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Cablegate: Seeking Shen Hao: Fact-Checking Anhui's Model Rural Cadre

VZCZCXRO0287
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGH #0045/01 0410842
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100842Z FEB 10
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8544
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 3306
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2395
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0852
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 2567
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 2386
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 2187
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0130
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 0176
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0680
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0891
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHFR/USMISSION OECD PARIS FR
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 9211

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SHANGHAI 000045

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

TREASURY FOR OASIA/INA DOHNER/HAARSAGER/WINSHIP
DEPT FOR EAP/CM, INR
USDOC PASS BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
USDOC FOR ITA DAS KASOFF, MELCHER, OCEA
STATE PASS USTR FOR STRATFORD, WINTER, KATZ
NSC FOR LOI
MANILA FOR USADB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON CH
SUBJECT: SEEKING SHEN HAO: FACT-CHECKING ANHUI'S MODEL RURAL CADRE

REF: SHANGHAI 42

(U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified and for official
use only. Not for distribution outside of USG channels or via
the internet.

Summary

-------

1. (SBU) Eager to promote the model of selfless party cadre,
Chinese media recently launched an extensive campaign to emulate
Shen Hao, Communist Party secretary of a village in eastern
Anhui closely tied to the beginnings of China's rural economic
reforms three decades ago. Although Shen, who died of a heart
attack at age 45, is being praised as a "moral model," contacts
in Anhui indicated Shen's success in securing government
resources for his village was the real factor that brought him
to national attention. Several observers speculated that the
burden of official entertainment to support his development
agenda contributed to Shen's early death. End Summary.

2. (SBU) During a January 27-28 visit to the Anhui provincial
capital of Hefei, CongenOffs asked contacts to share their views
on Shen Hao, the local cadre in eastern Anhui praised
extensively by national media for "selfless service" following
his death in November 2009.

Xiaogang Village's Special Place in Chinese History

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

3. (SBU) Shen was Party Secretary of Xiaogang Village in Central
China's Anhui Province, a hamlet extolled as the launching point
for China's first set of rural economic reforms in 1978.
Farmers in Xiaogang initiated the "household contract
responsibility system" that moved China away from collective
agriculture and established the foundation for China's current
system of household-based agriculture. Communist Party General
Secretary Hu Jintao, a native of Anhui Province, visited
Xiaogang in September 2008 to commemorate the 30th anniversary
of the contract responsibility system and to explain his land
reform agenda in advance of that fall's Central Committee
plenary session, which focused on the rural economy. During
Hu's visit, Xiaogang Party Secretary Shen Hao reportedly stated
that the village was preparing to lead a new round of reforms.

Shen Hao: The Model Cadre

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

4. (SBU) Two months after Shen's death from a heart attack on
November 6, 2009, government-controlled media launched a
campaign in mid-January featuring tearful retrospectives lauding
Shen's efforts to improve livelihoods during his six-year tenure
in Xiaogang. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping described Shen
as a "modern Communist Party village cadre," posthumously

SHANGHAI 00000045 002 OF 003


honoring Shen on January 13 with the title of "national
outstanding Communist Party member" and calling him "the
people's civil servant." National media reported that Shen's
work to build infrastructure and improve housing had led to a
near three-fold increase in average income from RMB 2300 to RMB
6600 per capita during his tenure.

Widespread Admiration for "Selfless Servant"

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

5. (SBU) Many netizens voiced widespread admiration for Shen,
writing in their blogs that the village chief died "in the line
of duty" and should be recognized as a "hero." Anhui University
professor Zhang Deyuan told CongenOffs on January 28 that Shen
was a "moral model" in a political system sorely lacking in
examples of virtue. Provincial government officials also
praised Shen's work. Anhui Human Resources and Social Security
Bureau Policy and Legislative Division Director Peng Jiahai said
Shen "epitomized the principle to work for the people."
Specifically, Shen's efforts to coordinate rural and urban
development in an important area for agricultural production
deserved accolades, stated Anhui Provincial Development and
Reform Commission Comprehensive Economy Department Director Guo
Hao.

Economic Development Key to Shen's Success

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

6. (SBU) Contacts agreed, however, that Shen's economic success
was the primary reason for the national adulation. Professor
Zhang Deyuan stated emphatically that Shen Hao's economic record
in Xiaogang was far more important than his "values." Shen, who
previously worked for the Anhui Provincial Finance Bureau, used
his network of contacts in Hefei to support his efforts in
Xiaogang, according to Anhui Academy of Social Sciences
researcher Lu Liansheng. For example, Lu said, Shen
successfully applied for a RMB 8 million (approximately USD 1.18
million) special development fund for the village and helped
each village family obtain a RMB 20,000-80,000 subsidy from
provincial finances, both of which contributed to the three-fold
increase in per capita income.

"You Can Only Be a Hero When You're Dead"

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

7. (SBU) In the midst of effusive official praise, some
controversy surrounding Shen's death has also emerged, our
contacts said. The circumstances of Shen's demise still are
under investigation, but his young age (45) and the timing of
his heart attack in the wake of three official banquets, sparked
the blogosphere and Anhui residents to speculate that excess
alcohol consumption could have been a contributing factor.
While many residents lauded Shen's work ethic, they acknowledged
that much of his work included hosting banquets for visiting
central and provincial government officials. "Drinking was an

SHANGHAI 00000045 003 OF 003


unavoidable task," said Zhang Deyuan. Several contacts told
CongenOffs that local officials [cannot be praised publicly
while still in office, or even when they are still alive,
because they still are liable to make mistakes. In China, said
Anhui Provincial Foreign Affairs Deputy Director General Lu
Youqin, "You can only be a hero when you're dead."

Learn from Shen Hao?

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

8. (SBU) Comment: Developing cadres who are both virtuous and
capable is an oft-repeated goal of the Chinese Communist Party,
and the media blitz about Shen Hao carries all the hallmarks of
a classic Central Propaganda Department emulation campaign,
including a deceased hero no longer capable of bad behavior.
Ironically, however, observers in Anhui pointed to Shen's
success in "working the system," more than his personal
morality, as the factor which brought him to the attention of
China's top leaders. In the end, it may have been that system
-- which still often demands catering to officials' private
pleasures in order to address public needs -- that killed
Anhui's "model cadre." End Comment.
CAMP

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