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Cablegate: Xxxxxxxxxxxx On Leadership Issues

DE RUEHGH #0622/01 2632125
R 202125Z SEP 07


E.O. 12958: DECL: MR, X1

SHANGHAI 00000622 001.2 OF 003

CLASSIFIED BY: Simon Schuchat, Deputy Principal Officer, U.S.
Consulate, Shanghai, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (c), (d)

1. (S) Summary: According to a well-placed contact, there will not likely to be any surprises in the line-up of the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC). In part, this means that President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and National People´s Congress (NPC) Chairman Wu Bangguo will all be staying and would be joined by Liaoning Party Secretary Li Keqiang and NPC Vice Chairman Wang Zhaoguo. Vice Premier Wu Yi will step down from the Politburo while United Front Work Department head Liu Yandong, Jiangsu Party Secretary Li Yuanchao, National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) Chairman Ma Kai, and Chongqing Party Secretary Wang Yang would all likely be elevated. The real battle for control over the Politburo is taking place in the Central Committee with people positioning themselves and proteges in an effort to be elected at the Party Congress in October. While preparations for the Congress are heating up, fissures between Hu and Wen are also deepening, with Wen increasingly angry over Hu´s meddling in government affairs. End summary.

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Latest on the PBSC Lineup

2. (S) During a September 17 discussion, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that National People´s Congress (NPC) Chairman Wu Bangguo´s son-in-law told him "there will not be any surprises" on the PBSC at the Party Congress. Hu, Wen, and Wu Bangguo will all be staying on. The rest of the current line up, with the possible exception of Vice President Zeng Qinghong, will be retiring. Those remaining would be joined by Liaoning Party Secretary Li Keqiang and NPC Vice Chairman Wang Zhaoguo and, depending on Zeng, one or two others, leaving seven PBSC members.

3. (S) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, Wang will likely replace Jia Qinglin as Chairman of the Chinese People´s Political Consultative Conference. While Jia has not yet reached the "mandatory" retirement age of 68, both he and his family are vulnerable to charges of corruption. Hu has ordered an ongoing investigation into the misdeeds of Jia´s family, leading Jia´s son-in-law to flee China. Hu has already approached Jia with a deal: if Jia retires quietly, the investigation goes away quietly; a deal Jia has apparently accepted. Meanwhile, propaganda chief Li Changchun is going to be relieved from duty for "health reasons" stemming from a previous bout of liver cancer, although XXXXXXXXXXXX said this is now simply a "political illness."

Politburo Rumors

4. (S) In addition to PBSC changes, XXXXXXXXXXXX discussed a number of changes likely to occur on the Politburo. Vice Premier Wu Yi will step down due to age. XXXXXXXXXXXX stated it will be impossible for a Politburo or PBSC member to step down from their government job but maintain their party slot, effectively contradicting rumors that Wu might be able to retire as Vice Premier but still remain to direct trade issues from a seat on the Politburo. Liu Yandong is currently the woman being considered to fill the "female" slot on the Politburo--although not necessarily Wu´s substantive portfolio--should the top leadership decide that such a slot is still needed. The military will be guaranteed at least two slots on the new Politburo: one for the Defense Minister; and one for the Chief of Staff. However, the practice of having a uniformed officer sitting on the PBSC had died years ago and XXXXXXXXXXXX did not believe that it will ever be revived.

5. (S) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, Jiangsu Party Secretary Li Yuanchao, a Hu protege, will likely be promoted to the Politburo, probably as head of the Organization Department which controls cadre evaluation and recommendations for promotions. XXXXXXXXXXXX noticed an indirect shift in attitude toward Li beginning several months ago when rumors of Li´s pending promotion to the Organization Department began surfacing. For instance, National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) Vice Chairman Zhang Guobao had initially been vehemently opposed to the Carlyle Group´s acquisition of Xugong Machinery Corporation in Jiangsu Province--a deal on which Li has personally staked much of his political reputation. However, several months ago, Zhang made an abrupt about face on the issue, saying that of course he supports the deal; he only wants to help fine tune it. As an aside, XXXXXXXXXXXX said he does not expect any movement on the Xugong deal before the Party Congress and expects that Carlyle will still have to "sweeten the deal" a bit to allow the NDRC to save face after opposing the deal for so long.

6. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that Premier Wen is also hoping to name his own successor to safeguard his policy and family interests. NDRC Chairman Ma Kai, a Wen protigi, will likely be elevated to the Politburo at the Party Congress, taking over the State Council´s industry portfolio as a vice premier from Zeng Peiyan, who will be retiring. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that there is a tradition that the head of the top planning organization be promoted to that particular vice premier slot. However, XXXXXXXXXXXX assessed that Ma is too old to be promoted to Premier at the 2013 NPC. Wen is actually grooming Chongqing Party Secretary Wang Yang for the job and is lobbying to also have Wang promoted to Vice Premier with a seat on the Politburo. Barring that, Wang will likely be promoted to State Council Secretary General.
Central Committee Campaigning

7. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX said that there will probably be more candidates than slots for the Central Committee, the Politburo, and the PBSC. However, the PBSC will be selected ahead of time so there is no real democracy involved, despite a show of "elections." The real focus now is getting proteges placed on the Central Committee, a chore that is far from being a done deal and one that will determine which people´s proteges will be promoted to the Politburo. Hu Jintao is positioning several of his proteges through recent personnel changes in the provinces and ministries to be in line to be elected to the Central Committee. Even still, these candidates and others still need to campaign to try to gain favor in the eyes of the Party Congress delegates. This is especially important for people who lack name recognition, a strong personal network, or people behind the scenes speaking on their behalf.

8. (S) For instance, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai has been traveling to many different provinces recently, using his Ministry´s largess to attempt to purchase favor with local governments. Bo is in a difficult position. Since his father, party elder Bo Yibo died, there is no one speaking up for Bo Xilai at internal party meetings. To make matter worse, Bo Xilai has many enemies who hated his father for helping oust various reformers such as Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziyang, and Qiao Shi. XXXXXXXXXXXX joked that Bo Yibo "died about six months too soon" for his son´s liking. (Note: Bo Yibo died on January 15, 2007. End note.) Bo Xilai hopes that if he can garner a high enough percentage of votes at the Party Congress electing him to the Central Committee, it might boost his chances at getting on the PBSC.

Wen Chaffing Under Hu

9. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Hu and Wen "don´t really get along at all." He noted that Hu is frequently meddling in State Council affairs, which causes Wen all sorts of grief. XXXXXXXXXXXX was less definitive, however, if there is also a rift between the two men on policy preferences, or if their strife stems mostly from turf battles.

10. (S) The divide between the two men has likely been deepened by Wen´s conflict with Hu protege Li Yuanchao. At Wen´s behest, Ma Kai had personally overseen the dismantling of Tieban Steel, a large privately run steel mill in Jiangsu Province set up with the encouragement of provincial officials and without State Council approval. As part of Wen´s effort to rein-in rampant economic growth in the coastal provinces, Ma made a public example of the head of Tieban, Dai Guofang, who was arrested and continues to languish in prison after three years, despite never having been charged with a crime. Despite the fact that investigators could not come up with a crime with which to charge Dai, no one dares to release him from prison for fear that Premier Wen might ask about his status and get angry at whoever authorized Dai´s release. The incident has also generated considerable "bad blood" between Li and Ma, XXXXXXXXXXXX said.

Wen Jiabao: Chain of Fools

11. (S) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, Wen´s family is a major political headache for the Premier. His wife, Zhang Beili, is heavily involved in China´s diamond trade and was one of the top officials at the diamond trading firm Daimengde. Although she gave up her title after Wen became Premier, it was a change in name only and she is still very influential in the industry. (Note: Zhang is a gemologist by training. End note.) Wen´s daughter, Wen Ruchun, has been working for Credit Suisse First Boston in Beijing for about a year and his son, Wen Yunsong, runs an investment fund. Wen´s wife and children all have a reputation as people who can "get things done" for the right price. Although they did not necessarily take bribes, per se, they are amenable to receiving exorbitant "consulting fees" or selling inferior diamonds at a significant mark-up. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that at one point it had been suggested to him that XXXXXXXXXXXX seek help from Wen´s son to resolve XXXXXXXXXXXX had refused.

12. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Wen is disgusted with his family´s activities, but is either unable or unwilling to curtail them. He particularly dislikes his wife for her brazenness in trading on his name. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that unlike almost every other PBSC member, Wen refuses to take his wife with him on official trips abroad. Wen would like to get a divorce but is constrained by the prominence of his position.

Hu´s Family: Clean but Divided

13. (S) In contrast, Hu´s family is relatively clean, said XXXXXXXXXXXX. Hu´s son, Hu Haifeng, works for Nuctech, a state owned company. While Haifeng is compensated handsomely for his work, the company´s profits go towards filling state coffers rather than the pockets of Hu´s family, leaving Haifeng above reproach. The one main area of familial dischord, however, is the marriage of Hu´s daughter, Hu Haiqing. Haiqing is married to Daniel Mao (Daolin), a wealthy internet entrepreneur and founder and former CEO of sina.com. Daniel is almost 10 years older than Haiqing and looks every bit the part of a paunchy, middle-aged, balding man. Neither Hu Jintao nor his wife approved of the marriage and were even less pleased with the large amount of publicity that the couple´s nuptials garnered. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Daniel is currently unemployed after having been let go from sina.com.

Sleeping With the Enemy

14. (S) On a more salacious note, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that former Finance Minister Jin Renqing´s mistress--the reason that he had been fired from his job--had been introduced to Jin by former SINOPEC Chairman Chen Tonghai, who had also been sleeping with her. The promiscuous socialite had also been having affairs with several other high-level officials, including Sichuan Party Secretary and former Agricultural Minister Du Qinglin. The woman had been introduced to these men as "someone working with a Chinese military intelligence department." However, investigators now believe she is a Taiwan intelligence operative. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Wu Bangguo´s son-in-law had been introduced to this woman at a social function and described her as anything but pulchritudinous. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that Chen Tonghai is close to both party elder Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong.

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