Wed, Aug 02, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Hu working to consolidate power

By Paul Lin 林保華

On July 24, the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) convened a meeting where it was decided that the Sixth Plenary Session of the 16th CCP Central Committee would be held in October. The main event at the session will be the presentation of a Politburo report to the Central Committee on research into the construction of a harmonious society.

Last month's Politburo meeting also discussed and studied China's economic prospects and economic accomplishments.

Following tradition, the CCP will hold its 17th National Congress, at which power will be redistributed, in the autumn of next year. Prior to the congress, the Central Committee will hold its Seventh Plenary Session to make the final arrangements. This means that the personnel arrangements will basically be made at the Central Committee's Sixth Plenary Session this October.

As a result, infighting and power struggles in the CCP are bound to intensify.

Five years ago, former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) led the CCP's 16th National Congress, where he arranged for his supporters to serve in the highest policy-making body so that they could pressure President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

Hu is always preaching the importance of harmony, but the Chinese public believes that while he speaks about public harmony, he is in fact driving at the disharmony between himself and Jiang. As the CCP's 17th National Congress approaches, these things will become clearer and clearer.

On April 6, Jiang made an appearance at the 110th anniversary celebration of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Top cadres from the CCP's Shanghai branch accompanied Jiang throughout the visit and the university gave him the red-carpet treatment, displaying a huge banner reading "Chairman Jiang, your Alma Mater Welcomes You" and addressing him as "General-Secretary."

The next day, however, the slogan and the title were deleted from a long report that had been posted on the university's Web site.

May 1 marked the first day of China's "golden week" holiday, with millions of tourists traveling around the country. Jiang took the opportunity provided by the holiday to visit Tai Mountain in Shandong Province to admire the sunrise there. As a result of his visit, big groups of tourists were barred from climbing the mountain, thereby letting all Chinese people know that "Chairman Jiang" is still in good health and traveling around the country.

Some Chinese Web sites posted photos of Jiang being carried on a sedan chair flanked by Shandong provincial party Secretary Zhang Gaoli (張高麗).

Outraged by these photos, Hu decided to release former Beijing party chief Chen Xitong (陳希同) from prison on medical parole. Immediately upon his release, Chen, who in 1995 was given a 16-year jail sentence by Jiang for corruption, filed a lawsuit against Jiang for persecution.

Recently, people close to Jiang have been investigated, such as the financial dealings between the wife of Huang Ju (黃菊), a member of the Politburo's Standing Committee, and business tycoons in Shanghai. Given these circumstances, many have started paying close attention to another person close to Jiang, namely Zeng Qinghong (曾慶紅), Chinese vice president and a member of the Politburo's Standing Committee.

Zeng, whose father was a high-ranking CCP cadre, has been called an "ace strategist" within Zhongnanhai. Zeng turns 68 next year, which is the age of retirement given his level within the party. However, according to media reports, Zeng has pledged allegiance to Hu, and will therefore be allowed to remain in his post as a counterweight to Jiang's supporters.

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