Mon, Sep 03, 2007 - Page 8 News List

CCP power struggle in focus ahead of congress

By Paul Lin 林保華

With the approach of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) 17th National Congress next month, speculation about changes to the Politburo Standing Committee are rife. Two contradictory reports have emerged. The Aug. 22nd edition of the Chinese-language United Daily News reported that the committee would continue to have nine members: Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), Vice President Zeng Qinghong (曾慶紅) and the committee's chairman, Wu Bangguo (吳邦國), as well as Li Keqiang (李克強), Jia Qinglin (賈慶林), Li Changchun (李長春), Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲) and Zhou Yongkang (周永康).

The Hong Kong Cable News Channel, on the other hand, reported that the committee would decrease to seven people: Hu, Wen, Zeng, Li, Wang Zhaoguo (王兆國), Zhang Dejiang (張德江) and Wang Gang (王剛).

Such large discrepancies between the reports have been relatively rare at previous congresses. Yet both lists came from authoritative sources in Beijing. How many authoritative sources or headquarters are there in Beijing, and do they communicate with each other?

Regardless of the differences between the two lists, the four names on both lists are certainly irreplaceable members of the committee. This year, former president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) is no longer a player. Eyes are watching the power struggle between Hu and Zeng.

Key positions people will be vying for this year are the secretarial seats of the Central Commission of Political Science and Law and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Because the CCP's power struggle often involves claims that those vying for power are "fighting corruption," whoever wins these seats wins the right to lash out at anyone as they like.

These two posts are separate in a nine-person standing committee, but if the committee goes down to seven members, they will be combined.

Among the members of the 16th National Congress, Secretary of the Central Commission of Political Science and Law Luo Gan (羅幹) is allied with Jiang.

Wu Guanzheng (吳官正) -- secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which deals with party officials -- has switched his allegiance to Hu, which means that attempts to control Jiang's Shanghai clique have been successful and Hu's power has been consolidated ahead of the congress.

If the standing committee retains nine seats, the new secretary of the Central Commission of Political Science and Law should be Zhou. The new secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection could be Yu.

Zhou is Zeng's brother-in-law and Yu is one of the "princelings," a term that refers to the children of the ruling elite. He is allied with Zeng. This arrangement would be unfavorable to Hu because it would give Zeng the upper hand.

But if a seven-member list is released, Zeng may become the chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, while Wang Gang would be the choice candidate for secretary of both the Central Commission of Political Science and Law and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Wang is the director of the General Office of the CCP Central Committee and is the power closest in alliance to the CCP's general secretary. Even though he was appointed by Jiang, Wang has switched his alliance to Hu -- otherwise Hu would not have kept him for five years.

The seven-member list seems more likely, considering the power struggles taking place behind the scenes, but as the highest-ups jostle tooth and nail for their alliances, anything is possible.

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