Cable cites Beijing succession fears
Shanghai's leading intellectuals expressed uniformly negative views of Vice-President Xi Jinping's leadership abilities, and concerns about the prospects for needed political reforms if he succeeds Hu Jintao, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.
The consular memo, released by the Wikileaks website, describes the city's opinion leaders as 'pessimistic' about the chances of democratisation under Communist Party rule and talks of local government corruption being 'out of control'.
The 2,100-word cable, which was allegedly sent from the Shanghai consulate on September 25, 2009, summarises opinions gathered from four leading academics, an architect and a senior mainland journalist in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
Celebrations for the anniversary are described by the consulate's contacts as being 'over the top', with the 'unbelievable' security arrangements in Beijing at the time said to 'demonstrate the Chinese leadership's 'lack of confidence''.
The comments are reported to have been made in discussion with then-US consul general Beatrice Camp, possibly at a social gathering, two days before the cable was written. Although the document - marked 'classified', authorised by the consul-general - names the alleged sources of the information, the South China Morning Post has chosen not to identify them.
One of the academics cited in the document as making some of the strongest criticism of the Communist Party and the chances of reform spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity and denied the comments.
'I never said any of these things,' he said. 'I have never given information or opinions to the US consulate.'
A spokeswoman for the US consulate in Shanghai would not comment on 'unauthorised releases of classified material', but condemned any 'irresponsible' disclosures that could put lives at risk.