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Cablegate: Pearl River Flotsam and Jetsam, September 5, 2007

VZCZCXRO8083
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0997/01 2480256
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050256Z SEP 07
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6431
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASH DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000997

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EAIR ECON PINR EFIN PGOV CH
SUBJECT: Pearl River Flotsam and Jetsam, September 5, 2007


(U) THIS DOCUMENT IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. IT SHOULD NOT BE
DISSEMINATED OUTSIDE U.S. GOVERNMENT CHANNELS OR IN ANY PUBLIC FORUM
WITHOUT THE WRITTEN CONCURRENCE OF THE ORIGINATOR. IT SHOULD NOT BE
POSTED ON THE INTERNET.

1. (U) SUMMARY: This is the second in a series of periodic cables
that will feature snapshots of the Guangzhou consular district.
Highlights of this installment include: official anger and apathy
over food and product safety; an ambitious labor lawyer; an
anniversary for China Southern Airlines; Party and government
personnel changes; a crackdown on underground money shops; a
vanishing debate about public funds; more cars for Guangzhou; and
more toilets for Shenzhen. END SUMMARY

Guangzhou Vice Mayor Scolds Officials on Product Safety
--------------------------------------------- ----------

2. (U) New Guangzhou Vice Mayor Cao Jianliao harshly criticized some
municipal districts for sending only low-level representatives to
attend a city-sponsored conference on food safety and product
quality, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily. The organizers
of the August 20 conference, which was attended by the mayor and all
vice mayors, had requested that leaders of municipal districts all
attend, but many sent only staff members on their behalf.

3. (U) Cao said, "[The situation at the conference] shows that those
districts' government leaders are not taking food safety issues
seriously. If district leaders aren't serious about it, how can you
ask leaders of streets and neighborhoods to care about it?" Cao
also alluded to corruption at the local level being a problem,
saying that without the protection of "relevant personnel" in the
streets and neighborhoods, "[producers and sellers of fake goods]
would have no place to hide."

Workers' Rights Lawyer Hopes to Publish his Case Files
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (SBU) Self-educated lawyer Zhou Litai told Congenoff that he had
preliminary plans to organize and publish his archives, which
document more than 7,000 lawsuits. Zhou said these files, which
encompass cases from every part of China except Tibet, truly
reflected the history of China's migrant workers. He envisions them
serving as valuable primary source materials for individuals
researching China's labor situation. However, limited financial
resources could delay publication of the files.

5. (SBU) Zhou, whose license to practice law was revoked in 2002 (an
incident cited in that year's Human Rights Report), said that most
of his cases involved demanding compensation for workplace injuries,
recovering unpaid wages, or compelling employers to pay for workers'
pensions and medical insurance. The Zhou Litai Law Firm is
headquartered in Chongqing with a branch office in Shenzhen, and
will soon open an additional branch in the Wanzhou district of
Chongqing.

China Southern Toasts its Past
------------------------------

6. (SBU) The China Southern commemoration of the tenth anniversary
of the airline's first B777 trans-Pacific flight (with GE engines)
was a lively affair, filled with reminiscences and -- of all things
-- comments about how the airline would likely not be the ninth
largest in the world today were it not for that historic event. The
reminiscences were provided by the primary pilot of that first
flight, current Minister of Civil Aviation Yang Yuanyuan, who
interestingly enough kept using one of Deng Xiaoping's favorite
expressions ("seek truth from facts") and went on to speak in
glowing terms about the impact of "reform and opening" on aviation.


7. (SBU) In a separate discussion with the Consul General, Minister
Yang affirmed again that the time had not yet come for open skies in
passenger flight; the U.S. side, the Minister said without
elaboration, understood the reasons why. The Minister also said
that CAAC was continuing to work to expand the amount of airspace
controlled by civil authorities, though he noted that his many
friends in the military also had continuing reservations about
ceding control.

Promotions and Transfers
------------------------

8. (SBU) Former Guangzhou Vice Mayor Wang Xiaoling was promoted this
month to the position of Director-General of the Propaganda
Department of the Guangzhou Communist Party. Ms. Wang, who was born
in Shandong province in July 1955, joined the Communist Party in
August 1978. She rose quickly through the ranks of the Guangzhou
Administration of Industry and Commerce Development Zone Bureau

GUANGZHOU 00000997 002 OF 002


(1990-1994) and the Free Trade Zone Bureau of Guangzhou
Administration of Industry and Commerce (1994-1998). Following
municipal-level Party assignments in 1998 and 2001, Wang was
appointed one of Guangzhou's eight vice mayors in 2003. Wang's
replacement as vice mayor is Cao Jianliao. (See paragraph 2, above.)


Eastern Union
-------------

9. (U) According to media reports, Police in Shenzhen and the State
Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) Shenzhen branch conducted
a joint operation in early August to expose a network of
"underground money shops," which provide a channel for transferring
large amounts of money while circumventing the international banking
system and national tax bureaus. Police arrested six suspects on
the spot and froze 55 bank accounts totaling RMB 4.2 million. The
illegal foreign exchange trading network covered 31 provinces in
China, with major clients in Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang
provinces.

The Debate is Over -- Or Has at Least Disappeared
--------------------------------------------- ----

10. (U) An internet posting which sparked spirited public debate
over the appropriate use of public funds has been removed, the
Consulate discovered August 7. All that is left of the debate,
which examined whether the Guangdong Provincial Government should be
paying for wealthy Cantonese entrepreneurs to attend the Central
Party School, is an early August report by the government-controlled
Nanfang Daily. The article stated that some "netizens" questioned
the necessity and value of paying training costs for the young and
elite entrepreneurs, many of whom are billionaires. Supporters of
the program argued, however, that the government was wise to
showcase the traditional innovation and independence of Cantonese
businessmen to the politically conservative Party school, according
to the Nanfang Daily. One wealthy anonymous entrepreneur cited by
the paper said he was accustomed to being used by the government as
an "ATM machine" for charity, disaster relief, or poverty abatement
programs, and he was surprised that he was not required to pay to
attend the Central Party School.

Guangzhou: Too Many Cars! Shenzhen: Too Few Toilets!
--------------------------------------------- -------

11. (U) A Honda Accord sedan became Guangzhou's 1 millionth licensed
car on August 15, signifying that one in ten Guangzhou residents is
now a car owner. With more than 600 automobiles licensed in the
city every day, experts estimate that in 5 to 7 years Guangzhou will
have two million cars on the road. Vice Mayor Gan Xin declared that
Guangzhou would not restrict the issuance of car licenses, but
offered no solutions to the problems of parking shortages, heavy
pollution, or traffic jams.

12. (U) The same day, the City Management Bureau of Shenzhen
announced that the city would build 375 new public toilets over the
next three years, an increase of 25 percent over current numbers.
Almost no new public toilets have been built in Shenzhen since
1995.


JACOBSEN

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