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Cablegate: Olympic Disappointment in Central China As Henan On Outside

VZCZCXRO7574
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #7251/01 3320808
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280808Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3666
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2047
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4209
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 007251

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON KOLY ETRD EINV PGOV SOCI CH
SUBJECT: OLYMPIC DISAPPOINTMENT IN CENTRAL CHINA AS HENAN ON OUTSIDE
LOOKING IN

REF: BEIJING 7046

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Contacts in Henan Province said they are disappointed that
Central China has been largely excluded from the events surrounding
the 2008 Beijing Olympics even as they look forward to the Games as
a "national event" and a "showcase." One official went so far as to
say that because all of the athletic events will take place on the
coast, the Olympics will symbolically demonstrate to the world and
to the Chinese people the growing wealth gap between Central China
and the coast. At the same time, however, our contacts acknowledged
that Central China is not prepared logistically-speaking to host
events of the magnitude of the Olympics. Officials hope that Henan
will benefit from the Olympics by using the Games as a vehicle to
attract more investment and more tourists. END SUMMARY

TRAVEL TO HENAN PROVINCE
------------------------

2. (U) Emboffs traveled to Henan Province November 13-16 with stops
in Anyang, Kaifeng, and Zhengzhou. Emboffs met with officials from
the Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, Development and Reform
Commission, and Bureau of Commerce in Anyang (an industrial city)
and Kaifeng (a tourism destination), both of which are considered
"third-tier" cities in China, and exchanged views with students at
Henan University in Kaifeng. Emboffs visited Zhengzhou on November
16 to meet with Provincial level officials and talk to students at
Henan Light Industry University. Zhengzhou is a VPP city, and
photos from this trip can be found at http://zhengzhou.usvpp.gov.


OLYMPICS A "NATIONAL" EVENT
---------------------------

3. (SBU) Henan Provincial and Municipal officials as well as
university officials said they are excited about the upcoming 2008
Beijing Olympic Games as a "national" event which will be a
"showcase" for China. The Vice President of Henan University in
Kaifeng told Emboffs he is extremely happy about China hosting the
Olympics, and other provincial government officials agreed that the
Olympics are an opportunity for China. A Provincial Foreign Affairs
Officer said that children in Henan Province, as in the rest of the
country, are especially excited about the Olympics and are
collecting Olympic mascot toys and learning more about each of the
Olympic events in school.

BUT CENTRAL CHINA LARGELY LEFT OUT
----------------------------------

4. (SBU) Our contacts said, however, that they are disappointed
Central China will not host any Olympic events with all of the
Olympic venues (Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, Shenyang, Tianjin,
Qinhuangdao, and Hong Kong) on the more developed coast. One
official said the lack of events in the region will further expose
China's growing wealth gap. She lamented that the Olympics will
symbolically demonstrate to the world and to the Chinese people that
development is concentrated on China's coast while Central and
Western China are left behind. Several contacts said they
understand Henan Province does not yet have the facilities to host
an event the scale of the Olympics, but they nevertheless expressed
disappointment that Central China is left largely on the outside
looking in.

SOME HOPE FOR MORE TOURISM, INVESTMENT
--------------------------------------

5. (SBU) In Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, and Anyang, contacts uniformly said
they are hopeful that the Olympics will help attract investors and
tourists to Henan. An official at the Anyang Municipal Development
Reform Commission (DRC) said Anyang, the home of the famed Oracle
Bones, is likely to enjoy an increase in tourists before and after
the Games. DRC contacts in all three cities, however, also said
that the province does not have a specific plan to attract more
tourists on the margins of the Olympics. They are simply hopeful
that the word will get out about Henan's attractions such as the
Oracle Bones, Longmen Grottoes, and Shaolin Temple, and foreign
tourists will book separate packages to go to Henan while they are
in China.

6. (SBU) As in other cities where Olympic events will take place
such as Qingdao (reftel), Henan officials said the most substantive
benefit for the province and region will be raising the economic

BEIJING 00007251 002 OF 002


profile for prospective investors. Wei Zhiyong, Head of the Foreign
Economy Department at the Henan DRC, said that it is difficult to
predict how much added investment will reach Henan and Central China
as a direct result of the Olympics, but the province hopes there
will be more interest in investment opportunities in the region
after the Olympics have concluded.

COMMENT: OLYMPICS WILL NOT BENEFIT HENAN
-----------------------------------------

7. (SBU) With no Olympic events taking place in Henan, and without
any concrete plans to entice Olympic visitors to tourist
destinations in the province or attract new foreign investors,
provincial and municipal government officials -- despite
exhortations that the Olympics are a great national event -- are
feeling shortchanged about the upcoming Games. There is a high
likelihood that residents in Henan and other interior provinces will
feel jaded by the Olympics when faced by the obvious juxtaposition
of high profile events on the coast against a total lack of activity
in Central and Western China. Despite the government's efforts to
balance its economy through its Central China Rising and Great
Western Development policies, when it comes to the haves and
have-nots, the Olympics may further highlight the rich-poor gap
rather than alleviate it.

RANDT

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