summary and Comment.
Media Asks Public to Assess Events of Last 30 Years
2. (U) Nanfang Press Group, working with the Propaganda Department
of the Guangdong Communist Party Committee and China Mobile,
announced October 15 the top 20 most influential events in 30 years
of reform chosen by their public poll and specially chosen
"experts." Approximately 2.5 million Guangdong residents
participated in the online poll. The results were weighted so that
the public poll and experts' survey each accounted for 50 percent of
the final results.
3. (U) The 35 candidates included important policy landmark events
like the establishment of special economic zones (SEZs) in Shenzhen,
Zhuhai and Shantou in 1979 and Deng Xiaoping's famous southern tour
in 1992. The list also included less momentous - and perhaps less
comprehensible in terms of inclusion - occasions like the rise in
popularity of Guangdong pop music in the 1980s and the 1991
designation of Guangdong as China's number one province of mountain
forestation. All four of these events were chosen among the 20
winners in the poll. (Note: All of the winners are listed at the
end of this message. End note.)
4. (U) Guangzhou Daily, in association with the Guangdong Economic
System Reform Research Society, an organization controlled by the
provincial government, is in the process of conducting a similar
poll to choose the 30 most significant events from a list of 50.
Readers have until October 20 to vote and the results will be
announced on October 25.
5. (U) In addition, Nanfang Press Group ran a poll to choose the 20
individuals who have most touched the lives of the people of
Guangdong over the last 30 years. The top three winners were Ren
Zhongyi, the province's former party secretary and reform pioneer;
Yuan Geng, former vice chairman of China Merchants Group who
pioneered industrial reforms in Shenzhen; and Chen Guanyu, a famous
Shenzhen charity volunteer. Other winners included Zhong Nanshan,
the doctor famous for his work during the SARS crisis; Xian Dongmei,
Olympic gold medalist in judo; several professors; innovative
engineers and business managers; and a few people who risked their
lives to save others.
Academia Prepares to Continue the Discussion
6. (SBU) When asked their thoughts about the polls, academics at the
Guangzhou and Shenzhen Academies of Social Sciences told us that
many of their colleagues were currently preparing papers on this
topic to be presented at a Guangdong Provincial Government symposium
that will be held on December 5. The Guangzhou municipal government
will also host a similar symposium in December.
7. (SBU) Professor Peng Peng of Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences
is one of the scholars preparing a paper and offered his comments on
the media polls. Peng believes that any list of the most
significant events must include the central government's approval of
"special and flexible" policies for Guangdong Province in 1979,
which led to the creation of SEZs in Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou.
Without these fundamental early reforms to loosen rigid central
controls, he said, Guangdong provincial and local governments would
GUANGZHOU 00000600 002.4 OF 003
not have had the ability to make key changes over time and lead the
nation in thirty years of economic growth. Shenzhen Academy of
Social Sciences Professor Le Zheng agreed with Peng's assessment and
added that without the policy flexibility and the creation of SEZs,
China would have never succeeded in attracting the foreign direct
investment that led to the country's economic miracle.
8. (SBU) Peng went on to say that the second critical step was the
central government leaders' periodic site visits to reaffirm the
original reform policies - from Deng Xiaoping's famous Guangdong
inspection and speech to Jiang Zemin's south China announcement of
the "three represents" in 2000 and Hu Jintao's call for "scientific
development". In each case, China's most senior leader endorsed the
reform process while visiting the province, and helped propel the
province and the country forward with increased commitment to the
reform agenda, according to Peng.
Comment: Looking Back, Moving Forward
9. (SBU) These efforts to reflect on the past thirty years are
significant not only because the provincial leadership is eager to
underscore the successes of "reform and opening" and how life has
improved during the last three decades of Communist Party rule.
They are also part of an effort to cultivate support for further
reforms to come. Guangdong is coming to the end of the stage in its
economic development where growth is driven by export manufacturing
in labor-intensive industries. The leadership needs to shore-up
support for its plans to move Guangdong's economy into high-tech,
financial and other service industries. This won't be easy and the
process will be disruptive to many of those with vested interests in
the current economic structure. This review also provides the
political cover for more open discourse about what reforms have
succeeded and what might work in the future as government leaders
attempt to ensure thirty more years of growth and development.
Congen Guangzhou will continue to monitor the commemoration of the
anniversary of "reform and opening" as it picks up steam in the
coming months and to assess what it reveals about the future of
reform in China. End comment.
Nanfang Press Group 20 Most Significant Events
10. The following is Congen Guangzhou's informal translation of the
Nanfang Press Group winners:
-- 1. In 1979, the country's first export-oriented manufacturing
zone was founded in Shekou, Shenzhen.
-- 2. In 1979, Guangdong established the Shenzhen, Zhuhai and
-- 3. In 1981, Zhaoqing farmer Chen Zhixiong became the first fish
farm contractor, inspiring a national debate on market-oriented
-- 4. In the 1980s, Guangdong pop music became popular throughout
the whole country.
-- 5. In 1983, the first Sino-foreign joint-venture hotel, the White
Swan, was inaugurated.
-- 6. In 1987, Shenzhen became the first city in the country to
auction land-use rights.
-- 7. In 1987, Guangzhou launched China's first mobile phone
-- 8. In 1987, Guangdong was the first to promote youth volunteer
-- 9. In 1991, Guangdong was honored as "China's Number 1 Province
for Mountain Forestation".
-- 10. In 1992, Deng Xiaoping inspected Guangdong and made his
famous speech, generating support for reform.
-- 11. In 1992, Zhuhai City began paying millions in rewards to
scientific and technological talents in the city.
-- 12. In 1992, The "Shunde Model," a package of reform of
government operations and property rights, was introduced in Shunde
District of Foshan City.
-- 13. In 2000, Jiang Zemin inspected Guangdong and put forward the
-- 14. In 2003, Hu Jintao inspected Guangdong and put forward the
"scientific development approach."
-- 15. In 2003, Guangdong fought against SARS.
-- 16. In 2004, Pan-PRD Regional Cooperation was initiated.
-- 17. In 2007, the 100th Canton Fair was held.
-- 18. In 2008, Guangdong fought against the severe winter storm
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-- 19. In 2008, Guangdong aided the earthquake disaster zone in
-- 20. In 2008, the "mind emancipation" campaign rolled out in