U.S. deeply involved in automaker issues

DETROIT, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Secret diplomatic cables show the U.S. government became deeply involved in global issues affecting automakers, a review by The Detroit News shows.

The News reported Monday it reviewed more than 100 Wikileaks-revealed communications related to autos between U.S. Embassies and Washington.


Among other findings, the newspaper's review revealed:

-- In February 2009, in a communication titled "Hummer stuck in the mud," the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported it learned the Chinese government planned to block the sale of GM's Hummer unit to a Chinese machinery maker. The embassy learned of the decision two weeks before it became public. China "recognized the deal would be good for the United States, but failed to see 'what's in it for China,'" a cable said, and the Chinese considered Hummer products to be "gas-guzzling junk."

-- Amid the controversy over the recall of Toyotas because of sticking pedals and other defects, a February 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said the Japanese government didn't want the problems to hurt relations with the United States. "It is crucial for Toyota to stay ahead of the issue," Japan's transport minister told U.S. Ambassador John Roos.


-- GM's proposed sale of its European unit, Adam Opel AG, which was losing money, drew scrutiny from top German leaders and the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. German officials thought the American government should be able to make the sale happen because of its majority share in the automaker with the bailout. When GM's board decided against selling Opel in November 2009, German Prime Prime Minister Angela Merkel became so angry, she wouldn't take a call from GM CEO Fritz Henderson and instead called President Barack Obama to complain, the report said. "The Germans are still having trouble understanding how GM could act independently of Washington," one cable said.

The State Department criticized the WikiLeaks' release of the cables and State Department spokeswoman Kerry Humphrey would not answer questions about global efforts on behalf of U.S. automakers, the News said. She said part of the embassies' job is promoting U.S. exports by facilitating trade.

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