Hu's anger over 2006 US trip sees official fired

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 January, 2011, 12:00am

Former foreign minister Li Zhaoxing's (pictured) sudden removal from his post in 2007 was linked to President Hu Jintao's 'lingering anger' about the handling of Hu's gaffe-filled visit to the United States the previous year, cables from WikiLeaks revealed.

In one of the cables, dated May 24, 2007, a US-China specialist - whose name was obscured by Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, which published it - told Kenneth Jarrett, then US consul general in Shanghai, that Li had been 'hastily replaced' because Hu was unhappy with Li's management of the foreign ministry.

'Hu blamed Li for his less-than-perfect visit to the United States in April 2006,' it said.

According to the cable, Hu was upset because his trip was not treated as a state visit: there was no state dinner at the White House and no flags flying between the White House and Blair house - the president's guest house, which hosts foreign heads of state. Hu was also unhappy with the presence of a Falun Gong protester during his remarks on the White House lawn.

The US-China expert heard that the Chinese embassy in Washington had reviewed the script for the ceremonies at the White House and did not catch the offending reference to the Chinese national anthem as the anthem of the 'Republic of China' - the official name of Taiwan.

In his recent US trip, Hu was accorded full honours - a 21-gun salute; a rare private dinner with President Barack Obama and a gala dinner.

The expert said Hu disliked Li and supported Yang Jiechi , the former ambassador to the United States, to succeed him.

While Yang was considered to be knowledgeable about the US and well-connected there, the expert expected him to 'very much follow the central leadership's direction' and believed there would be no major changes in China's policy towards the US. Li has since been appointed the chairman of the NPC's foreign affairs committee.