US embassy cable - 06HONGKONG943

BEIJING LEADERS, YET AGAIN, REAFFIRM SUPPORT FOR DONALD TSANG

Identifier: 06HONGKONG943
Wikileaks: View 06HONGKONG943 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Hong Kong
Created: 2006-03-07 11:59:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: CH HK PGOV PHUM PINR PREL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO0700
PP RUEHCN
DE RUEHHK #0943/01 0661159
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071159Z MAR 06
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5345
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HONG KONG 000943 
 
SIPDIS 
 
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DEPT FOR EAP AND EAP/CM 
NSC FOR DENNIS WILDER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2031 
TAGS: CH, HK, PGOV, PHUM, PINR, PREL 
SUBJECT: BEIJING LEADERS, YET AGAIN, REAFFIRM SUPPORT FOR 
DONALD TSANG 
 
REF: A. HONG KONG 5634 
     B. HONG KONG 686 
 
Classified By: E/P Chief Simon Schuchat. Reasons: 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: On March 6, Chief Executive (CE) Donald Tsang 
concluded a five-day trip to Beijing to attend the fourth 
session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) in 
Beijing -- his first time as CE.  In recent weeks, Tsang has 
been dogged by speculation, prompted by dissatisfaction among 
Hong Kong's traditional, or "patriotic" leftists, that he had 
lost the backing of mainland leaders.  However, after senior 
leaders praised his performance, Tsang has been able, at 
least for the moment, to quash these rumors and return to 
Hong Kong with Beijing's full support.  In addition to 
attending the NPC, Tsang met with officials from several 
provinces and discussed the expansion of the individual 
traveler scheme, closer integration of the Greater Pearl 
River Delta, and the further liberalization of renminbi 
business in Hong Kong.  End Summary. 
 
Tsang's First Trip to NPC as Chief Executive 
 
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-------------------------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) On March 6, Chief Executive (CE) Donald Tsang 
concluded a five-day trip to Beijing to attend the fourth 
session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) in 
Beijing -- his first time as CE.  In recent weeks, Tsang has 
been dogged by speculation that he had lost the backing of 
Hong Kong's traditional leftists, as well as mainland 
leaders.  However, after numerous state ministers and senior 
leaders praised his performance, Tsang has been able, at 
least for the moment, to quash these rumors and return to 
Hong Kong with Beijing's full support. 
 
Anti-Tsang Campaign Quashed, At Least For Now 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) Prior to his departure for Beijing, Tsang was 
repeatedly questioned about why he was not scheduled to meet 
with senior officials.  During a press conference on March 2, 
Tsang pointed out that he had recently met with President Hu 
 
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Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao during a duty call last 
December (ref a) and that he wanted to focus on "practical 
matters, matters of economic and social interest to Hong 
Kong."  Despite this explanation, the Hong Kong media 
published reports, probably emanating from Hong Kong's 
"patriotic leftists," that Beijing had lost confidence in the 
CE (ref b).  In response, Albert Cheng, independent democrat 
and former radio talk show host, alleged that the pro-Beijing 
party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and 
Alliance of Hong Kong (DAB), was spearheading an "anti-Donald 
Tsang" campaign.  DAB Chairman Ma Lik countered that Cheng 
 
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was trying to drive a wedge between the CE and the 
"patriotic" camp. 
 
What's Their Beef? 
------------------ 
 
4.  (C) Shortly before the NPC began, we met with a Hong Kong 
NPC delegate, who explained that the traditional pro-Beijing 
forces were enraged at the CE over the appointment of Lau 
Sai-leung to the Central Policy Unit, and Andy Ho as the CE's 
Information Coordinator.  Both of these people had been very 
outspoken and critical of prominent members of the "patriotic 
left," by name; the leftists thus saw these appointments as a 
provocation.  If the CE simply wanted someone from the 
democratic side, he could have found someone who was not as 
hostile.  Lau, a former Executive Editor of Jimmy Lai's "Next 
Magazine," was a constant critic of C.H. Tung, and blamed 
everything Tung did on leftist influence.  Of course, our NPC 
contact continued, the Central Policy Unit has a 
representative from the liberal or democratic side, but Lau 
had personally attacked the CPU's resident leftist, Tsang 
Tak-hsing (brother of senior DAB Exco member Jasper Tsang). 
As for Andy Ho, he has been gone from Hong Kong for seven 
years, in Australia, so what was the need to bring him back? 
Neither position requires Beijing's approval, unlike bureau 
Secretarial appointments, so there was no way to stop them. 
 
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"Practical" and Image-enhancing Discussions in Beijing 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
5. (SBU) By the end of Tsang's visit to Beijing, mainland 
leaders had reaffirmed their support for the CE and had 
effectively dispelled any rumors about an "anti-Tsang" 
campaign.  On March 5, Tsang briefly met with President Hu 
Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao who, according to Tsang, "made 
 
HONG KONG 00000943  002 OF 002 
 
 
various encouraging remarks to me."  On March 6, Tsang 
revealed that he had met with Vice President Zeng Qinghong 
for over an hour on March 2 and with Hong Kong and Macau 
Affairs Office (HKMAO) Director Liao Hui the following day. 
Summarizing his meeting with the two leaders, Tsang told the 
media, "they are highly encouraging as regards the leadership 
of Hong Kong, comprising the CE, the principal officials and 
the SAR Government."  On top of his sessions with Zeng and 
Liao, Tsang also received a chorus of praise from the 
numerous other mainland leaders that he met with during his 
trip.  National Development and Reform Commission Minister Ma 
Kai commended Tsang on a job well done; Minister of Commerce 
Bo Xilai praised Tsang's style of governance as meticulous, 
systematic, and effective. 
 
6.  (C) Veteran China watcher Ding Wang told poloffs on March 
7, that Tsang's meeting with Zeng and Liao were appropriate 
and not likely to be in response to the media speculation 
about an anti-Tsang campaign.  Ding noted that Zeng is the 
head of the working group on Hong Kong policy. As for Liao 
Hui, as head of HKMAO, it would be more surprising for him 
not to meet with Tsang.  According to Ding, Tsang and Liao 
have a close relationship, partly because Liao is the most 
senior official in Beijing fluent in Cantonese and thus able 
to communicate easily with Tsang.  Ding believes that Liao 
was crucial in Tsang's promotion to CE. 
 
7. (C) Tsang told reporters that he had not discussed the 
"anti-Tsang" campaign with mainland leaders but had focused 
on practical issues.  Tsang met with party secretaries and 
governors of the provinces of Guizhou, Guangdong, Jiangxi, 
Guangxi, Hunan and Nanchang city to discuss the expansion of 
the individual traveler scheme.  He also discussed closer 
integration of the Greater Pearl River Delta.  On his last 
day in Beijing, Tsang discussed the further liberalization of 
renminbi business in Hong Kong -- an important area for Hong 
Kong's financial sector, which seeks to become an offshore 
renminbi center -- with People's Bank of China Governor Zhou 
Xiaochu.  Asked whether he had raised the detention of 
"Straits Times" journalist Ching Cheong during a meeting with 
the Public Security Ministry, Tsang replied that Ching's case 
was not under the purview of the Public Security Ministry. 
(Note: It was not clear whether Tsang meant that, having been 
charged, Ching's case was now the responsibility of the 
courts, or if he meant that Ching's alleged "espionage" was 
the responsibility of the Ministry of State Security.  End 
note.)  He reassured the journalists, however, that he had 
"been working on this subject all along," without offering 
any additional details. 
 
CPPCC Delegates Urged to Speak Out 
---------------------------------- 
 
8. (SBU) Separately, Chinese People's Political Consultative 
Conference (CPPCC) Chairman Jia Qinglin told Hong Kong 
delegates to the CPPCC on March 6, that the central 
government fully supported both CEs and the governments of 
Hong Kong and Macau.  Jia called on CPPCC members to play a 
more active role in the "social and political realms in Hong 
Kong and Macau...They can take the initiative to contribute 
their views and advice on the internal affairs of the SARs as 
well as their governance." 
Ma Lik, DAB Chairman and NPC deputy, responded positively to 
Jia's remarks.  However, Democratic Party Chairman Lee 
Wing-tat said, "it will give people a feeling that they 
(CPPCC delegates) are speaking on behalf of the central 
government.  Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy under 
the Basic Law and it will be crossing the line under Mr. 
Jia's suggestions." 
Cunningham 

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