Posts Tagged ‘Jiang Zemin’

Communist ideologist behind three Chinese presidents moved to top spot

October 21, 2017

Wang Huning, who has advised Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, tipped for elevation to party leadership

South China Morning Post

Saturday, 21 October, 2017, 11:25am

The Communist Party’s principal theorist, Wang Huning, is odds-on to climb to the top rung on the ladder, the Politburo Standing Committee, when the party unveils its new leadership line-up next Wednesday, sources have told the South China Morning Post.

A distinguished scholar-politician who has helped shape the official party ideology for three presidents – Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping – Wang’s elevation may come as a surprise to some because the party traditionally prefers members of its highest decision-making body to have been hands-on managers of one or two provinces.

The man Wang will succeed as the top official in charge of ideology and propaganda, Liu Yunshan, is the only exception in the present seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. But Liu is an experienced bureaucrat, having headed the party’s propaganda department for 10 years before being promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee in 2012.

In contrast, Wang, 62, has spent more than two decades at the party Central Committee’s Policy Research Office – the last 15 as its director. A former dean of the Fudan University law school in Shanghai, his theoretical work and intellectual powers are highly regarded. But Wang appears to be lacking in administrative experience. He was admitted to the party’s 25-member Politburo in 2012, when Xi became party chief.

 A giant banner in Beijing’s central business district reads: ‘Unite closely around the party Central Committee with comrade Xi Jinping as the core, constantly win new victory for socialism with Chinese characteristics’. Photo: Reuters

Sources familiar with the intraparty discussion said Wang’s possible ascension reflected the pressing need for Xi to have someone at the top to provide ideological backing for his ambitious reform programmes.

In his speech to the more than 2,000 delegates at the party’s national congress in Beijing on Wednesday, Xi stressed the need to “better arm ourselves with theory” and “work faster to develop philosophy and social sciences with Chinese characteristics”.

With his rich theoretical experience, Wang would be a good fit for the job.

That view is increasingly shared by China watchers. Trey McArver, co-founder of Beijing-based research firm Trivium China, said he saw good reasons for Wang to be promoted and succeed Liu.

“I think it makes sense in many ways,” he said. “A year ago people thought this was not going to happen – he probably wouldn’t even have wanted it to. He is more of a thinker than a bureaucrat.”

But on closer examination, Wang was a more astute politician than he first appeared to be, McArver said, citing Wang’s five years with the Central Secretariat that deals with the day-to-day running of the Politburo and its Standing Committee.

After Wang was admitted to the secretariat by Hu in 2007 he began accompanying Hu on foreign trips. Xi has also kept Wang close and has been accompanied by him on his state visits as well.

 Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping addresses delegates at the party’s national congress in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Xinhua

“So he does have experience beyond policy research,” McArver said. “His main role in the new position would be running the secretariat, of which he has experience. He will be in charge of ideology, which is kind of dream come true. Once we started to think about it, it made a lot of sense.”

After his promotion, Wang is expected to give more direct theoretical support to help Xi deepen his administrative reform. The president sees himself as a reformist leader – although his view of reform differs from the Western understanding of it, which tends to associate it with liberalism.

At Fudan 30 years ago, Wang was already advocating a different tack. In an article published in 1988, Wang said that adopting a centralised leadership model was better than a “democratic and decentralised” model because it would allow the authorities to be “highly effective in distributing social resources” and “promote rapid growth.”

Unified leadership “could prevent unnecessary conflicts among different ideas”, Wang said. He said such system could help the authorities “promptly react to all kinds of unexpected and urgent situations” and take “forceful action to prevent major instabilities and fragmentation during modernisation.”

He argued that China needed leadership that was centralised, with broad vision and a strong sense of responsibility, in order to carry out the unprecedented task of guiding a country of 1.3 billion people to modernisation.

The article was said to have attracted the attention of the party leadership. Jiang asked Wang to join the Policy Research Office in 1995 and his work has long been appreciated by other party elders.

Now, with President Xi bent on reinvigorating the party and strengthening its structure, the veteran ideologist will have a chance to play a frontline role.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2116222/dream-come-true-communist-ideologist-behind-three

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Xi Jinping hails ‘new era’ at opening of China congress — Xi now a transformative leader alongside Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong.

October 18, 2017

Party conclave likely to cement president’s status as a transformative leader

China anti-corruption purge hits Central Committee

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, suit and indoor

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the opening session of the Chinese Communist Party’s five-yearly Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 18, 2017. Credit Wang Zhao – AFP – Getty Images

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By Tom Mitchell and Lucy Hornby in Beijing
FT (Financial Times)

President Xi Jinping declared that China had “entered a new era” as he opened a landmark Communist party congress that he hopes will cement his status as a transformative leader alongside Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong.

“The Chinese nation now stands tall and firm in the east,” Mr Xi said on Wednesday in Beijing at the opening of the party’s 19th congress, marking the formal start of his second five-year term as party leader. The congress, attended by about 2,300 delegates, will deliberate for one week before Mr Xi’s new party leadership team is revealed on October 24.

In an address that ran for more than three hours and was attended by his predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, Mr Xi urged his party colleagues to “work tirelessly to realise the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation” and hailed the economic progress made during his administration’s first term.

Image result for Xi Jinping, young school children sitting at attention in their classrooms, October 18, 2017, photos

President Xi Jinping’s (right) first term line-up was influenced by his predecessors Jiang Zemin (centre) and Hu Jintao. Photo: Reuters

“The Communist party is entering the Xi era,” said Sima Nan, a patriotic blogger. “Mao and Deng’s shadows still loom large, but Xi is his own man.”

As the hours ticked by, pictures circulated on social media showing young school children sitting at attention in their classrooms as they watched the president’s address on television.

Image result for chinese school children sit at attention, photos

AFP Photo

Mr Xi, however, offered little in the way of concrete plans and warned that “severe challenges” awaited China’s ruling party. “We have a long way to go in protecting the environment,” he said as air pollution in the Chinese capital hovered at officially “unhealthy” levels.

This is an era that will see China move closer to the centre of the world and make more contributions to humankind

“The last leg of a journey just marks the halfway point,” Mr Xi added, quoting a Chinese proverb. “Achieving national rejuvenation will be no walk in the park; it will take more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there.”

Upon assuming power in November 2012, Mr Xi declared China’s rejuvenation as one of the world’s great powers to be the “dream” of the Chinese people.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

After a stock market crash and run on China’s currency in late 2015 and early 2016, which marked the low points of Mr Xi’s first term in office, the party’s confidence surged as economic growth stabilised and Europe and the US were rocked by the rise of economic nationalism.

Mr Xi indirectly alluded to these events, most notably Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the 2016 US presidential election, in Wednesday’s address.

“China’s cultural soft power and the international influence of Chinese culture have increased significantly,” Mr Xi said. “China’s international standing has risen as never before.”

Mr Xi noted that, during his time in office, China’s annual economic output surged from Rmb54tn to Rmb80tn ($8.2tn-$12tn), accounting for about one-third of total global growth.

“China has seen the basic needs of over 1bn people met,” the president said. He added that an average of 13m new urban jobs had been created each year, while some 60m people have been lifted out of poverty.

The Chinese president also highlighted the accomplishments of his signature anti-corruption campaign, which has ended the careers of more than 150 senior officials including 18 members — or about 9 per cent — of the party’s outgoing Central Committee.

One of the speech’s biggest applause lines was Mr Xi’s pledge to maintain the campaign’s “unstoppable momentum”. He said anti-graft investigators would continue to “take out tigers, swat flies and hunt down foxes”, referring to officials of all ranks and corruption suspects who have fled abroad.

“We have solved many tough problems that were long on the agenda … but never got done,” the president added.

“The focus for Xi has clearly been party-building and cleaning out corruption,” said Andrew Polk at Trivium China, a Beijing-based consultancy. “Everything else has been secondary.”

Mr Xi also outlined a vision for China through the middle of the 21st century, predicting that the world’s most populous nation would be “moderately prosperous” by 2035 and “prosperous, strong and democratic” by 2050. “It will be an era that sees China moving closer to centre stage and making greater contributions to mankind,” he said.

The president’s long-term vision has stoked speculation that he might seek to stay on as party leader beyond the traditional 10-year term.

Additional reporting by Xinning Liu
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https://www.ft.com/content/1fa302f6-b3b1-11e7-a398-73d59db9e399

China’s great firewall gives rise to a robust industry of information smugglers

April 2, 2017

2 April 2017 00:06

By Oiwan Lam

Hong Kong Free Press

It is common knowledge that China’s so-called Great Firewall bars Chinese netizens from accessing overseas websites. A chief side effect of the firewall that is less commonly known among foreigners are the many social media outlets that “smuggle” news from overseas to mainland China.

Hong Kong investigative news platform The Initium has interviewed a number of media workers or so-called “information smugglers” who run social media accounts to translate or repackage content from overseas news sites to mainland China’s domestic network.

These information smugglers depend on circumvention tools to access overseas web content.

blind censorship

One woman interviewed by The Initium works for a media outlet that runs official public accounts on Weibo and WeChat. Ms. Yu described her daily routine to the Initium: She uses circumvention tools to access Buzzfeed, Reddit, and Tumblr, and to search for news that mainland Chinese readers may find interesting. She copies the stories and re-writes them in Chinese, adds attractive headlines for local audiences, and then publishes the stories to the outlets’ official accounts.

Thanks to China’s pervasive censorship system, “information smuggling” has become a robust sector. According to Yu:

The news censorship system suppresses conventional media (from covering news), the Great Firewall has blocked overseas media. That’s how my job fills in.

Yu explains that she typically writes three stories for the media outlets every day, spending a few hours on each story. Within a few minutes, the newly published post can attract hundreds of “likes” and comments. Since most of the stories are funny pieces that have nothing to do with China, they are less likely to be censored.

Information smuggling practices like these are increasingly common in countries with robust technical censorship infrastructure. In Iran, a non-profit project called Toosheh (“bundle”, in Persian) allows thousands of tech-savvy consumers download packaged files of censored news and media by way of a TV satellite connection. In Cuba, information that is either censored or hard to access (due to slow connection speeds) regularly circulates on thumb drives. Yu has even compared her work to Cuba’s Paquete Semanal or “Weekly Package”, a collection of media that is sold each week on Cuba’s informal market:

What I am doing is exactly the same [as the weekly package] — I ride on the Wall and pick the fruits from outside the Wall. The only distinction maybe, I have to blend the fruit into juice according to my fellow’s taste. People nowadays are too busy.

Repackaged news outlets yield steep profits

One of the most popular social media public accounts that “smuggles” overseas content is called “British News Sister” or @uktimes (@英國報姐). Launched in late 2013, the news outlet publishes mainly entertainment and sensational stories from overseas. Even official media outlets like Global Times and People Daily’s social media accounts have republished their posts. By early 2017, @uktimes had 13.35 million followers on Weibo and 580 thousand subscribers on WeChat. Its average post garners more than 10 million views.

uktimes

Weibo’s UKTimes.

The person who runs @uktimes studied in both the UK and Hong Kong, where she pursued a PhD. She started the account in an effort to share information and experience about studying abroad, never anticipating that it would evolve into an influential social media outlet. She recently resigned from her teaching position at a mainland Chinese university to manage @uktimes.

Another popular outlet for overseas news content is “Northern America Chinese Student Daily” (@北美留學生日報). Unlike @uktimes, the WeChat account of Northern America Chinese Student Daily publishes mainstream political news and its readers are mostly mainland Chinese students studying in Canada and the US. Its headline story has a average 60 thousand views each day and it has become a major information source for overseas Chinese students.

The chief editor of Northern America Chinese Student Daily Lin Guoyu worked at an accounting firm in California after graduating from University of Miami in 2012. He quit his job in 2014 to build his career by running the WeChat public account.

Within one year, Northern America Chinese Student Daily had received a HKD10 million (approximately US$ 1.25 million) investment from a Chinese overseas student service company.

Smugglers offer no guarantee of good journalism

Most of the editors working for news outlets which select and repackage overseas news and import them to Chinese readers do not have journalistic training. More often than not, they prioritize things like click rates over hard-hitting public interest journalism.

A former editor from Northern America Chinese Student Daily told the Initium:

Anyone can do this job. You just need to know English. And that’s exactly how the media is run… Very rarely that a person would be asked to re-translate an article; the role of the editors is not to do fact checking but make it more attractive and reader friendly. If the original text is – a school student was “sexually assaulted”, the editor would change it to “raped”.

“Northern America Chinese Student Daily” has made similar mistakes. On 30 August 2016, the public account translated an article by University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer, originally titled “Free Speech is the Basis of a True Education” to “Amid escalating political correctness, the President of the University of Chicago stands up against restriction on free speech.”

Netizens soon after pointed out that the translation turned the original article into a sensational piece. Some expressed concern that the headline was altered in an effort to appeal to the anti-political correctness sentiments shared among overseas Chinese students.

Some information smugglers even translate patently false news in an effort to attract clicks. As a Chinese-American journalist observed, this came to light in Chinese social media “reports” published during the US presidential election:

During the US election, local quality contents or even fake news were massively imported by the social media public accounts. Fake news like “spirit cooking” and “Hillary Clinton assassination of government officials has been denied by fact checkers and most mainstream media did not even report on the smear. Yet in the Chinese world, many public accounts have placed these fake news on the headlines and left people an impression that “all these negative reports and stories about Hillary Clinton cannot be all fake.”

Despite the spread of fake news and distorted information, the information smuggling sector will continue to grow, thanks to the Great Firewall, the thirst for information outside the wall and capital investors who appear to see the flow of information as a profit-making endeavor rather than a public good.

This article original appeared on Global Voices.

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2017/04/02/chinas-great-firewall-gives-rise-robust-industry-information-smugglers/

So as not to annoy China, this articles has been reppeatedly removed from Facebook….

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Times Insider shares insights into how we work at The New York Times. In this article, Craig S. Smith, a former Times Shanghai bureau chief and China managing director who is now a staff writer-at-large, reflects on the ups and downs of delivering New York Times content to the Chinese world.

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Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The New York Times, in 2001 with Jiang Zemin, then the president of China, at China’s leadership compound in Beidaihe. CreditCraig S. Smith/The New York Times

If you look at the top of our home page, you’ll see a tab with two Chinese characters, which mean “Chinese.” Few people know the struggle and angst that put those characters there.

In August 2001, I accompanied our publisher, Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., and a group of New York Times writers and editors to see Jiang Zemin, then the president of China. The meeting took place in a typical Chinese meeting room — doily-draped fauteuils underneath a monumental ink-and-brush painting of sea and mountains — at China’s leadership compound in Beidaihe, an otherwise gritty seaside resort on the northeastern coast.

The New York Times’s English-language website was blocked in China, and after a long discussion on a range of topics Tom Friedman asked why. President Jiang didn’t appear to know, and agreed to look into it. Within days, nytimes.com was accessible again in China. For the next 10 years, The Times’s website was reachable by mainland Chinese readers, with articles only occasionally blocked from view.

I left The Times for a Chinese start-up that never started and in late 2010 wanted to bring what I had learned back to The Times. I emailed Arthur and Bill Keller, the executive editor at the time, asking if they would be interested in a New York Times website in Chinese. I had experience building digital products and was well connected to the Chinese news media industry. The timing seemed right.

I asked Phil Pan, now The New York Times’s Asia editor — who had quit The Washington Post and was living in Hong Kong — to join me in hammering out a proposal. We worked for a year before we had a business plan in which The Times was willing to invest. Phil joined and I rejoined The Times in January 2012 and we got started.

October 2012 would begin a once-in-a-decade leadership change, which made our timing tricky. The government tightens its control of the news media during such times, but most people expected that period to pass. The incoming administration was widely expected to advance reforms that had been stalled under the presidency of Hu Jintao.

Despite squalls, I had watched China’s news media climate steadily improve since I first arrived there in 1980. I expected, and ultimately still expect, that trajectory to continue. Besides, The New York Times’s main website hadn’t had a problem in China since that meeting with President Jiang in 2001. That’s how I responded to worries from senior management that the China project might founder amid stiff political headwinds. None of us foresaw the authoritarian retrenchment that has since been enacted by the new president, Xi Jinping.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/31/insider/the-new-york-times-vs-the-great-firewall-of-china.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

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China Names Xi Jinping A “Core” Leader, Using Title Conferred on Mao Zedong

October 27, 2016

Officials at conclave designate the president as the ‘core’ of the leadership

An image of Chinese President Xi Jinping on display at an exhibition on the ‘Long March’ at a museum in Beijing. Mr. Xi has used an anticorruption drive to strengthen his hold on the Communist Party,
An image of Chinese President Xi Jinping on display at an exhibition on the ‘Long March’ at a museum in Beijing. Mr. Xi has used an anticorruption drive to strengthen his hold on the Communist Party, PHOTO: ANDY WONG/ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIJING—Chinese President Xi Jinping emerged from a top-level Communist Party conclave with a new leadership title, signaling an expansion of his political authority—and his ability to smother simmering dissent.

Roughly 350 top party officials concluded a four-day meeting Thursday by declaring Mr. Xi as the “core” of the party’s leadership, using a designation conferred upon the country’s most exalted leaders, including Mao Zedong, but not Mr. Xi’s immediate predecessor.

The new designation suggests Mr. Xi has strengthened his grip over Chinese political life as the 89-million-member party heads into a potentially fractious year of bargaining over a new leadership lineup to be determined later in 2017.

During his first four years as head of the party, Mr. Xi has been named commander-in-chief of the military and used an anticorruption campaign to shake up the bureaucracy, cashier rivals and amass power. A result, however, has been discord within the party elite over management of a slowing economy and unease over Mr. Xi’s concentration of personal power.

“Xi seems to have amassed sufficient political capital to set himself rhetorically on a par” with his most powerful predecessors, said Daniel Leese, a professor of Chinese history and politics at Germany’s University of Freiburg. “Collective leadership thus by now seems to be no more than a facade, with Xi’s predominance clearly established.”

During the meeting, held at a military-run hotel in western Beijing, the party’s Central Committee bolstered Mr. Xi’s authority by adopting stricter disciplinary rules that reinforce his anticorruption campaign, including new directives on acceptable political behavior and stronger supervision.

In a lengthy statement issued at the end of the closed-door meeting, the Central Committee emphasized the importance of Mr. Xi’s new designation as the leadership’s “core.”

Security officials in front of a portrait of Mao Zedong at the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing. Some party members have been worried by Mr. Xi’s growing dominance, fearing it signals a shift toward the dictatorial style that marred Mao’s rule.
Security officials in front of a portrait of Mao Zedong at the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing. Some party members have been worried by Mr. Xi’s growing dominance, fearing it signals a shift toward the dictatorial style that marred Mao’s rule. PHOTO: QILAI SHEN/BLOOMBERG NEWS

All party members should “closely unite around the party center with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core… and unswervingly safeguard the party leadership’s authority and centralized unity,” according to the communiqué, which was carried by state media.

Since becoming party leader in late 2012, Mr. Xi has concentrated more power in his hands than his recent predecessors, upending the consensus-driven, collective leadership that has prevailed in recent decades.

A chief tool in Mr. Xi’s consolidation of power has been the anticorruption drive, in which the president has empowered the party’s discipline-inspection agency to target officials who resist the central leadership or waver in their loyalties.

While trying to exert greater control over the party, Mr. Xi has also sought to expand China’s influence abroad, turning it into a true global power. His government, though, has made only fitful steps in trying to restructure a flagging economy, weighed down by excess industrial capacity and corporate debt. Progress has been impeded partly by resistance from large state industries and by officials nervous about making decisions amid the corruption crackdown.

While the new designation as “core” leader boosts Mr. Xi, some political scientists said his authority isn’t undisputed and high-level resistance to his leadership is unlikely to fade.

“He has not established himself as a strongman, at least not yet,” said Steve Tsang,professor of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham. “Xi is in a good position…but he is not in a position to dictate the direction” of next year’s party congress, where he must compete with rivals to place allies in top posts.

The “core” designation—previously applied to Mao, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin—was something that eluded Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, whose decade as party chief is seen by critics as a period of indecisive leadership that allowed corruption, income inequality and environmental woes to worsen, even as the economy thrived. These problems convinced some in the party elite to seek a stronger, more decisive leadership, paving the way for Mr. Xi’s rise.

Early this year, senior officials in several provinces began to refer to Mr. Xi as the “core,” in what some political analysts saw as a trial balloon. The designation disappeared amid criticism from some party members, who were unsettled by Mr. Xi’s growing dominance and feared it signaled a shift toward the dictatorial style that marred Mao’s tumultuous rule.

The notion resurfaced this month, when a party-run magazine said Mr. Xi should be hailed as the “core” of the party leadership, arguing that a strongman leader is critical to China’s rise as a great power.

In hailing Mr. Xi’s new status, the party’s flagship newspaper, People’s Daily, portrayed it as crucial in guaranteeing the party’s leadership as it faces “a great struggle with many new historical characteristics.”

The move, People’s Daily said, “reflects the common desire of the entire party, entire military and people of every ethnicity.”

Write to Chun Han Wong at chunhan.wong@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-xi-jinping-tightens-his-hold-on-communist-party-1477579202

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Reuters

Communist party bestows new title on president, putting him in a more powerful position before the 2017 congress

China’s president, Xi Jinping, has rapidly consolidated his power. Photograph by Aly Song, AFP, Getty

China’s Communist party has given the president, Xi Jinping, the title of “core” leader, putting him on par with previous strongmen Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, but signalled his power would not be absolute.

A lengthy communique released after a four-day meeting of senior officials in Beijing emphasised the importance of collective leadership. The system “must always be followed and should not be violated by any organisation or individual under any circumstance or for any reason”, the party said.

But all members should “closely unite around the central committee with comrade Xi Jinping as the core”, said the document, released through state media.

The core leader title marks a significant strengthening of Xi’s position before a key party congress next year, at which a new standing committee, the pinnacle of power in China, will be constituted.

Since assuming office almost four years ago, Xi has rapidly consolidated power, including heading a group leading economic change and appointing himself commander-in-chief of the military, though as head of the central military commission he already controlled the armed forces.

While head of the party, the military and the state, Xi had not previously been given the title “core”.

Deng coined the phrase “core leader”, and said he, Mao Zedong and Jiang Zemin were core leaders, meaning they had almost absolute authority and should not be questioned. Xi’s immediate predecessor, Hu Jintao, was never called the “core”.

The plenum meeting paves the way for a congress, held every five years, in autumn 2017, at which Xi will further consolidate his power and which could indicate who may replace him at the 2022 congress.

A new standing committee, which currently has seven members and is the pinnacle of power in China, will be announced at the congress.

Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political commentator, said now that Xi was the “core”, things should go more smoothly for him at next year’s congress. But he would have more on the line, given his increased responsibility to answer for economic and social problems facing the leadership.

“If the economy continues to go downhill and the rifts in society become more serious, the responsibility of the core is greater,” Zhang said. “Your relative power and authority are greater, everyone is deferring to you. But they will be watching to see if your leadership is good or bad.”

An unofficial campaign to name Xi the “core” has been under way this year, with about two-thirds of provincial leaders referring to him as such in speeches, according to figures compiled by Reuters, before the plenum formally accorded him the title.

Steve Tsang, professor of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham, said that although Xi remained in a strong position, there was still a year to go before the congress. “There’s still a lot of unanswered questions. Will his successor be named? Will Xi get a third term?”

Judging by recent past precedent, Xi should step down at the 2022 congress after a decade at the top, but speculation in leadership circles has swirled that he may try to stay on, perhaps giving up the post as president but remaining as party leader, the more senior of the posts.

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Chinese Communist Party expands Xi Jinping’s political power, anointing him ‘core’ leader

The South China Morning Post
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President’s elevated status will enable him to exert more influence on reshuffles at the top at next year’s party congress

Friday, October 28, 2016, 12:23am

Members of the Central Committee vote during their sixth plenum in Beijing this week. Photo: Xinhua
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With his new core status, Xi is expected to play a more dominant role in orchestrating next year’s reshuffles – a sharp contrast to Hu’s position 10 years ago.

Next year’s congress will see the election of more than 300 full members and alternate Central Committee members. Up to 11 seats on the 25-strong Politburo will also be vacated, including up to five members of the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee who are expected to retire.

Unlike the official title “general secretary”, the term “core” and its powers are not defined by party regulations.

Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said the new reference meant Xi was guaranteed to have unchallenged authority in the party.

“It means Xi has the final veto power. It’s the official crowning of his real power,” Zhang said. “It also means the end of the last ‘core’, Jiang Zemin. There can’t be two cores in the party.”

It means Xi has the final veto power. It’s the official crowning of his real power
ZHANG LIFAN, ANALYST
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Jiang, 90, is widely believed to have exercised influence in mainland politics since his official retirement in 2004 and has been seen in public recently.

But Zhang said Xi’s crowning moment also comes with uncertainties. “It’s unclear if all senior leaders will obey him and it would mean more responsibility for him, including the downward economic pressure and rising social conflicts,” he said.

The communiqué also singled out members of the Central Committee, the Politburo and the innermost Politburo Standing Committee as the prime targets for the new conduct rules, making it clear that senior cadres would be judged on whether they toed the line on party positions.

Senior cadres must not fudge their stand on fundamental matters
CENTRAL COMMITTEE COMMUNIQUE
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“Senior cadres must not fudge their stand on fundamental matters, must not waiver on their political stance, must not be affected by incorrect ideology,” it said.

It said no organisation or individual was above party discipline and the party strictly forbade anyone from bargaining with the party or disobeying its decisions.

To stem corruption, the party would address election fraud and end the buying and selling of official posts and vote rigging.

Leading officials were banned from using their positions to seek benefits for friends and family, it said.

On the party’s internal political life, the statement said the party would unswervingly continue its collective leadership system and the senior leadership had to consult party members on ­major policies.

The communique said a Central Committee full member and three alternate members had been expelled from the party, while two alternate members had been promoted to full members.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2040675/chinese-communist-party-expands-xi-jinpings-political

Hong Kong’s Missing Booksellers

January 20, 2016

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By LIAN YI-ZHENG

January 20, 2016

A Hong Kong publisher specializing in books banned in China has disappeared mysteriously, sowing fear among Hong Kongers that the Chinese government is growing bolder about encroaching on their liberties. As the saga continues to unfold, Beijing is reacting bizarrely, and in ways that suggest that the story is the extension of a long-running power struggle at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party.

Mighty Current is an obscure Hong Kong publishing company that churns out gossipy titles about China and its top leaders. On Dec. 30, Lee Bo, 65, an editor at the company, received a phone order for a dozen books, including several about the private life of President Xi Jinping. That evening he went to get the books in a warehouse in a quiet part of town. He never returned. Two of the company’s co-owners and two employees had disappeared before him, one after the other, beginning last October.

Within days of his disappearance, Mr. Lee called his wife, and faxed a message to colleagues saying he was “O.K.” and had gone to China “in his own way.” This was ominous, for his wife had found Mr. Lee’s travel documents at home; she began to worry that he had been abducted and forcibly brought to the mainland by Chinese government operatives.

Causeway Bay book shop. Photo credit Sam Tsang, SCMP

Concern deepened after the mainstream Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao reported that the local police were in possession of footage from surveillance cameras at the book warehouse showing Mr. Lee being shadowed by strangers as he walks into an elevator. A witness claims to have seen him being forced into a car by several men and driven off.

Gui Minhai, one of Mr. Lee’s missing colleagues, who left his home in Thailand under extremely suspicious circumstances a few months ago, appeared earlier this week on Chinese state TV, in China, looking sullen and mouthing an implausible mea culpa about voluntarily returning to the mainland because of a deadly car accident many years ago.

The case of the disappearing booksellers has touched a nerve in Hong Kong: Once again, the Chinese authorities seem willing to violate the territory’s Basic Law, its mini constitution since 1997, which guarantees Hong Kongers various political rights, many unavailable in China. Those rights include freedom from arbitrary arrests, especially by Chinese law enforcement agents. They also include the right to eventually elect Hong Kong’s top leader, the chief executive, by universal suffrage: It was Beijing’s attempt to undermine that right that set off the Umbrella Movement in 2014.

Leung Chun-ying, the current chief executive, who is widely regarded as a Communist Party minion, has done little to quiet Hong Kongers’ anxieties. On Jan. 5, hard pressed and visibly embarrassed, he appealed to Mr. Lee “to come forward and reveal what had happened.” Angered by this evasiveness and hypocrisy, several thousand people marched through the Central District of Hong Kong on Jan. 10, demanding that Mr. Leung press mainland authorities for an explanation.

The official response from the Chinese government has been baffling. Several articles and editorials in the Global Times, an ultranationalistic Communist Party newspaper in Beijing, have claimed that the Hong Kong publishers violated Chinese law and were subject to arrest for selling books banned in China that were then brought to the mainland. (Communist Party officials themselves are known to be avid readers of such political gossip.)

The Global Times has also argued that China’s “coercive power-wielding departments” could resort to covert, extraterritorial enforcement so long as they did not “tie up a captive like a major criminal, manhandle him into a car and drive across the border.” The statement came across as another expression of the Chinese government’s blatant disregard for the Basic Law, and it further fanned anti-Beijing passions in Hong Kong.

Then the story took an intriguing turn. Citing sources close to the central government, two Hong Kong newspapers in good standing with Beijing, Sing Tao Daily and the Hong Kong Economic Times, claimed that the Global Times did not represent the views of the Communist Party leadership and that its statements had damaged China’s image.

Why would there be two conflicting accounts of the same story from known proxies of the Chinese government?

Perhaps because the very top of the Communist Party itself is split. During and after his long tenure as the party’s general secretary and China’s president, Jiang Zemin was known to be at odds with Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, later the country’s president and prime minister, respectively. Tensions carried over to Mr. Xi, who in turn became president with the backing of Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen.

Bo Xilai, a princeling and Jiang protégé, was purged during the final days of the Hu-Wen rule. After Mr. Xi became president in 2012, Zhou Yongkang — security czar, member of the politburo’s standing committee and a Jiang man — was sidelined on corruption charges.

The Falun Gong’s theology, or its claim that the Chinese authorities are harvesting human organs, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the spiritual movement has often proved correct in its analysis of power plays in Beijing. According to a recent article in Epoch Times, a Falun Gong publication, even as Mr. Xi has tried to muffle so-called small channel news, political gossip supposedly leaked from the inner circles of the Communist Party, the Jiang faction has continued to feed Mr. Lee and his partners juicy stories about the Xi family.

Indeed, among the books Mr. Lee was picking up when he disappeared was one titled “The Six Women of Xi Jinping.” (A previous marriage of Mr. Xi’s ended in divorce, and his current wife was chosen from the cultural troupe of the People’s Liberation Army, which is often derisively portrayed as a harem for top Communist Party officials.) Mr. Lee’s wife was a long-time columnist at Ta Kung Pao, one of two official Communist Party newspapers in Hong Kong, which published gushing stories about Zhou Yongkang. (Her column was abruptly suspended recently.)

Of course, many Hong Kongers care little about the details of Mr. Lee’s political connections. What matters to them is that his suspected abduction represents yet another attack on their freedoms, and yet another sign that the “one country, two systems” formula that supposedly protects Hong Kong’s autonomy from Beijing is steadily being eroded.

The fear and outrage that is spreading in Hong Kong is feeding anti-Communist and separatist sentiments there. This should worry Beijing, and so should the condemnation it has received from Western governments. (Mr. Gui is a naturalized Swedish citizen, and Mr. Lee holds a British passport.) But the fallout was also so predictable that one wonders how China’s leaders, supposedly grandmasters of strategic machination, went about this political calculus.

The Chinese government’s questionable management of its financial markets recently has already suggested that it is seriously disconnected from reality. And now it is using brute force to snuff out a tiny Hong Kong publisher of two-bit political gossip. Is the Communist Party simply becoming more ruthless in quashing dissenting voices, or is its political judgment slipping?

Lian Yi-zheng is a columnist on economic and political issues for the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 21, 2016, in The International New York Times. Today’s Paper|Subscribe

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/opinion/hong-kongs-missing-booksellers.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

See also:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/20/world/asia/hong-kong-missing-booksellers.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=RelatedCoverage&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

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The love life of Xi Jinping is the focus of an unpublished manuscript believed to be behind the disappearance of five men connected to a political bookstore in Hong Kong, a Hong Kong academic and politician claim.

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The book’s title was being debated by the publisher before the abductions, Willy Wo-lap Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Quartz, citing a source within Mighty Current, the publishing house that owns the book store.

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The two choices were: The Lovers of Xi Jinping or Xi Jinping and His Six Women, Lam said, but no decision had been made yet. Lam, a veteran China watcher, is also the author of a series of books analyzing China’s top leaders. His latest publication is Chinese Politics in the Era of Xi Jinping.

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The book covers Xi’s life between 1985 and 2002, when he held various official posts in the southern Fujian province, including the first 15 of his marriage to Peng Liyuan in 1987, Lam said.

On Sunday (Jan. 3) Hong Kong lawmaker Albert Ho told a press conference an upcoming book about a “girlfriend” of Xi’s from several years ago was behind the men’s disappearance.

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It is unclear whether the book alleges Xi had an extramarital affair. As part of his crackdown on corruption since he took office in 2012, Xi has led an anti-corruption campaign that made adultery grounds for banishment from the Communist Party. This past October, those rules were changed to forbid “improper sexual relationships with others,” a tweak that state-run news agency Xinhua said makes “the regulation stricter.”

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A prominent Chinese folk singer, Peng was much more famous than Xi when they got married, Lam said. Peng was still based in Beijing while Xi served in Fujian, and the couple didn’t live together for over a decade until Xi was promoted the party chief of the neighboring Zhejiang province, Lam said.

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Last week’s disappearance of Lee Bo, an employee at the Causeway Bay Bookstore, has brought international attention to mysterious case of the five missing men. Hong Kong democratic politicians including Ho believe they have been abducted by mainland Chinese security officials.

Hong Kong is guaranteed freedom of speech under the Basic Law written as part of the city’s handover from Britain to China, and small local publishers have a tradition of publishing books critical of the Chinese Communist Party. The quality and accuracy of these so-called “banned books” varies, with some just gossipy fabrications, and others later proved to be true. Nonetheless, they are popular with mainland Chinese tourists.

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China’s state-backed tabloid Global Times said in an editorial this week that the bookstore sells books that contain “maliciously fabricated content,” which enter the mainland, become the source of political rumors and “have caused some evil influence to some extent.” A Chinese-language version of the same editorial also accuses the bookstore of harming the “harmony and stability” of mainland society.

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After his disappearance, Lee reportedly faxed a letter to his colleague to say he is safe and is voluntarily assisting in an investigation with Chinese authorities. Hong Kong officials are concerned mainland officials are trying to illegally enforce mainland laws in Hong Kong, despite a promise the city operates under “one country, two systems.”

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Because Lee holds a British passport, his disappearance has raised some diplomatic tensions. The UK has asked Chinese and Hong Kong authorities about his whereabouts and urged the Hong Kong government to honor its “commitment” to press freedom. Swedish officials are investigating the disappearance of China-born Swedish national Gui Minhai, who owns the publishing company and has been missing for months.

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China’s foreign minister Wang Yi warned on Tuesday (Jan. 5) that other countries had “no right to interfere” with the affairs in Hong Kong, and that Lee is “first and foremost a Chinese citizen.”

A book linked to the disappearance of Hong Kong booksellers focuses on Xi Jinping’s “six women”

Beijing’s Communist Party deputy chief probed for graft

November 11, 2015

AFP

With corruption widespread in China, critics say the lack of transparency surrounding President Xi Jinping’s campaign means that graft investigations are used for political infighting

BEIJING (AFP) – China’s ruling Communist Party has launched a probe into its deputy Beijing chief, it said Wednesday, with reports calling her the most senior woman to fall in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive.Lu Xiwen, 60, is being investigated on suspicion of “serious disciplinary violations”, the Communist Party’s internal anti-graft body said on its website, using a phrase that normally refers to corruption.

Lu is also a vice mayor of the capital and an alternate member of the ruling party’s Central Committee.

The announcement by the Central Commission for Discipline and Inspection came a day after it said it was probing Ai Baojun, a Shanghai vice mayor and a director of China’s first free trade zone in the city.

The investigations come as part of a high-profile crackdown on graft by President Xi that has deposed several senior officials, notably former security chief Zhou Yongkang.

With corruption widespread in China, critics say the lack of transparency surrounding Xi’s campaign means that graft investigations are used for political infighting.

Women are rare in the upper levels of Chinese politics, and state-run media said Lu was the highest ranking female official probed since Xi came to power.

Internal investigations into high-level party officials operate without judicial oversight. Once announced, they are likely to lead to a sacking followed by criminal prosecution and jail sentence.

The probe into Ai, 55, was seen as marking the entry of Xi’s campaign into the Chinese commercial hub, a stronghold of his political rival and former president Jiang Zemin.

A Chinese policeman walks pass a court on April 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO/GOH CHAI HIN

Beijing bristles at US warning over Chinese agents in the U.S. on “Operation Fox Hunt”

August 18, 2015

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Despite the diplomatic warning issued by the Obama administration demanding Chinese agents cease from operating on American soil, China is proceeding with its quest to repatriate Ling Wancheng and other fugitives hiding in the United States and other nations, according to the New York Times on Aug. 17.

Ling Wancheng is the brother of Ling Jihua, the former head of the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department who is currently under investigation for corruption. The Chinese government desperately wants Ling back as he is believed to hold private and potentially damaging information on the nation’s top leaders including Xi Jinping and his predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin. He may use those “core secrets” to protect his brother and other family members.

Under the codename Operation Fox Hunt, agents are dispatched to put pressure on the operation’s targets — fugitive officials accused of economic crimes — to persuade them it would be in their interests to return home to face the charges against them. Ling Wancheng is considered a critical liability to China’s national interests and as such is one of the key targets of Operation Fox Hunt, though he is a businessman rather than an official. Pursuing him on American soil however could constitute a violation of American law, according to the New York Times, as foreign agents are required first to obtain permission from the attorney general.

After the Obama administration ordered Chinese law enforcement personnel to leave the US homeland, China’s state newswire Xinhua immediately accused Washington of undermining Beijing’s crackdown on corruption and said the US government is breaking its bilateral law enforcement agreements with Beijing for sending such a warning. The news agency further accused Washington of being reluctant to repatriate corrupt officials for the sake of their money.

The United States does not have a formal extradition agreement with China due to its concerns about the lack of due process and judicial independence under the Communist Party government and the use of torture by Chinese authorities to extract confessions. Beijing’s refusal to disavow covert activities in the United States is likely to escalate tensions between Washington and Beijing ahead of a state visit by President Xi Jinping next month.

http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20150818000132&cid=1101

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Obama administration officials have reportedly warned China against masterminding a covert operation in the US which involves Chinese agents pressuring expatriates to return home.

In what has been codenamed “Operation Fox Hunt”, China’s clandestine operatives are attempting to force high-profile Chinese nationals, mostly fugitives, to leave the US and return home.

According to the New York Times, which cited unnamed American officials, the operation is part of a global campaign launched by the Chinese government. The report went on to say the US State Department had also issued a warning against the agents’ activities.

The Beijing-nominated undercover operatives are also working on recovering the assets reportedly embezzled by the fugitives through corruption. The US action is widely seen as a warning to the Chinese government that Washington is aware of the clandestine activities rather than as a retaliatory measure.

Some of the pressure tactics used against the expatriates includes threat that their relatives at home could come to harm.

Operation Fox Hunt is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s wider pledge to crack down on corruption, which has found a strong resonance among the public.

Under the clandestine programme, which is operated by China’s Ministry of Public Security, more than 930 suspects from across the world have been repatriated to China in one year, the Times reported.

Neither the Chinese ministries nor the US departments have formally commented on the allegations. The latest assertions are, nonetheless, likely to have an effect on Xi’s upcoming to visit to Washington in September.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/obama-administration-warns-against-chinas-operation-fox-hunt-us-1515728

Soviet lessons for Chinese purges

August 17, 2015

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By Minxin Pei 斐敏欣
Taipei Times

On Aug. 1, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) celebrated its 88th anniversary. However, the country’s 2.3 million soldiers had little to cheer about.

On the eve of the anniversary, the PLA’s former top general, Guo Boxiong (郭伯雄), was unceremoniously booted out of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and handed over to military prosecutors to face corruption charges, including allegations that he took bribes from fellow PLA officers in exchange for promotions. Guo might not be the last PLA officer to face such charges.

As Central Military Commission vice-chairman, Guo was in charge of the military’s day-to-day affairs from 2002 to 2012. His arrest followed the arrest in June last year of General Xu Caihou (徐才厚), who served on the commission from 2007 to 2012.

Guo and Xu are not the only senior officers to have fallen since their commander-in-chief, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), launched his war on corruption at the end of 2012. Based on official data, 39 generals — including Guo’s son, Rear Admiral Guo Zhenggang (郭正鋼) — have already been arrested. And if there is merit to the allegations that a large number of generals bribed Guo and Xu for their promotions, it is reasonable to assume that the most wide-ranging purge of senior PLA officers since China’s Cultural Revolution is set to continue.

That is precisely the message Xi sent to the military in a recent speech to the 16th army group, for which Xu served as political commissar in the early 1990s. After vowing to eradicate Xu’s influence, “ideologically, politically, and also in terms of organization and work style,” Xi said that disobedience to the party leadership would not be tolerated.

The army must “resolutely conform to orders from the CCP’s Central Committee and the Central Military Commission,” Xi said.

Anyone who has been watching Xi over the past two-and-a-half years could discern his goal of consolidating CCP rule in China by strengthening his personal authority, reinvigorating domestic repression and pursuing an assertive foreign policy. To achieve this goal, Xi needs to secure the PLA’s unimpeachable loyalty — and that requires the purge of unreliable or corrupt officers.

On a personal level, the PLA’s loyalty is vital to make up for Xi’s lack of an institutional power base. By contrast, when former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) became CCP general secretary following the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, he was able to rely on capable and loyal officials in Shanghai to run the bureaucracy; he then expanded his support base by co-opting other factions in the 1990s. Jiang’s successor, Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), hailed from the Communist Youth League, which has alumni at all levels of the party-state.

While Xi works to build a strong power base by gradually appointing his supporters to key positions, he needs the PLA to defend his political authority in the interim. The most efficient way for Xi to secure the PLA’s loyalty is to replace its top generals — most of whom were promoted by previous presidents — with his own supporters.

It seems that the lesson from the fall of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1964 was not lost on Xi. Khrushchev was ousted in a palace coup sponsored by the KGB and blessed by the military. Had the Red Army been completely loyal to Khrushchev, the conspirators would not have succeeded.

However, Xi’s plans extend beyond his personal authority — and so do the lessons of the Soviet Union. Shortly after Xi’s assumption of power, he lamented to local officials in Guangdong, China, that when the Soviet Union collapsed, the elite had lost the will to fight. At a time when the CCP’s political monopoly is increasingly being challenged, Xi is not expected to make that mistake.

To avoid the same fate as the Soviet Union, Xi and his colleagues have reimposed ideological control and curtailed civil liberties. While the CCP has so far employed only the police and Internet censors (and now wants to embed secret policemen within all Internet companies), its long-term survival is inconceivable without a loyal PLA, especially if protests like those in Tiananmen Square in 1989 erupt again.

The final pillar of Xi’s strategy for solidifying the CCP’s authority is to replace former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s (鄧小平) cautious foreign policy with a more muscular one. Should China have to back its aggressive tactics in, say, the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait with force, its military must not be led by venal and perfidious generals.

If Xi’s efforts to root out corruption in the PLA can accomplish these three objectives, one must grudgingly admit that it is a stroke of political genius. However, to ensure that China is in the strongest possible position, Xi must learn one more lesson from the Soviets: Purges can easily lead to excesses. Former Soviet leader Josef Stalin annihilated the Red Army’s officer corps on the eve of Nazi Germany’s invasion. Xi cannot afford to make the same mistake.

Minxin Pei is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.

Project Syndicate

Criticism of China’s Leaders Not Welcome — Even By Former Leaders

August 10, 2015

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Article comes as serving and retired state leaders gather at Beidaihe resort for informal meeting to set the policy tone for the coming year

By Zhuang Pinghui and Andrea Chen
South China Morning Post

A signed commentary in the official Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily has criticised retired officials who continue to exert their influence in government departments.

The article comes as serving and retired state leaders gather at the Hebei resort of Beidaihe for an informal meeting, where they will set the policy tone for the coming year.

The event is also an occasion during which retired leaders can extend their influence.

The commentary did not specify which former leaders were continuing to wield influence, but observers said it indicated the top party leadership want to minimise the impact cast by retired officials.

Some retired officials were using their influence with former subordinates to intervene in crucial decisions long after they had retired, the commentary said.

“They not only installed their associates to create conditions for them to exert influence in future, … but are also not willing to keep their hands off major issues of the organisation they previously worked for even many years after stepping down,” it said.

When decisions were made against their wishes, they would accuse serving officials of being superior and aloof, the article said, adding that such lingering influence put their successors in an awkward position and weakened party cohesion.

The mainland’s opaque political system has long allowed retired leaders to continue to wield significant power,  which the leadership found displeasing, said Beijing-based political observer Zhang Lifan.

“The message is that the retired elders should stop interfering,” he said, adding that the leadership was aware of challenges to their authority amid the forming of political factions with the support of former leaders.

“The current leadership is facing a lot of resistance, and now it wants to put a stop on retired people pointing fingers.”

The People’s Daily commentary was published days after state-owned magazine Economy and Nation Weekly, under Xinhua, claimed that party leaders were in Beidaihe mainly to visit experts and model workers on holiday there. It said many policy issues had been settled prior to the gathering.

A retired professor of the Central Party School said the Beidaihe summit was not necessary as President Xi Jinping’s  consolidated power gave him final say in important issues.

Beijing Institute of Technology economics professor Hu Xingdou  said the commentary indicated that “party elders intervening in administration” was coming to an end.

Nanjing University political philosophy professor Gu Su  said the delicately written commentary was referring to both local officials and the central leadership.

Related:

In this March 11, 2012 file photo, Ling Jihua, top left, a loyal aide and confidante to President Hu Jintao, bottom right, sits behind Premier Wen Jiabao, bottom left, and Hu as they attend a plenary session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The top aide to former Chinese President Hu Jintao has been placed under investigation for disciplinary violations, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. The evening announcement came two years after Ling Jihua fell out of political favor when a lurid scandal involving his alleged cover-up of his son’s death in a speeding Ferrari disrupted his political ascent. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File) (The Associated Press)

Former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s extended family has controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion, the New York Times reported, citing corporate and regulatory records and unidentified people familiar with the family’s investments.

 (By David Shambaugh, The Wall Street Journal)

Criticism of China’s Retired Leaders Gets Unusual Attention

August 10, 2015

AFP-JIJI

 
Chinese President Hu Jintao and former President Jiang Zemin raise their hands during the closing session of the 18th National Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in November 2012. | BLOOMBERG

The mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party on Monday carried a rare denunciation of retired leaders’ continued influence, fueling speculation over how far President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign could go.

Xi’s much-publicized drive against corruption has ensnared a long list of senior and junior officials including the country’s former security czar Zhou Yongkang, who was sentenced to life in jail in June.

Zhou is regarded as an ally of former President Jiang Zemin, who ruled from 1989 until 2002 but is believed to have retained significant power throughout the following decade, when Hu Jintao was president.

Jiang Zemin answers a question during a visit to the U.S. in October 2002. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Speculation has circulated over whether Jiang could be targeted by Xi and the party’s internal investigation branch, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

In February the CCDI posted an article online about princely corruption during the Qing dynasty, seen as alluding to Zeng Qinghong, a former vice president and Jiang’s right-hand man.

Monday’s People’s Daily commentary lambasted unnamed “retired leaders” for clinging to power and causing rifts within the party.

“Some leaders not only installed their cronies (in key positions) to create conditions for them to wield influence in future, but also wanted to intervene in the major issues of the organization they formerly worked for, even many years after they retired,” it said.

Such actions made new leaders feel that their “hands and feet” were fettered by having to work within “unnecessary concerns,” it added.

They “also has made some organizations . . . split up into groups and become demoralized . . . undermining the party’s cohesion and capabilities,” said the commentary, written by Gu Bochong.

Gu is an officer with the Chinese military’s General Political Department, according to the website of the China Writers’ Association, of which he is a member.

The People’s Daily did not provide of description of Gu, although it did so for all the other contributors to its “Theory” page, which appears every weekday.

The article compared a leader’s retirement to the waning temperature of a hot drink.

“The tea must cool after the guest left, otherwise it will go bad,” it said. “It should become a norm that when you leave office, you leave your opinions behind.”

The metaphor sparked a wave of allusions on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

“What if the ginger tea just wants to stay as hot as before?” asked one poster. “In that case, it has to be poured away!”

In Mandarin Chinese, ginger is pronounced “jiang.”

Related:

In this March 11, 2012 file photo, Ling Jihua, top left, a loyal aide and confidante to President Hu Jintao, bottom right, sits behind Premier Wen Jiabao, bottom left, and Hu as they attend a plenary session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The top aide to former Chinese President Hu Jintao has been placed under investigation for disciplinary violations, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. The evening announcement came two years after Ling Jihua fell out of political favor when a lurid scandal involving his alleged cover-up of his son’s death in a speeding Ferrari disrupted his political ascent. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File) (The Associated Press)

Former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s extended family has controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion, the New York Times reported, citing corporate and regulatory records and unidentified people familiar with the family’s investments.

 (By David Shambaugh, The Wall Street Journal)