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Cablegate: Ambassador Attends Symposium Comparing U.S., Chinese

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INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0448
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RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0374
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0373
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RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0050
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0014
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC 0239
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC 0057
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC 0061
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC 0056

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 GUANGZHOU 000049

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON SOCI PREL CH
SUBJECT: Ambassador Attends Symposium Comparing U.S., Chinese
Governments

REF A: 09 GUANGZHOU 701; B: GUANGZHOU 44

GUANGZHOU 00000049 001.4 OF 003


This report is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (U) Summary: Ambassador Huntsman addressed representatives from
the Counselor's Office of the State Council of China and the
Kissinger Institute at a January 20-22 symposium on similarities and
differences between U.S. and Chinese government systems. Speakers
from both sides gave comparative views of government structures and
reforms, anticorruption efforts, crisis response and the budget
process. Chinese speakers highlighted corruption and accountability
of government officials as challenges. After the departure of the
Ambassador and the Consul General, the symposium, which was held in
Sanya, Hainan, moved to Shenzhen, Guangdong, to hear from local
leaders about the city's role as a laboratory for government
reforms. (See Ref A.) End summary.

High Expectations
-----------------

2. (SBU) Drawing on his experience as Utah State Governor,
Ambassador Huntsman described the complicated relationship between
U.S. federal and state governments January 20 to members of the
Counselor's Office of the State Council of China -- an advisory body
and self-styled think tank responsible for considering issues of
national importance. Noting that part of the symposium would be
devoted to issues of government crisis response, the Ambassador
highlighted his point by saying that while a U.S. state could count
on Federal assistance in the event of a disaster, that assistance
literally came with a high price tag. Following the Ambassador's
remarks, Counselor's Office Director General and Chairman Chen Jinyu
said that the Chinese side had high expectations for the
Ambassador's contribution to U.S.-China relations during his term.


National-Level Reforms: Six Down, More to Come
----------------------- ----------------------

3. (SBU) Wang Lanming, Chair of the Public Administration Society
and former Director General of the Central Government Rightsizing
Office reviewed the Chinese Central Government's six restructuring
reforms over the past 30 years, which took place in 1982, 1988,
1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008. Wang characterized the trend of reform
as government loosening its direct control of and participation in
economic issues while focusing on providing better public goods and
services. Wang predicted that future reforms would focus on
streamlining and coordinating the functions of the
"super-ministries" produced by the most recent reforms.

4. (SBU) One important element of any new reforms would be assessing
their effectiveness, said Wang, who noted that reforms spanned all
levels of government. Wang explained that some reforms -- such as
those emphasizing rule of law, transparency, impartiality, fairness
and accountability -- reflected ongoing legal and social
development. Some reforms, on the other hand, came in response to
specific incidents, such as the separation and upgrading of the
Production Safety Supervision Agency following a spate of coal mine
accidents. Wang said that recent reforms seek to hold government
agencies accountable for the use of their authority through
strengthened supervision by auditing and anticorruption agencies.

Anticorruption Efforts still Unsatisfactory
-------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The Chinese Government is "determined" to solve the
pervasive problem of official corruption, averred Counselor Qiao
Zhonghuai, a former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs responsible for
anticorruption in the Foreign Ministry. Echoing some of Wang's
remarks, Qiao said the government is now focusing on clarifying
officials' duties and associated penalties for nonperformance,

GUANGZHOU 00000049 002.2 OF 003


applying a new practice of circuit inspection, collecting
information from the public and examining the experiences of other
countries for ideas. Qiao said the corruption problem would remain
a long-term and serious challenge for China and that the
government's performance in this regard remains unsatisfactory.

6. (SBU) Qiao said that variations in the wealth of China's regions
made it problematic to set a country-wide standard for
differentiating between gifts and graft. When former Embassy
Beijing Legal Attache Ira Belkin noted that the U.S. standard for
giving and accepting gifts was to avoid even the appearance of
impropriety, a number of representatives from the Chinese side
thought such an ideal admirable but also in conflict with China's
deep-seated traditional culture of gift-giving.

Crisis Response
---------------

7. (SBU) Former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Michael
Jackson observed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),
with its conglomeration of old and new government entities, was a
U.S. example of a "super-ministry." Jackson's presentation on the
mission, creation, and development of DHS prompted Chairman Chen to
inquire how quickly threat information could travel through the
reporting chain from DHS to the President's office. (The answer:
very quickly.) A councilor also asked Jackson how DHS handles
internal conflicts between subordinate agencies. Jackson explained
how officials at all levels tried to work through disagreements at
the lowest possible level, but that an issue could rise, even to the
President.

8. (SBU) In a presentation on the relationship between China's
central and local governments when responding to a national
emergency situation, Counselor Shan Chunchang said that gradual
decentralization of administrative authority had worked well in the
economic sector, but that such a model was not appropriate for
responding to crises. Shan commented that the Chinese Government
viewed its experiences with SARS and the Sichuan earthquake as
evidence that control of national-level emergency resources should
remain centralized. The Chinese side also specifically cited the
USG's botched handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster as another
argument for centralization.

Chinese Financial Data "Should now be Reliable"
--------------------------------------------- --

9. (SBU) The Chinese government has been tightening its control over
its agencies' budgets, especially by centralizing the management of
their bank accounts for incomes and expenditures, according to
Counselor Feng Xiuhua. Feng said that the government would
increasingly scrutinize the efficient use of funds and subject
departments to increased supervision from the People's Congresses.
Feng said that, in restructuring its budgetary system, the Chinese
government had made heavy reference to the design of America's
budget, particularly with regard to the management of incomes,
expenditures and transfer payments. When former Ambassador to China
Stapleton Roy asked about the reliability of Chinese official
financial data, Feng acknowledged that the Chinese numbers used to
have quality problems. However, as a result of strengthened
government control of data reporting, the data should now be
reliable, he said. (Note: The conference decamped to Shenzhen
January 21-22 for a case study on Shenzhen's reforms. End note.)

Shenzhen
--------

10. (SBU) In Shenzhen, Mayor Wang Rong said his biggest challenge
was to make Shenzhen once again the model for China's administrative
reforms. Shenzhen Executive Vice Mayor Li Feng and Deputy Secretary
General Nan Ling told the symposium participants that the city's
most recent reforms clearly defined the government's major functions

GUANGZHOU 00000049 003.2 OF 003


as public service, market supervision and social administration.
Moreover, Shenzhen's reforms would consolidate agencies with similar
administrative mandates into a smaller number of more efficient
agencies; consolidate market supervision functions previously shared
by various agencies; and separate authority for policy making,
executive and supervisory powers into different organizations.
Chairman Chen said that informal research by a number of counselors
indicated that the reforms had already shown some positive results,
such as improved efficiency in dealing with sensitive land use
issues, and that Shenzhen's experience gave him confidence in the
future of China's reforms.

Utah-Trained Officials
----------------------

11. (U) While in Sanya, the Ambassador also met with Hainan
government officials who had studied in Utah. The 10 officials
studied at the University of Utah's school of public administration
during the Ambassador's term as governor. All of the Utah-trained
officials demonstrated their English proficiency and discussed how
the Utah program had benefitted their careers. The Ambassador also
visited the Nanshan Buddhist Cultural Park before departing Sanya
for the next leg of his trip in Xiamen, Fujian (ref B).

12. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Beijing.

GOLDBECK

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