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Cablegate: Shanghai: The Party Secretary Is Online

VZCZCXRO0733
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGH #0494/01 3190600
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140600Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7320
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2269
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 1500
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 1521
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1529
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 1690
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 1322
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 7920

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SHANGHAI 000494

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EEB/CIP, EAP/CM, INR/B
DEPT ALSO FOR IIP AND R
USDOC PASS BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
USDOC FOR ITA DAS KASOFF, MELCHER, OCEA/SZYMANSKI
STATE PASS USTR FOR STRATFORD, WINTER, KATZ
NSC FOR LOI
TREASURY FOR DANIEL WRIGHT
TREASURY FOR OASIA - CUSHMAN, WINSHIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV PHUM EFIN TINT ETTC SOCI CH
SUBJECT: SHANGHAI: THE PARTY SECRETARY IS ONLINE

REF: SHANGHAI 493

(U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified and for official
use only. Not for distribution outside of USG channels or via
the internet.

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Shanghai CPC Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng participated
in his first webchat on November 6, fielding questions from
Shanghai residents on economic and social issues. Netizens took
advantage of the opportunity to raise concerns about economic
development, infrastructure projects, housing prices, resident
registration (hukou) policy, traffic congestion, and small
business development. Addressing concerns about the global
financial crisis, Yu answered that the Municipal Government
would introduce several new policies to increase domestic demand
and improve infrastructure. On social issues, Yu identified
housing and traffic congestion as the two most pressing problems
in Shanghai. Liu Yungeng, Director of the Shanghai Municipal
People's Congress (SMPC), followed Yu's example with a webchat
of his own on November 12. Separately, a speaker at the
U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum on November 7 highlighted the
growing importance of e-government in China. End Summary.

The Party Secretary is Online!
------------------------------

2. (SBU) Politburo member and Shanghai Communist Party (CPC)
Secretary Yu Zhengsheng participated in a webchat on
Eastday.com, a local internet service provider, on November 6,
fielding questions from Shanghai residents on economic and
social issues. Also participating in Yu's first online chat
were Shanghai CPC Deputy Party Secretary Yin Yicui, Chief of the
Propaganda Department Wang Zhongwei, and Chief of the
Organizations Department Shen Hongguang. The webchat started at
9:15 a.m. local time and lasted almost two hours. Eastday.com
estimated that more than 200,000 netizens participated in the
webchat, posing more than 7,000 questions. Yu said during the
webchat that he regularly uses the internet, particularly to
read online news articles.

Aiming for "Zero Distance" Interactions
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Zhang Qingling, Eastday.com's Office Director, told
Poloff the day after the webchat that Eastday.com officials were
very happy with the outcome, and they hope there will be more
online interviews with local government officials in the future.
Webchats provide Shanghai's residents with an opportunity for
"zero distance" interactions with local leaders, Zhang said. An
op-ed in the Oriental Morning Post praised Yu for his role in
the webchat, adding that the Internet has become "an important
vehicle for soliciting public opinion" in China.

Shanghai's Netizens Voice Their Concerns
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Netizens raised a number of concerns during the
webchat, including economic development, infrastructure
projects, housing prices, resident registration (hukou) policy,
traffic congestion, and small business development. Shanghai's
preparations for the 2010 World Expo attracted a significant
amount of attention with a particular focus on transportation
and infrastructure needs. One netizen asked how Shanghai will
provide adequate transportation resources for tourists who visit
Shanghai for the Expo. (Note: Shanghai Expo Bureau officials
predict 60-70 million visitors at the six-month World Expo in
2010.) Another asked "how to make Shanghai a livable city to
show people Scientific Development."

Economics: "If It's Going to Rain, Take an Umbrella"
--------------------------------------------- -------


SHANGHAI 00000494 002 OF 003


5. (SBU) Yu responded to concerns about the global financial
crisis and China's economic slowdown, stating that the worldwide
economic situation already has affected China. Addressing a
university student's concern about future job prospects, Yu
answered that the Municipal Government would introduce six or
seven new policies (similar to the State Council's 10-point
plan) to increase domestic demand and improve infrastructure.
From the Municipal Government's perspective, Yu said, "I can
only tell you to take an umbrella when it is going to rain; the
problem is whether you open the umbrella at the right time and
whether the umbrella works." He also stressed that Shanghai's
economy is not shrinking, as industrial output grew 12 percent
in the last nine months, and Shanghai's economic fundamentals
remain strong.

Social Problems and Economic Growth
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) Yu also said the Municipal Government would release a
detailed housing policy in December that would clarify the
policy on rights to resell low-income housing. He identified
housing and traffic congestion as the two most pressing issues
in Shanghai. For commercial apartments, Yu said, the government
would use taxation and land policy to affect market prices. The
Party Secretary also promised changes in Shanghai's resident
registration (hukou) system are on the way, which will allow
out-of-town graduates or "talented" people to continue to work
in the city without restrictions. The new policy hopefully
would help attract more talented people to Shanghai, Yu said.

Municipal People's Congress Director Also Online
--------------------------------------------- ---

7. (SBU) Liu Yungeng, Director of the Shanghai Municipal
People's Congress (SMPC), followed Yu's example with a webchat
of his own on Eastday.com on November 12. Nearly 20,000 people
participated in the Liu webchat and raised over 2,700 questions.
Liu echoed many of Yu's sentiments during the webchat, stating
that the SMPC and Shanghai's CPC Standing Committee have done a
lot of work on easing China's economic transition and dealing
with the global financial crisis. Liu said the SMPC would
strengthen transparency to help people learn more about legal
procedures. He stated that he appreciated having an online chat
with netizens, and he pointed out that the SMPC website now has
its own platform for soliciting opinions and suggestions from
the public.

Making Advances in E-Government
-------------------------------

8. (SBU) Speaking at the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum in
Shanghai on November 7 (reftel), Hu Qiheng, Chairwoman of the
Internet Society of China, outlined progress on e-government,
stating that by the end of 2007, over 86 percent of governments
at central and local levels had launched independent websites,
including 96 percent of State Council organs, all of the
provincial governments, 96.7 percent of prefecture- and
city-level governments, and 96 percent of county-level
governments. More than 80 percent of government websites
currently include some form of public outreach, Hu said, and
according to 2007 statistics, 82.6 percent of government
websites have e-mail services, 52.4 percent of government
websites have online surveys, 21.6 percent of government
websites conduct online interviews (like the Yu webchat), and
17.7 percent of government websites have forums for discussing
public affairs. Through the Internet, people can offer policy
suggestions and oversee government operations, Hu stated.

More Online Exchanges to Come
-----------------------------

9. (SBU) Comment: We expect to see more online exchanges with
government officials in East China. In the most economically
developed region of the country, the number of netizens is

SHANGHAI 00000494 003 OF 003


growing rapidly, and expectations appear to be rising that there
will be many more opportunities for "zero distance" interactions
with local leaders. End Comment.

About Eastday.com
-----------------

10. (SBU) Note: Eastday.com bills itself as the "most
influential and comprehensive news portal site in Shanghai."
Eastday.com was launched in May 2000 and since that time has
expanded its reach beyond Shanghai to other parts of the Yangtze
River Delta (YRD). Eastday.com includes sites in Chinese,
English, and Japanese, and it now has more than 100 news
channels, utilizing the Internet, newspaper, and mobile phones.
It is not known how many netizens use Eastday.com's services.
End Note.
CAMP

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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