Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Jiang desperately clinging to power

By Zhang Weiguo張偉國

In short, the Shanghai clique aims to use the 4th plenary session of the 16th CCP Central Committee to stir up trouble to make Hu and Wen look bad, and maybe even try to have them replaced.

While it might appear to some that Hu and Wen are at the end of their tether, this is not really the case.

I think the people behind these media reports have been deceived by superficial appearances and they don't really understand CCP politics. Nor can we exclude the possibility that the release of all this information has been meticulously planned by the Shanghai clique itself, based on the idea that a good offense is the best defense.

Jiang and his Shanghai clique are faced with an unprecedented challenge. Some CCP leaders are considering asking Jiang to follow the example of Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) and give up his military power and go into retirement. This would eliminate the problems caused by having two power centers and bringing stability to China's political situation. A consensus in support of this suggestion already seems to have formed inside the CCP, and it may therefore become an unavoidable topic for discussion.

However, Jiang is not the only one who believes power is more important than his own life. The Shanghai clique is finding itself faced with too many problems and has incurred widespread resentment. The case of Zhou Zhengyi (周正義) -- a real estate tycoon in Shanghai once ranked as China's 11th-richest man, who was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of fraud and stock manipulation -- and the economic bubble has placed the group in an increasingly passive and difficult political situation. The clique cannot afford to lose the protective cover provided by Jiang.

Their recent series of actions, therefore, have but one aim: to bring media attention to Jiang and the Shanghai clique. They don't even care if they have to commit the greatest of crimes, because in their minds, they must "exist." As long as they are seen in the media, they are telling people (including those with voting rights at the 4th plenary session) that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

This is precisely the purpose with the tension deliberately created in the Taiwan Straits. Given the seriousness of this situation, both internationally and domestically, Jiang cannot be ignored. All these words amount to one thing: Jiang shall stay on as head of the military commission and he will continue to wield his excessive power. Once this is clearly understood, it is not that difficult to see that the actions of Jiang and the Shanghai clique, rather than being an attack on Hu and Wen, are an all-out, last-ditch effort to fight themselves out of a corner.

It should be noticed that the official mouthpieces of the Chinese authorities are even rehashing reports of Jiang's army inspections from a dozen years ago. Apart from proving that Jiang would do anything to remain in the spotlight, were these stories an attempt to indicate his "consistent correctness?" If it was, that would just make the whole situation more interesting, because that would imply that the deterioration of the cross-strait relationship and the constant protests and complaints from Hong Kong over the past seven years are the results of Jiang's "consistently correct" leadership.

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