under construction
CHINA LEADER MATTERS

28.Jan 11    Startschuss zu Freihandelsabkommen der Schweiz mit China, NZZ Online, SDA
23 Jan 11    China Grooming Deft Politician as Next Leader, NYT, EDWARD WONG
20 Jul 09   wikileaks: PRC LEADERSHIP STABLE DESPITE TENSIONS; XI STILL ON TOP
27 Feb 09   wikileaks: HU JINTAO SEEKS CLOSE TIES WITH U.S., TAIWAN BREAKTHROUGH AS HIS LEGACY
21 Dec 88   wikileaks: HU JINTAO--A GLANCE AT HIS CHARACTER
13.Jun 18    Freundschaftsvertrag Schweiz/China




SR 0.142.112.491    13. Juni 1918

Freundschaftsvertrag Schweiz/China, Art. I:

"Zwischen der Schweiz und China sowie den Angehörigen der beiden Staaten soll dauernd Friede und Freundschaft bestehen."




21.12.1988
C O N F I D E N T I A L GUANGZHOU 08077
BEIJING PLEASE PASS CHENGDU

wikileaks@aftenposten.no
E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR
TAGS: PINR, PGOV, CH

SUBJECT: HU JINTAO--A GLANCE AT HIS CHARACTER

1. CONFIDENTIAL-ENTIRE TEXT.

2. DURING A RECENT CALL ON THE CONSUL GENERAL, U.S. POLITICAL SCIENTIST [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] RECOUNTED A CONVERSATION HE HAD RECENTLY HAD ABOUT HU JINTAO. IN TRAVELLING BACK FROM HAINAN TO GUANGZHOU HE WAS SEATED NEXT TO AN ENTREPRENEUR FROM GUIZHOU. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] ASKED WHAT HE THOUGHT OF HU JINTAO, WHO HAD BEEN THE PARTY SECRETARY IN GUIZHOU BEFORE BEING NAMED TO TIBET. THE ENTREPRENEUR SAID THAT HE THOUGHT THAT HU HAD TWO SIGNIFICANT FAILINGS WHICH MADE IT DOUBTFUL HE COULD SUCCEED IN TIBET. FIRST, HU HAD NO CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MILITARY. SECOND, HE WAS A CAUTIOUS, VACILLATING LEADER. AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF HU´S TIMIDITY, THE ENTREPRENEUR SAID THAT DURING ONE OF HIS TRIPS HE HAD WORKED OUT A PROJECT WHICH WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN THE EXPANSION OF GUIZHOU´S EXPORTS. HE SENT A COPY OF HIS SUGGESTION TO HU WHO SAID THAT IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AND HE SHOULD SUGGEST THAT THE APPROPRIATE GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS IMPLEMENT IT. WHEN THE ENTREPRENEUR TRIED TO DO SO, THERE WAS THE USUAL BUREAUCRATIC OPPOSITION FROM VARIOUS OFFICES, AND IN THE END NOTHING WAS DONE. HE COMMENTED THAT HU WAS PREPARED TO MOVE ONLY IF EVERYONE AGREED WITH SOMETHING; HE WAS NOT PREPARED TO TACKLE OPPOSITION. GIVEN THE SITUATION IN TIBET, HU WILL BE FACING MANY DIFFERENCES AND WILL GET LITTLE DONE IF HE IS NOT PREPARED TO EXERT HIMSELF.

3. COMMENT. THIS IS OBVIOUSLY HEARSAY INFORMATION, BUT WE BELIEVE THAT [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] ACCURATELY RECOUNTED WHAT THE GUIZHOU ENTREPRENEUR TOLD HIM. THE REMARKS SEEM SOMEWHAT OVERLY FRANK FOR SUCH A PERSON TO MAKE TO AN UNKNOWN [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN], BUT THEY MAY REFLECT WHAT SOME CHINESE ARE SAYING TO EACH OTHER ABOUT HU.

PRATT
 




27.02.2009
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 000517
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2034
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, CH, TW

SUBJECT: PRC LEADERS KEEN TO FORGE CLOSE TIES WITH U.S.;
HU JINTAO SEEKS TAIWAN BREAKTHROUGH AS HIS LEGACY

REF: A. BEIJING 145
B. 07 BEIJING 6673
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Aubrey Carlson.
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
wikileaks@aftenposten.no

Summary

1. (C) The PRC leadership is determined to forge close ties with the new U.S. Administration, viewing relations with Washington as the key to China´s engagement with the world, according to an Embassy contact with access to the Chinese leadership. Though China has long viewed its relationship with the United States as its most important, a "shift" took place following the August 2008 Olympics, when Chinese leaders realized that good relations with Washington "saved" the Beijing Games and "brought the rest of the world to China." This same contact asserted that President Hu Jintao is actively pursuing a "breakthrough" on Taiwan as his primary attempt at establishing a "legacy." As early as 2006, Hu reportedly formed a "study team," which is still active, to research a "new way forward" on Taiwan. The lack of a response so far from Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou to Hu´s six-point proposal of December 31, however, is a concern to China´s leaders, our contact asserted. End Summary.

U.S. RELATIONS "THE KEY" TO THE REST OF THE WORLD

2. (C) China is keen to pursue close relations with the new U.S. administration, according to [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN]. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] told PolOff on February 19 that PRC leaders believed, based on the Olympics experience, that the rest of the world would largely continue to look to the United States to determine how to deal with a rising China. Thus, relations with Washington were "the key" to China´s engagement with the rest of the world. According to "multiple sources" within Zhongnanhai, according to [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN], this new emphasis on better relations with the United States had originated "straight from the top" (meaning from President Hu Jintao) and not from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The phrase that "everyone" was talking about in Zhongnanhai, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] claimed, was "getting relations right with the United States means getting relations right with the entire world." (Note: In Chinese, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] said the phrase is, "zhua zhu meiguo, jiu zhua zhu quan shijie.")

3. (C) The PRC leadership´s determination to forge closer ties with the United States stemmed from the "lessons" China had learned from the August 2008 Olympic Games, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] asserted. Though China had long viewed its relationship with the United States as its most important, following the August 2008 Olympics, Chinese leaders realized that good relations with Washington had "saved" the Beijing Games and "brought the rest of the world to China." Then-President Bush´s early decision to attend the Olympics and refusal to politicize the Games, even after the March 2008 unrest in Tibet, had given Hu Jintao and the Chinese people "great face" and stood in stark contrast to the "wavering" and "grandstanding" of leaders like French President Sarkozy. Most importantly, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] argued, it had been the U.S. position that eventually "prevailed," with the rest of the world "following the U.S. lead" and deciding to attend the Games. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] commented that the days of Beijing´s relying primarily on relations with the Third World, or the UN, were "long gone," [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] averred, declaring, "It´s all about the United States now."

HU JINTAO PURSUING TAIWAN "BREAKTHROUGH" AS HIS "LEGACY"

4. (C) Turning to China´s cross-Strait policy, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] claimed that President Hu Jintao was actively pursuing a "breakthrough" on Taiwan as his primary attempt at establishing a "legacy." Just as former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping had agreement on the reversion of Hong Kong to PRC sovereignty as part of his legacy, Hu wanted to "do something big" on Taiwan. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] dismissed Hu Jintao´s signature domestic policy, the Scientific Development Concept (SDC), as "rubbish" (gou pi), reiterating that, in his view, a breakthrough on Taiwan would be far more important than anything Hu might accomplish through continuing to push the Scientific Development Concept. (Comment: This is the second Embassy source to claim that Hu is aiming for his Taiwan policy, and not the Scientific Development Concept, to be his primary legacy -- see ref A.)

5. (C) For several years, Hu Jintao had had in mind a breakthrough on Taiwan, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] asserted. As early as 2006, Hu had formed a "study team," which was still active, of leading Chinese scholars and other experts to research a "new way forward" on Taiwan. The group´s goal was to find a path that lay somewhere between the "one country, two systems" approach that remained unacceptable to Taiwan and anything that smacked of "special state-to-state relations" that remained anathema to the Mainland. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] said he had "heard" that Dean of the Tsinghua University Law School Wang Zhengmin was one member of this study group.

6.. (C) Hu Jintao´s best-known speeches on cross-Strait relations had grown out of this desire to achieve a breakthrough and the work of this study group, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] averred, including Hu´s offer of a "peace agreement" during his keynote address to the 17th Party Congress in October 2007 (ref B) and his "six-point" proposal in his December 31, 2008 speech (ref A). Currently, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] claimed, the Chinese leadership´s greatest concern regarding this hoped-for "breakthrough" was the lack of a substantive response from Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou to Hu´s December 31 speech.

PICCUTA




20.07.2009
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 002063
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/20/3034
TAGS: PGOV, CH

SUBJECT: PRC LEADERSHIP STABLE DESPITE TENSIONS; XI STILL ON TOP

REF: A. BEIJING 2040
B. SHENYANG 127
Classified By: Acting Political Minster Counselor Benjamin Moeling. Re
asons 1.4 (b/d).
wikileaks@aftenposten.no

Summary

1. (C) Embassy contacts have reported that relations among China´s top leaders remained largely stable, and the arrangements put in train for succession at the 18th Party Congress in 2012 appeared to be holding, with Xi Jinping likely to become Party chief and Li Keqiang to become Premier. Three years out, however, this succession scenario was by no means guaranteed, contacts contended, as a number of factors could cause Xi to stumble. End Summary.

Tense, but Stable, Succession in Place...

2. (C) Echoing views we have heard from a number of contacts over the past several months, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN], told PolOff on May 13 that the Party leadership, in general, was "stable." [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] said it was too early to be certain about the outcome of the 18th Party Congress in 2012, but that he considered Xi Jinping to still be the front runner and Li Keqiang the runner-up. On May 26, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN], separately agreed that the final succession outcome was too early to call but that the situation at the top was stable. All the leaders know that they had to hang together, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] said, or they would hang separately. That was the lesson of the 1989 Tiananmen unrest and the fall of the former Soviet Union, according to [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN].

3. (C) [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] stated in a meeting with PolOffs on May 18 that despite natural tensions and differences of view, the leadership was "very stable" and will remain so through 2012. In his view, Deng´s final legacy to the Party was a system esigned to avoid the vicious infighting of the past. The leadership lineup put in place at the 17th Congress was not likely to change, with Xi Jinping most likely becoming Party General Secretary and Li Keqiang taking the Premier slot.

Hu to Retain CMC Chair?

4. (C) [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] separately predicted that, as things now stand, Hu Jintao would probably stay on as Central Military Commission Chair at the 18th Party Congress in 2012, following the example of former Party chief Jiang Zemin in 2002. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] dismissed the possibility of Hu trying to retain his positions of General Secretary and President, even though there was no formal rule mandating that he step down. There was strong consensus in the Party against China´s top leader serving beyond two five-year "terms." [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] claimed that Li Changchun, He Guoqiang, and Zhou Yongkang, widely perceived as belonging to the Jiang Zemin-Zeng Qinghong political network, had all "sided with" and "supported" Hu Jintao and, in return, hoped this would pay dividends for their political allies in 2012. As a result, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] asserted, Hu Jintao was now "very strong," even though he still must rule primarily through consensus as the "first among equals" among the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC).

... But Succession Sweepstakes Not Set in Stone

5. (C) Although Xi was still the front runner, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] said, it was still "very early," and Xi could "stumble," potentially resulting in changes to the lineup in 2012. For example, if Hu´s strength continued to grow, Hu might yet try to elevate Li Keqiang into the top job, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] calculated. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] said that the upcoming provincial personnel reshuffles would provide one clue to the leadership plans for 2012 as well as a barometer to measure Hu´s strength.

6. (C) [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN], told PolOff on March 11 that one should not assume that Xi´s promotion to Party chief was inevitable. Xi´s role as PRC Vice President was "useless," [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] said, and there had only been one succession in Party history that went according to plan, the transfer of power from Jiang Zemin to Hu Jintao in 2002. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] said that rumors continued to circulate that people were trying to undermine Xi as heir apparent. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] claimed that Xi´s extended diplomatic visits to Mexico and five Latin American and Caribbean nations, February 8-23, were unusual for a Vice President and speculated that Xi may have been sent hoping he would perform poorly and show that he was not cut out to be China´s top leader. Xi´s "inappropriate" comments in Mexico, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] huffed, were unbecoming a Vice President and showed that Xi was not very well cultivated (ge ren xiu yang bu hao). (Note: In Mexico, Xi lashed out at "idle foreigners with nothing better to do" than criticize China.) The [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] still hoped Li Keqiang could takeover from Hu, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] stated. (See Ref B for rumors of possible maneuvering between Xi and Li in China´s northeast.)

Wen-Hu Tensions Downplayed

7. (C) [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] dismissed reports in Western media of tension between Wen and Hu. In particular, he discounted interpretations of Wen´s absence at the May 12 memorial ceremony commemorating last year´s Wenchuan earthquake as evidence of such tension. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] stated that it would be unusual for both Hu and Wen to appear together at such an event, noting that there was only one other Politburo Standing Committee member present, seventh-ranking Li Keqiang. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] separately agreed that Wen´s absence was not a sign of tension with Hu. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] attributed the absence of Wen photographs in the commemorative displays, which many observers claimed was a sign of tension because of Wen´s high profile presence in Wenchuan at the time of the earthquake, to political maneuvering by Sichuan Party Secretary Liu Qibao. Liu, a CYL-faction official in Hu´s camp, was simply trying to curry favor with Hu, according to [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN]. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] maintained that despite natural differences of views between Hu and Wen, the two had a very close working relationship which would continue until the next leadership turnover in 2012. (See Ref A for persistent criticism of Wen Jiabao).

Jiang and Zeng Retain Influence

8. (C) [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] said that former Party chief Jiang Zemin remained powerful but that his influence was waning over time. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] similarly told PolOff last fall that Jiang could not be dismissed as a factor in leadership politics but that his age and ill health were starting to erode his authority. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] dismissed rumors circulating last year that Hu Jintao was attempting to undermine Jiang, stating that it "made no sense" for Hu to risk provoking a conflict when Jiang´s influence was already decreasing.

9. (C) [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] claimed that former PBSC member, and close Jiang ally, Zeng Qinghong also retained considerable influence and that Jiang exercised influence through Zeng. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN], who knows Zeng Qinghong personally, said that Zeng was still powerful and exercised his influence through Xi Jinping. Zeng was one of Xi´s strong supporters in the General Secretary sweepstakes at the 17th Party Congress, according to [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN]. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] added that it was not strange that Zeng had withdrawn from public view since he retired. In addition to current Party norms which favored retired leaders staying out of public view, Zeng shunned the limelight of his own accord. In addition, Zeng had been suffering from minor health problems lately.

Biographical Note on Zeng Qinghong

10. (C) Zeng was one of the most open-minded of all contemporary Chinese leaders and was a strong supporter of political reform, according to [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN]. In [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN]´s view, had Zeng become Party General Secretary, he would have led China toward democracy. While Zeng was a strong supporter of former Party paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, Zeng´s mindset was closer to that of former Party chiefs Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang and former Politburo members Wan Li and Xi Zhongxun, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] claimed. In addition, [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] said that Zeng had "a big heart" and was somewhat of an unsung hero within the Party who had quietly come to the aid of many comrades in trouble. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] related a personal experience with Zeng following the military crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989 when [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN]. Zeng "saved my life," [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] related, adding that Zeng had similarly "saved" many other people.

GOLDBERG





January 23, 2011

China Grooming Deft Politician as Next Leader
By EDWARD WONG and JONATHAN ANSFIELD

BEIJING — President Hu Jintao of China returned home this weekend after a trip intended to repair relations with the United States. But the next time the White House marches out the honor guard and polishes the crystal for a Chinese leader, it is unlikely to be for Mr. Hu.


As President Hu Jintao looked on, Xi Jinping addressed the National People’s Congress in 2008  Andy Wong/Associated Press

Following a secretive succession plan sketched out years ago, Mr. Hu has already begun preparing for his departure from power, passing the baton to his presumed successor, a former provincial leader named Xi Jinping, now China’s vice president. While Mr. Xi is expected to formally take the reins next year in China, the world’s second-largest economy and fastest-modernizing military power, he remains a cipher to most people, even in China.

But an extended look at Mr. Xi’s past, taken from wide-ranging interviews and official Chinese publications, shows that his rise has been built on a combination of political acumen, family connections and ideological dexterity. Like the country he will run, he has nimbly maintained the primacy of the Communist Party, while making economic growth the party’s main business.

There is little in his record to suggest that he intends to steer China in a sharply different direction. But some political observers also say that he may have broader support within the party than Mr. Hu, which could give him more leeway to experiment with new ideas. At the same time, there is uncertainty about how he may wield authority in a system where power has grown increasingly diffuse. Mr. Xi also has deeper military ties than his two predecessors, Mr. Hu and Jiang Zemin, had when they took the helm.

For much of his career, Mr. Xi, 57, presided over booming areas on the east coast that have been at the forefront of China’s experimentation with market authoritarianism, which has included attracting foreign investment, putting party cells in private companies and expanding government support for model entrepreneurs. This has given Mr. Xi the kind of political and economic experience that Mr. Hu lacked when he ascended to the top leadership position.

He is less of a dour mandarin than Mr. Hu is. The tall, stocky Mr. Xi is a so-called princeling — a descendant of a member of the revolutionary party elite — and his second marriage is to a celebrity folk singer and army major general, Peng Liyuan.

Unlike the robotic Mr. Hu, Mr. Xi has dropped memorable barbs against the West into a couple of recent speeches: he once warned critics of China’s rise to “stop pointing fingers at us.” But he has enrolled his daughter in Harvard, under a pseudonym.

The Climb Up the Ladder
Mr. Xi (his full name is pronounced Shee Jin-ping) climbed the ladder by building support among top party officials, particularly those in Mr. Jiang’s clique, all while cultivating an image of humility and self-reliance despite his prominent family ties, say officials and other party members who have known him.

His subtle and pragmatic style was seen in the way he handled a landmark power project teetering on the edge of failure in 2002, when he was governor of Fujian, a coastal province. The American company Bechtel and other foreign investors had poured in nearly $700 million. But the investors became mired in a dispute with planning officials.

After ducking foreign executives’ repeated requests for a meeting, Mr. Xi agreed to chat one night in the governor’s compound with an American business consultant on the project whose father had befriended Mr. Xi’s father in the 1940s.

Mr. Xi explained that he could not interfere in a dispute involving other powerful officials. But he showed that he knew the project intimately and supported it, promising to meet the investors “after the two sides have reached an agreement.” That spurred a compromise that allowed the power plant to begin operating.

“I thought, ‘This person is a brilliant politician,’ ” said the consultant, Sidney Rittenberg Jr.

Mr. Xi’s political skills paid their greatest dividend last October, when he was appointed vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, a move that means he will almost certainly succeed Mr. Hu as party secretary in late 2012 and as president in 2013. Mr. Hu, the commission’s chairman, could retain his military post for another few years.

Over the years, Mr. Xi built his appeal on “the way he carried himself in political affairs,” said Zhang Xiaojin, a political scientist at Tsinghua University.

“On economic reforms and development, he proved rather effective,” Mr. Zhang said. “On political reforms, he didn’t take any risks that would catch flak.”

Mr. Xi also emerged as a convenient accommodation to two competing wings of the party: those loyal to Mr. Hu and those allied with Mr. Jiang, who in China’s collective leadership had an important role in naming Mr. Hu’s successor.

Mr. Xi’s elite lineage and career along the prosperous coast have aligned him more closely with Mr. Jiang. But like Mr. Hu, Mr. Xi also spent formative years in the provincial hinterlands. Mr. Hu was once close to Mr. Xi’s father, a top Communist leader during the Chinese civil war.

The father, Xi Zhongxun, was one of the more liberal party leaders and was purged several times under Mao. He was a mastermind in the early 1980s of China’s first special economic zone in Shenzhen. Behind closed party doors, he supported the liberal-leaning leader Hu Yaobang, who was dismissed in 1987, and condemned the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989.

The younger Mr. Xi grew up in Beijing and went to the premier military-run high school. But he had to fend for himself during the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution. At age 15, he was sent to labor among peasants in the yellow hills of Shaanxi Province. He stayed seven years in the village of Liangjiahe, which eventually named him party secretary.

Mr. Xi came to hate ideological struggles. In an essay published in 2003, he wrote, “Much of my pragmatic thinking took root back then, and still exerts a constant influence on me.”

Even at that early age, his conciliatory leadership style was evident. “When people had a conflict with each other, they would go to him, and he’d say, ‘Come back in two days,’ ” said Lu Nengzhong, 80, the patriarch of a cave home where Mr. Xi lived for three years. “By then, the problem had solved itself.”

Mr. Xi later relied on family ties to enter Tsinghua University in Beijing. He began his political career as an aide to Geng Biao, a powerful military bureaucrat allied with Mr. Xi’s father.

By the early 1980s, party elders had identified Mr. Xi as one of a brood of prospective future leaders. His first provincial post was in Hebei, where he promoted local tourism and rural enterprise, but ran up against the conservative provincial leader. The party then sent him to Fujian Province, across the Taiwan Strait from Taiwan. Mr. Xi bounced through three cities over 17 years.

There, he courted Taiwanese investors. For 14 years, he also supervised the local military command. His exposure to the Taiwan territorial issue “may shade his views on cross-strait relations in the direction of flexibility,” said Alice L. Miller, a scholar of Chinese politics at the Hoover Institution.

Some ambitious investments drew national scrutiny while Mr. Xi governed Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian. City leaders signed a contract with Li Ka-shing, the Hong Kong real estate tycoon, to redevelop the old city quarter, but that fizzled after a public outcry. A new international airport grossly overshot its budget.

Nor was Mr. Xi untainted by corruption scandals. One party investigation into bribe-taking in Ningde and Fuzhou, publicized years after he left Fujian, toppled two former city leaders whom Mr. Xi had promoted.

Gaining Beijing’s Notice
But back in Beijing, top leaders were watching out for Mr. Xi. He actually finished last when party delegates voted for the 344 members and alternates of the Party Central Committee in 1997 because of general hostility toward princelings. But Mr. Xi slipped in as an alternate anyway. Mr. Jiang, the party leader, and his power broker, Zeng Qinghong, helped back Mr. Xi’s continued rise, said Cheng Li, a scholar of Chinese politics at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

His next assignment, as provincial party boss up the coast in Zhejiang, was cushier. There, too, the economy was humming. Mr. Xi hewed to Beijing’s initiatives to embrace private entrepreneurs. He also hitched his star to homegrown private start-ups that have since gone global.

Soon after his arrival in late 2002, he visited Geely, then the province’s sole carmaker. The firm’s indefatigable founder, Li Shufu, had just begun to receive some financing from state banks. “If we don’t give additional strong support to companies like Geely, then whom are we going to support?” Mr. Xi remarked. Last year, Geely bought the carmaker Volvo from the Ford Motor Company.

Mr. Xi bestowed early recognition, too, on Ma Yun, founder of Alibaba, now an e-commerce giant and Yahoo’s partner in China. After he left Zhejiang in 2007 to become the top official in Shanghai, Mr. Xi extended an invitation to Mr. Ma: “Can you come to Shanghai and help us develop?”

At the time, party authorities were pushing private companies to form party cells, part of Mr. Jiang’s central vision to bring companies and the party closer. Officials under Mr. Xi parceled out vanity posts to entrepreneurs, granting some the coveted title of local legislative delegate. Mr. Xi also cautiously supported small-scale political reforms in Zhejiang, where democratic experiments were percolating at the grass roots.

When cadres in one village in Wuyi County allowed villagers to elect three-person committees to supervise their leaders, Mr. Xi took notice. He issued pivotal directives that helped extend the obscure pilot program, said Xiang Hanwu, a county official. The system won praise from the Central Party School, where rising cadres are trained. In August, Zhejiang approved a provincewide rollout, though with additional party controls.

Mr. Xi also got an important career boost from Zhejiang’s push to forge business ties with poorer provinces inland. He led groups of wealthy Zhejiang businessmen who met with officials in western provinces, winning points with other provincial leaders.

Seizing the Throne
For years before a party congress in October 2007, Mr. Xi was not deemed the front-runner to succeed Hu Jintao as party leader. The favorite was Li Keqiang, a protégé of Mr. Hu. But Mr. Xi’s political capital surged in March 2007 when he was handed the job of party boss in Shanghai after a pension fund scandal had toppled the previous leader.

Shanghai was the power base of Mr. Jiang and Mr. Zeng. During his short seven-month stint there, before he joined the elite Politburo Standing Committee in Beijing, Mr. Xi helped ease the aura of scandal on their turf, while stressing Beijing’s prescriptions for the kind of measured growth favored by Mr. Hu.

It was a balancing act of a kind that had served him well for decades.

Since joining the inner sanctum in Beijing, Mr. Xi has reinforced his longstanding posture as a team player. As president of the Central Party School, Mr. Xi recently made a priority of teaching political morality based on Marxist-Leninist and Maoist ideals, a resurgent trend in the bureaucracy.

His views of the West remain difficult to divine. He once told the American ambassador to China over dinner that he enjoyed Hollywood films about World War II because of the American sense of good and evil, according to diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks. He took a swipe at Zhang Yimou, the renowned Chinese director, saying some Chinese filmmakers neglect values they should promote.

But on a visit to Mexico in 2009, when he was defending China’s record in the global financial crisis before an audience of overseas Chinese, he suggested that he was impatient with foreigners wary of China’s new power in the world.

“Some foreigners with full bellies and nothing better to do engage in finger-pointing at us,” he said. “First, China does not export revolution; second, it does not export famine and poverty; and third, it does not mess around with you. So what else is there to say?”

Li Bibo and Benjamin Haas contributed research.




NZZ Online    28. Januar 2011, 14:00

Startschuss zu Freihandelsabkommen der Schweiz mit China
Minister beider Staaten unterzeichnen Absichtserklärung

Die Verhandlungen zu einem Freihandelsabkommen zwischen der Schweiz und China sind offiziell eröffnet. Bundesrat Johann Schneider-Ammann und der chinesische Handelsminister Chen Deming unterzeichneten in Davos eine gemeinsame Absichtserklärung zur Aufnahme von Verhandlungen.
Der Schweizer Volkswirtschaftsminister Johann Schneider-Ammann und sein chinesischer Amtskollege Chen Deming beim offiziellen Start der Verhandlungen zum Freihandelsabkommen. (Bild: Keystone)
(sda) Bundesrat Johann Schneider-Ammann und der chinesische Handelsminister Chen Deming haben am Weltwirtschaftsforum (WEF) in Davos eine gemeinsame Absichtserklärung zur Aufnahme von Verhandlungen eines Freihandelsabkommen unterzeichnet.

Innert Wochen sollen beide Seiten die Arbeit aufnehmen. «Wir wollen mit sehr grosser Geschwindigkeit vorankommen», sagte Chen am Freitag vor den Medien. «Wir sind bereit», erklärte der Handelsminister am Rande des Weltwirtschaftsforums. Die Verhandlungen sollen bereits «zu einem frühen Zeitpunkt abgeschlossen werden».

Marktzugang der Exportfirmen erleichtern
Ziel sei eine umfassende Einigung, die Exportfirmen unter anderem aus der Maschinen-, Umwelttechnologie-, Pharma- und Chemieindustrie den Marktzugang erleichtere, sagte Schneider-Ammann.

Auch die Finanz- und Versicherungsbranche soll Vorteile aus dem Abkommen ziehen können. Zentrale Themen werden laut Schneider-Ammann der Schutz des geistigen Eigentums und mehr Rechtssicherheit sein.

Wichtiger Handelspartner
Die Schweiz sei zum neuntwichtigsten Handelspartner Chinas in Europa aufgestiegen, sagte Chen. Für die Schweiz sei die Volksrepublik gar der wichtigste Partner in Asien.

Der Handel zwischen der Schweiz und China wächst nach Angaben des Staatssekretariats für Wirtschaft (Seco) rascher als der übrige schweizerische Aussenhandel.

Mehr Exporte nach China
In den ersten elf Monaten des Jahres 2010 hat die Schweiz Waren im Wert von 6,7 Mrd. Fr. nach China exportiert. Das ist ein Drittel mehr als im gleichen Vorjahreszeitraum. Die Einfuhren stiegen derweil um 18 Prozent auf 5,6 Mrd. Franken.

Die Schweiz ist eines der wenigen Länder, das eine positive Handelsbilanz mit dem Reich der Mitte aufweist. Das Freihandelsabkommen soll der Schweizer Wirtschaft einen diskriminierungsfreien Zugang zum boomenden Markt in der Volksrepublik sichern und tiefere Zollabgaben mit sich bringen