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Cablegate: Positive Media Reaction in Guilin and Liuzhou

VZCZCXRO6225
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGZ #0085/01 0490008
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180008Z FEB 10
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1392
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0472
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1145
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0411
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0402
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0401
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0468
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0344
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 0086
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0012
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0008
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC 0252
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0440
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC 0436
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC 0131

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000085

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM, EAP/PD, EAP/TC, INR/EAP, S/P

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PREL PGOV SOCI SCUL OPRC ECON CH TW
SUBJECT: POSITIVE MEDIA REACTION IN GUILIN AND LIUZHOU

REF: A) GUANGZHOU 75, B) GUANGZHOU 76, C) 09 GUANGZHOU 707

GUANGZHOU 00000085 001.2 OF 002


(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly. Not for release outside U.S. government channels. Not
for internet publication.

1. (SBU) Summary: Consul General Goldbeck's February 1-3 visit to
Guilin and Liuzhou garnered unprecedented media coverage for a
Consulate Guangzhou event outside of Guangzhou city. The positive
media coverage from over 100 outlets reached over 700 million people
in and outside of China (ref A). This phenomenon was due to a
strategy of targeted press invitations and press releases
emphasizing mutual understanding and civil society. However,
success also represents good fortune on the timing and location of
this particular trip. Pictures of the CG at the Guilin Flying
Tigers airfield, and exclusive sound bytes extolling NGOs and
friendship, were well timed and well received given recent reaction
in China about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. End summary.

Breaking Records
----------------

2. (SBU) Beside "700 Million Served," this trip also set several
U.S. Consulate and VPP Nanning media "firsts" for the Guangxi
region. This was the first time in the Guangxi region that we
succeeded with: A) Media covering an NGO meeting (which also
garnered an additional online photo spread story); B) Giving a media
availability at an NGO; C) Publishing results of a separate media
interview of the CG; and D) All major Chinese online media plus
People's Daily news wire picking up a Consulate press release (on
Guilin).

3. (SBU) Consulate VPP trips regularly garner some Chinese media
coverage, but we are rarely allowed the freedom of operation to
successfully arrange any of our own press. This time, coverage led
by China News (CN) after an exclusive with the CG ran on the Xinhua
wire, in People's Daily, in China Daily and on China's five most
influential websites. Coverage was published not only in mainland
China but also in Chinese language sources in Hong Kong, Taiwan,
Thailand, Australia and the United States.

Good News, Mutual Understanding Welcome in Guilin and Liuzhou...
------------------------------- --------------------------------

4. (SBU) Most of the coverage focused on the Consul General's visit
to and remarks about the Flying Tigers Heritage Park, related
US-China historical connections and IPR cooperation possibilities
(ref A). In Guilin, the Consulate delegation was able to thank
authorities for their cooperation in prosecuting IPR offenders (ref
B).

5. (SBU) Coverage was led by China News (CN), which was present at
events in Guilin and Liuzhou, and which enjoyed exclusive coverage
of the CG's visit to the NGO Xingyu center for autism in Liuzhou.
CN's coverage of American concern for autistic kids, in conjunction
with coverage of the CG answering a question posed later about U.S.
arms sales to Taiwan, attracted interest in the international
Chinese community.

6. (SBU) The Guilin and Liuzhou Foreign Affairs Offices were
unusually friendly toward the Consulate delegation. Besides the
natural charm of those areas, Guilin and Liuzhou enjoy more positive
shared history with the United States than do many other areas.
Many municipal and Party leaders in these cities have direct
experience with American tourists and in the United States, and in
fact some have children studying in U.S. schools. Guilin entertains
60,000 American tourists a year and wants to increase this share of
its 1.2 million annual foreign tourists and 6 million total annual
tourists. Liuzhou's active Sister City relationship with
Cincinnati, Ohio means they enjoy significant ongoing
people-to-people contact with Americans, and reap economic and
cultural benefits (ref A). These ties and their important economic
benefits help explain the positive reception the CG received in
these locations.

GUANGZHOU 00000085 002.2 OF 002

7. (SBU) While Post deliberately planned the Flying Tigers trip to
highlight positives, the depth of mutual feeling among the
delegations at the Guilin Museum and at the Flying Tigers site was
remarkable. Local officials building the new Flying Tigers memorial
expressed genuine admiration for the United States, and they had no
idea that Americans such as CG and VPP Nanning officer actually grew
up reading, hearing, watching and admiring Flying Tigers stories.
In Guilin, people-to-people contacts are longstanding and widely
recognized for the value they bring to the local community.

...And Less Welcome Elsewhere
-----------------------------

8. (SBU) In contrast to the unusually good news from Guilin and
Liuzhou, other recent Consulate Guangzhou / VPP Nanning trips have
worked on ties in the Guangxi region but encountered limitations.
For instance, the Guangxi capital of Nanning is a political center
keen to develop its ties to ASEAN countries and proud of Nanning's
cultural achievements in setting up Confucius Centers in several
neighboring countries. While Guangxi Normal University (Guilin)
recently expressed hope they can obtain an American Corner, Guangxi
Nationalities University (Nanning) was very defensive about the same
subject earlier (ref C). Comment: It's likely that trends in the
bilateral relationship have more direct impact on our dealings with
local officials in the regional capital, with its heightened
sensitivity to political appearances. End comment.

Press Strategy and Limitations: In Guangxi, Use National Outlets
------------------------------- --------------------------------

9. (SBU) Virtual Presence Post (VPP) Nanning has learned that local
Foreign Affairs Offices (FAOs) in the Guangxi region are very
reticent to allow local media coverage of the Consul General and
Consulate events. Therefore, to avoid local media being "uninvited"
by FAOs after Post invites them, Post now coordinates with FAO to
ask "advice" whether we can invite media. We do not invite local
media if FAO opposes it. In practice, FAOs often cancel local media
even if they tell Post it is alright. However, Post has learned in
trips to Beihai (ref C) and now to Guilin and Liuzhou that local
outlets of national media are generally happy to attend U.S. public
diplomacy events and media availabilities. Thus, local outlets of
Chinese national media are the keys to coverage in Guangxi for now.

10. (SBU) What was different in Guilin and Liuzhou is that the
national media's local outlet actually was allowed to publish its
story garnered from our invitation and availability, rather than
having such content redacted and publishing only a flat
government-issued summary. (Censorship kept out any news of Post
giving a press availability in Beihai in December 2009.)
Paradoxically the CG's visit to Guilin and Liuzhou has become a
national and international story, but few of Guangxi's regional
media tracked coverage, except for Guangxi News Wire and Liuzhou
News Wire republishing the China News story. Media inside Guilin
and Liuzhou used their own government-guided releases, not the
Consulate's.

11. (SBU) Comment: Part of the widespread and positive coverage
about the Guilin and Liuzhou trip was due to concern about bilateral
frictions over Taiwan, and China News' interpretation that the CG's
trip represented "top leaders working to restore relations" in the
immediate aftermath of those bilateral frictions. Ironically, on
the Taiwan connection to the CG's trip, media coverage and elite
attention was more positive than popular blogger reaction in
mainland China, much of which professed to remain suspicious. Some
of the negative response may have come from "bloggers" who are paid
to reproduce PRC-friendly comments. End Comment.

JACOBSEN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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