Wen Jiabao

Cable sheds light on the secret life of Wen Jiabao

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am

The 'people's premier' Wen Jiabao is a 'headache' and a formidable boss in the eyes of his subordinates, according to a US diplomatic cable that has been released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks

Wen had a distaste for choreographed work schedules drawn up by his aides and local officials and also detested the wooden and monotonous presentation styles they used in their work reports, according to the cable released on Friday.

The detailed insights into the premier's personality were recorded on the cable in late 2003 by Jonathan Aloisi, a political minister counsellor at the US embassy in Beijing, who attributed the revelation to Wang Zhenyao, former director of the disaster relief department at the Civil Affairs Ministry.

Wang helped arrange three trips around the mainland in 2002 for then-vice-premier Wen, who became premier the following year.

Wang said that during an inspection visit to a city in a central province, Wen forced the mayor there to get rid of the script he was using to present his city's successful emergency response.

The mayor initially insisted on sticking to his scripted account because there were 'a lot of statistics' in it, Wang said. Wen, who is famous for his outstanding memory on statistical figures, chastised the mayor.

'Mr Mayor, you have been an official in this city for several years now,' Wen said. 'Surely you have a command of the statistics that reflect how life is for the city's residents.

'I'll make you a deal: If you put away your text, then I'll put away mine when it is my turn to speak.'

The deal embarrassed the mayor, who pushed his manuscript to the side, but continued to take frequent peeks when Wen was not looking.

'That poor mayor,' Wang was quoted saying. 'It was the middle of winter yet he was perspiring through his shirt.'

Wang said Wen's intellectual curiosity and impatience with bureaucracy caused headaches for his subordinates and handlers. 'If you arranged for him to visit one village, he would ask why he wasn't scheduled to visit another nearby village.'

The cable described Wen's personal requirements as modest: He preferred to eat alone in his hotel room rather than take part in fancy banquets hosted by local officials.