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Cablegate: Sw China Mayor Discusses Impact of Earthquake Reconstruction

VZCZCXRO5088
PP RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHCN #0320/01 3581143
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241143Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL CHENGDU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3659
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 4378

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CHENGDU 000320

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/CM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EIND ELTN EWWT ENRG SENV PGOV CH
SUBJECT: SW CHINA MAYOR DISCUSSES IMPACT OF EARTHQUAKE RECONSTRUCTION
AND INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT; "GREENING" OF PARTY CADRES AND
ECONOMY; CITIZEN PETITIONS

REF: CHENGDU 310

CHENGDU 00000320 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) This cable contains sensitive but unclassified
information - not for distribution on the Internet.

2. (SBU) Summary: Leshan Mayor Jiang Fuyi told Consul General
December 8 that demand for construction materials for earthquake
reconstruction boosted the city's GDP to seventh place among
Sichuan cities. Jiang said that fixed asset investment,
including highway and river projects, will better integrate
Leshan with Chengdu to the north, and a port city on the Yangtze
River to the south. Environmental protection is increasingly
heavily weighted in officials' annual, point-based personnel
evaluations. To green itself, the city has been closing down
smaller cement factories and coal mines. Leshan plans to build
a nuclear power plant. Jiang also said that he personally meets
every Wednesday with petitioners who come to express grievances.
End Summary.

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Earthquake Reconstruction and

Fixed Asset Investment Key to Rapid Growth

------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Mayor Jiang told CG December 8 that Leshan had the
seventh highest GDP of any city in Sichuan, an accomplishment
that he credited to demand for the city's products to rebuild
areas damaged during the May 2008 earthquake. The city is an
important center for the production of construction materials,
Jiang explained. Leshan's GDP, which also includes the tourist
city of Emeishan, reached about 8.1 billion USD last year and
may increase about 15% to more than 9 billion USD in 2009.
Jiang predicted more moderate growth after earthquake rebuilding
ends.

4. (SBU) Large fixed asset investment was another important
factor contributing to Leshan's rapid economic growth. Jiang
noted that Leshan was investing 150 billion RMB (about 22
billion USD) over an unspecified time-frame to improve
transportation infrastructure including the Leshan-Yibin
Expressway, the Min River (Minjiang) navigation and power
development project (reftel), the Leshan-Chengdu-Mianyang
Expressway, a rail line to Guizhou, and a highway to Ya'an.
(Note: Total fixed asset investment in Leshan reached 3.7
billion USD in 2008, a 25 percent annual increase, according to
the 2009 Sichuan Statistical Yearbook. End Note.)

Environmental Protection Factored into New Cadre Evaluation
System; Party/Management Education Required for Senior Officials

--------------------------------------------- -------------------

5. (SBU) Leadership at all levels of the Party and government
need to treat environmental protection as a serious issue, said
Jiang. Success in environmental protection was a relatively new
and increasingly heavily weighted factor in the point system
used nationwide in annual, year-end evaluations of senior party
cadres, Jiang noted. A few years ago, environmental protection
was not included in the point system at all, he explained.
Jiang said that senior officials are required every five years
to take a half-year-long educational course at the Central or
Provincial Party School. National-level policies -- including
those related to environmental protection -- are taught at the
Party schools. China also runs administrative schools that
train government officials in various management topics. These
shorter term courses, according to Jiang, typically last from
one week to one month.

Looking Forward to a Greener Future: Closure of Cement Plants,
Coal Mines; Water and Waste Treatment; Nuclear Power Plant

--------------------------------------------- -----------------

CHENGDU 00000320 002.2 OF 002

6. (SBU) Leshan seeks to become a more environmentally friendly
city in part by improving manufacturing efficiency. The mayor
noted that 30 small cement plants -- big producers of
green-house gases -- were closed this year. The city also
ordered the closure of small coal mines producing less than
50,000 tons of coal annually. Leshan has also added waste water
treatment facilities. The city of Leshan has three treatment
plants, and each county under the city's jurisdiction has one
plant. Leshan has also built an unspecified number of garbage
processing facilities. (Note: Official statistics often broadly
define Leshan as including four districts, six counties, and the
city of Emeishan. End Note.)

7. (SBU) In response to CG's question, the mayor confirmed local
press reports that said Leshan officials planned to build a
nuclear power plant in the greater city area. Jiang noted that
the city had suitable locations near a river where the power
plant could be constructed, but a "final decision" to move
forward with a nuclear plant had not yet been made. A press
report that originally appeared in Chengdu's "Huaxi Dushibao"
newspaper said that Leshan had signed in July 2009 a framework
agreement with China National Nuclear Corporation for the
planned construction a five gigawatt nuclear power plant for an
estimated 12 billion USD. (Note: Leshan already has at least
one nuclear reactor, although it is not a commercial power
plant. The Leshan Nuclear Power Institute of China currently
operates a 125 megawatt High-Flux Engineering Test Reactor
(HFETR) in Leshan's Jiajiang County. In 2007, this reactor was
converted from using highly-enriched uranium fuel to using
low-enriched uranium, according to a report from the World
Nuclear Association. End Note.)

Mayor Listens to Petitioners, Addresses Reasonable Requests

--------------------------------------------- --------------

8. (SBU) Jiang said that governments from the community level
all the way up to the national level had offices charged with
managing the civil petition system, a system under which
citizens can directly address grievances to government
officials. The mayor said that he personally met every
Wednesday with petitioners to hear their grievances, although he
conceded that on any given week there were generally only a
couple of petitioners. He said that even when petitioners
raised issues that were not legal matters, he would still try to
find a way to address them, if the requests were reasonable. He
did not provide any examples of requests.
BROWN

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