In Reuters Analysis titled “Analysis of China’s next inner circle”, foreign media again shows its ignorance about China.
However, the ignorance is natural. There are three black boxes in China’s power center. Elaborated description of them will be given in the second edition of my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Analysis”.
Even the first black box, the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), is difficult enough to penetrate. No wonder it is so difficult for Chinese and foreign China watchers to see through.
The second black box, the group of powerful elders who are heads and important heavyweights of various factions are even more difficult to penetrate.
As a result, Reuters is only able to be correct in regarding Jiang Zemin’s “Shanghai Gang” as the dominant faction now, but it is entirely wrong in predicting that the “Tuanpai”, i.e. the Communist Youth League (CYL) faction will take over after five of Jiang’s protégés in the PSC retire in 2007.
Reuters says, “Of the 14 members in the 25-member Politburo eligible for another term in 2017, nine have worked in the Communist Youth League and are considered to be protégés or allies of Hu. Only five are known to have ties with Jiang.
“Communist Youth League experience is even more prevalent among provincial-level Party chiefs.”
In Chapter 7 of my book I said, “A high-ranking official usually appoints and promotes quite a lot of his people to official posts when he is in power. Those people together with the officials appointed and promoted by them are bound together by comradeship, friendship and common interests and aspiration and become a faction.”
Of course, Hu is fond of promoting people of CYL background, but whether those he promoted can form a faction united and combat strong is another question.
What required is not only common background and interest but more importantly comradeship, friendship and common aspiration.
Even when Hu was in the office of the general secretary, he could not urge the CYL faction members he had promoted to pay attention to his priorities: corruption and pollution. As a result, Hu was attacked by Shanghai faction heavyweight Zhu Rongji in 2010 and 2011 for rampant official corruption throughout the nation.
Hu’s failure to rally those with CYL background around him is reflected in the problems he left behind for which he was blasted by the Deng Yewen, a senior editor of the Party mouthpiece Study Times on September 4, 2012.
In fact, Hu’s Scientific Outlook on Development has won Jiang’s support and at first he had the potential to become the leader of the Shanghai faction to succeed Jiang. However, he turned out incompetent to establish a team of competent associates to deal with the problems he was aware of and wanted to resolve.
Jiang’s strong point is his ability to discover talents and build up bondage with them. As a result, those who share the aspirations of Three Represents and Scientific Outlook on Development, including Li Keqiang, Xi Jinping, Wang Qishan, Yu Zhengsheng, etc. have all become his associates no matter what their origins are.
His faction has taken into it quite a few of the new generation of scholars with moral integrity, while we do not see that in any other factions.
Jiang’s is a faction with strong comradeship, friendship, common interest and aspiration and is therefore very strong, but it does not have a large number of members.
Hu’s CYL faction is large, but its members fail to share Hu’s interest and aspirations so that Hu will not become a powerful elder when he retires.
Hu’s lack of strength was obvious reflected during the election at the 18th Congress in his failures to promote his protégés Li Yuanchao and Wang Yang into the PSC or Zhou Qiang and Ling Jihua into the Politburo or even have his personal aide Chen Shiju elected a member or alternate member of CCP Central Committee.
Then there is the princeling faction.
Reuters says “A third group has also ascended rapidly – the princelings, or privileged children of revolutionary leaders. Key princelings include Xi and Politburo Standing Committee members Yu Zhengsheng, Wang Qishan and Zhang Dejiang.”
Princelings may form a group based on their origin, but a loose one without enough loyalty to the group. In fact, two of the heavyweights in the group Xi Jinping and Bo Xilai are deadly foes not because of their rivalry for succession, but due to their entirely different aspirations.
In fact, the Xi, Yu, Wang and Zhang mentioned by Reuters are all important members of Jiang’s Shanghai faction.
Will Xi Jinping be merely a consensus builder?
When Jiang Zeming was appointed the general secretary, most China watchers and even Zhao Ziyang regarded him as a transitional figure. Later, he was regarded as a consensus builder. However, they have now realized that Jiang remains the dominant core of the CCP’s third generation of collective leadership.
Is Xi Jinping a consensus builder? He was in the past, but in the future he has to be a strong consensus imposer instead of a helpless consensus seeker.
In early September, when the powerful elders were not able to reach consensus on the candidates for the PSC and Politburo, the manner to punish Bo Xilai or even the date of the 18th Congress, Xi was mysteriously absent to meet the powerful elders in secret and enabled them to have consensus on all those issues. Soon after Xi reappeared on September 15, Jiang Zemin came to Beijing and presided over a Politburo meeting to make decisions on all those issues including the tricky issue of punishing Bo Xilai harshly. Xi proved himself a talented consensus builder among his superiors.
Xi’s activities during his absence are described in the second edition of my book. As it will soon be published, I will not elaborate here. It is in fact too long for this post.
Xi is to deal with rampant corruption and purge the CCP to prevent the CCP’s collapse. If he is as weak a leader as Hu Jintao, he is doomed to failure. He has proved himself a competent leader and Jiang Zemin has made up his mind to let Xi succeed him as the core of the CCP collective leadership. Xi will have firm control of the party and state after he has purged the Party. By that time quite a few of his associates will appear as rising stars on China’s political scene.
Being well aware of that trend, Jiang made the arrangement that all the five 18th PSC members appointed by him will retire at the 19th Congress.
The conservatives are the largest faction in number, but they do not have a leader who can rally them around him. Bo Xilai was their leader but he has fallen into disgrace. Tiananmen butcher Li Peng has become increasingly unpopular in the faction. He was given the cold shoulder at the 18th congress and his son got the least votes when elected as an alternative member of the CCP Central Committee. What a shame! Song Ping is the most senior member, but he is too old to lead the faction.
Qiao Shi’s legal faction remains strong. Qiao though a Presidium Standing Committee member, did not attend the 18th Congress, but two of his associates were active elders there. His faction together with Wu Bangguo of Shanghai faction were the first to bring down Bo Xilai.
The secret security department similar to KGB in former Soviet Union is the third black box entirely impossible to penetrate.
For many years before his retirement, Qiao Shi had been in charge of China’s secret security department, an organization that plays the role of both CIA and FBI in China. He was in charge of spying on all the domestic officials. In China, an official in charge of this kind of job usually does not retire. No one knows whether Qiao retired from that position when he retired from all other government and CCP positions.
We all know that the secret security department including the secret police is a very powerful secret network. Its head performs his leadership mostly in secret. A top official may be spied on by him in secret and brought down when he has submitted to the PSC the evidence collected by him. In Russia, the communist party has lost power but the KGB remains powerful and has one of its member serving as Russian president now.
SCMP’s Cary Huang reports from Beijing: “A lengthy People’s Daily piece yesterday praising controversial former premier Li Peng is being seen as the latest attempt by party elders to flex their political muscles during sensitive talks to finalise the party’s next leadership line-up.
“The article, which ran for nearly a full page in the party’s main mouthpiece, extolled the virtues of Li’s efforts to speed up economic development and overhaul state-owned enterprises. It was written by He Chunlin, who served as secretary general of the National People’s Congress, while Li, 83, was its chairman between 1998 and 2003.”
On July 12, People’s Daily already ran a full-page article about Li Peng’s new books on macroeconomics. The full-page article extolling Li Peng on People’s Daily yesterday proves not only Li Peng’s remnant influence in making central media publish the article but also his anxiety to affect the coming reshuffle.
This is a very interesting new development in China’s political scene with faction leaders busily coming out in limelight ahead of major reshuffle.
3 Factions Come Out in Limelight before Reshuffle dated August 3
SCMP: Li Peng’s thoughts get a big airing dated July 12
Rule of Law and Democracy Advocator Qiao Shi Returns dated June 22
The Mystery of Former Premier Breaking Silence dated January 29
In its report “Jiang ‘flexing muscles’ via media”, SCMP says, “Former president Jiang Zemin’s recent unusual and frequent public appearances show he still wields considerable power over the transition to a new leadership later this year, analysts say.”
According to SCMP, Jiang has made three forays into the public eye in one week, all covered by the media: He telephoned the city party chief of his hometown, Yangzhou in Jiangsu province, following a mild earthquake; sent flowers to the funeral of former propaganda chief Ding Guangen and has a history textbook with his preface published. Broadcaster CCTV carried a report on the book in its prime-time evening news.
In my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements”, there is a section with the heading “China’s Faction Politics” in which, I say, “As mentioned in Chapter 7, a high-ranking official usually appoints and promotes quite a lot of his people to official posts when he is in power. Those people together with the officials appointed and promoted by them are bound together by comradeship, friendship and common interests and aspiration. They become a faction led by the high-ranking official. When the high-ranking official has retired, he still has his faction under his control and thus becomes an elder with great influence. He will interfere for the interests of his faction whenever possible if necessary. When it comes to the decisions at a Party Congress on candidates for members of Central Committee, Politburo and its Standing Committee, Central Military Commissions and Party Secretariat and other senior posts, all the retired elders who have been dormant, will come out to take part in the bargaining behind the scene because it affects the balance of strength among various factions and concerns the interest of not only them but also the large number of their faction members.”
As for the coming 18th congress, as far back as on January 18, former premier Zhu Rongji broke his silence and gave a 9-minute impromptu speech to Shanghai’s bureau-level officials, in which he recalled his work in Shanghai under the leadership of former President Jiang Zemin and what he once said then: “We will have a satisfactory clean government in Shanghai and Shanghai will be able to achieve successes however great if only we watch closely our 506 bureau-level officials and give play to their talents.”
Zhu hinted that the current leaders were less competent than leaders of the Shanghai faction with Jiang as their head in overcoming corruption and giving play to officials’ talents. (See my post “The Mystery of Former Premier Breaking Silence” dated January 29). Jiang’s Shanghai faction was the first to come out.
Later, Qiao Shi, 87, published on June 20 his 440,000-character book on democracy and rule of law. Official media gave front-page coverage on the publication, disclosing that editors in the official People’s Daily spent two years in preparing the book. A press conference was held at the Great Hall of the People to promote the book. (See my post “Rule of Law and Democracy Advocator Qiao Shi Returns” dated June 22.)
Since Qiao Shi’s NPC and Legal faction has come out in the limelight, Li Peng, the head of another influential faction was certainly unwilling to remain out of limelight. On July 11, People’s Daily ran a full-page article about former premier Li Peng’s new books on macroeconomics. (See my post “SCMP: Li Peng’s thoughts get a big airing” on July 12).
Jiang Zemin, the head of the most powerful Shanghai faction, certainly had to give shows now when internal bargaining for high posts is reaching a fever pitch now.
It is not something unusual. Jiang made a similar gesture ahead of the last party congress in 2007.
It is good that factions have come out in the open. The Chinese Communist Party is now too huge, powerful and popular. It has over 80 million members and controls the troops and state-owned economic sector that dominate Chinese economy. It has greatly raised people’s living standards, established a social security network for over 95% of Chinese people and plans to build 36 million subsidized housing units from 2011 to 2015 for poor urban and migrant workers.
Since it is impossible at present to substitute a multi-party system for the one-party system and since Jiang Zemin has turned the party into a party of the whole people, democracy and human rights fighters have to join the party and strive for intraparty democracy. When the various factions keep on coming out in the open, with intraparty democracy, their competition within the party will become a multi-faction competition similar to the multi-party competition in the West.
My book gives quite a detailed description about the preparations and process of the coup d’état by talented scholars with moral integrity to transform the CCP by substituting intellectuals’ dominance of the CCP for workers’ and peasant’s dominance. Democracy fighters shall follow those scholars’ example, join the CCP and transform it for democracy and human rights.
That will be a feasible way to achieve democracy in China.
So far there are five major factions in the CCP, Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai faction and Qiao Shi’s and Li Peng’s factions, Hu Jintao’s CYL (Communist Youth League) faction and Bo Xilai’s conservative factions that advocates Maoism.
In the CCP, democracy fighters can find allies in Qiao Shi’s and CYL factions and have to fight against Bo Xilai’s and Li Peng’s conservative faction. As for the Shanghai faction, I describe in my book a secret meeting of those who might later become its members that they advocated democracy but believed conditions for democracy should be created for democracy when they had seized power.
I believe that the most important conditions are the rule of law and human rights especially freedom of expression and freedom of press. Therefore, democracy fighters have to fight for the rule of law and human rights that have been written into China’s constitution. They have to learn from Martin Luther King Jr’s example to conduct non-violent struggle for the rule of law and human rights. They have to join the CCP and strive for intraparty democracy which has also been written into the CCP’s constitution.
For details of SCMP’s report, please visit SCMP at:
SCMP’s Cary Huang reports from Beijing, “In a rare move, People’s Daily ran a full-page article yesterday about former premier Li Peng’s new books on macroeconomics, as well as a commentary criticising mainstream Western economic thinking.
“The article on Li’s books comes at a politically sensitive time, ahead of a party congress this autumn that will see a once-in-a-decade transfer of power.
“There is also revived debate about the nation’s future, including crucial reforms to market economics.
“Li, a conservative who also served as chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, saw his three volumes published about two weeks ago, just days before the publication of another book by his predecessor, Qiao Shi, a party moderate.”
SCMP says, “While Li’s books – containing 277 reports, speeches, conversation records, articles and notes by Li from 1984 to 2006 – reflect the retired leader’s relatively conservative views on economics, such as his emphasis on the government’s role in regulating the market, Qiao’s book calls for strengthening the rule of law.
“Neither’s works, however, contain anything of a politically sensitive nature or mention of political events such as the bloody June 4, 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, which Li has been accused of masterminding.
“Still, the timing of their books’ publication, as well as the high-profile coverage given them by the party’s mouthpiece, has attracted the attention of China watchers.”
I hailed recent publication of Qiao Shi’s book “Qiao Shi on Democracy and Legal System” in my post “Rule of law and democracy advocator Qiao Shi returns”. Qiao Shi, though retired, has been striving for rule of law all those years.
American well-known journalist Nathan Gardels believes that Qiao played a decisive role in bringing down Bo Xilai for his bad example in undermining the rule of law in Bo’s campaign against organized crime in Chongqing. The campaign gave rise to nationwide malpractices of depriving lawyers rights of defense and caused the NPC (China’s legislature) to revise China’s Criminal Procedure law to protect lawyers’ rights.
Qiao seems to be the only enlightened Chinese leader who has the courage to place rule of law above the party. In his rare interview with Nathan Gardels, Gardels asked him, “will the law ultimately be above the party, or the party above the law?” To the audible gasps of his handlers seated behind us, Qiao replied: “No organization or individual has the prerogative to override the constitution or the law”
Even all his assistants were surprised at Qiao’s reply that law shall be above the party instead of vice versa.
Obviously, publication of Qiao’s book will consolidate the victory against Bo’s faction by the faction in the party that upholds rule of law and provide a theoretical weapon to fight for rule of law in the future. This is especially important because as I point out in my above-mentioned post that Bo said to his Japanese friend “I will return” and as Bo still has lots of followers, he may return and replace rule of law by his despotism in the future.
My previous posts often mentioned the large number of despots in the government and prevailing despotism in China. Such despots and despotism are the basis for Bo’s return. Qiao’s book will provide weapons for fighting against the dominance of despotism and establishing and maintaining rule of law.
SCMP Cary Huang’s report today provides us with the recent development after the publication of the book.
Huang says that the book “inspires academics to declare there is no rule of law while party officials run police and courts”.
“The revelation that the leadership of the Communist Party decided to restore the power of its Politics and Legal Affairs Commission 22 years ago, in the wake of the June 4 crackdown, has triggered debate among lawyers, academics and others about the party’s role in judicial affairs.
“They have generally welcomed a suggestion by Qiao Shi…that the commission’s power to intervene in court cases be reduced and limited.”
According to Cary Huang, “The commission, a powerful body under the party’s Central Committee, oversees all the mainland’s law-enforcement authorities, including the police, internal security personnel, prosecutors and courts.
Many believe that there is no rule of law on the mainland because the judiciary is dictated by the commission and its local offshoots.”
According to SCMP, “Lu Guoping, a famous columnist and author, said Qiao’s book reminded the public of the deterioration in democracy and rule of law over the past decade.
“‘Qiao’s high-profile comment has prompted a sensitive debate among academics over whether China’s democracy and rule of law has progressed, stalled or regressed in the past decade or more,’ Lu wrote on his blog.”
SCMP quotes Peking University law professor He Weifang’s words, “when the party talks about judicial reforms, it has all but stopped talking about judicial independence, which is the key to the introduction of rule of law”.
Chen Guangzhong, a well-known academic, says, “In many regional governments the police chief was also head of the party commission, which meant the police could dictate the whole prosecution and trial process.”
SCMP says, “In his book, Qiao suggests that the commissions be limited to co-ordinating the work of judicial organs.
“The mainlands’ courts are plagued by a lack of judicial independence. Judges and court officials are appointed by local Communist Party organs and all legal institutions are directly supervised by the party’s legal-affairs commissions.
“In highly sensitive cases, like those dealing with dissidents, the judge is often just a medium, handing down a ruling already determined by the party. But even in less sensitive cases, the interests of local officials are often placed above the law.
“However, the party leadership has rejected calls to keep politics and the law independent of each other.”
SCMP’s Cary Huang reports from Beijing today, “The Communist Party leadership decided to strengthen its security apparatus shortly after the June 4 military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in 1989”, according to former top legislator Qiao Shi’s new book.
“The leadership decided to resume the Central Commission of Politics and Legal Affairs in early 1990, which had been downgraded to the ‘central leading group on politics and legal affairs’ two years earlier, in an effort to accommodate the social changes wrought by the demonstrations, according to Qiao Shi , the No 3 official at the time.”
“Rule of law and democracy advocator Qiao Shi returns” dated June 22
“Victory of Rule of Law over Despotism” dated March 31
Bo Xilai said “I will return”, but no one seemed to believe him
Bo Xilai said, “I will return.” According to Japanese reporter Mr. Udagawa, that was what Bo said to the reporter in an exclusive interview with him in early May when Bo was under house arrest
Mr. Udagawa is a Japanese reporter who is the first to successfully contact Bo since Bo was placed under house arrest. According to him, he exploited the State Security Department’s request for his assistance in the investigation to gain the opportunity to have lunch with Bo and heard Bo’s side of the story (see my post “‘I will return,’ says Bo Xilai to his Japanese friend”).
People would have hit Bo’s head and asked him, “Are you crazy?” though they previously had regarded Bo as a rising star. At that time, international media were busy digging deep for stories of Bo’s corruption and other irregularities such womanizing. They certainly would not believe that Bo might be allowed to meet a Japanese friend and speak in self-defense before him when Bo had been deprived of freedom. They all ignored the report.
However, since Bo had the ambition to rise to the top and perhaps establish his own dynasty, he certainly knew he would have lots of ambitious competitors who would try hard to find any trace of irregularity to stop his rise. Why should he leave his enemy an excuse to stop him? Did he not know that if he rose to the top and obtain the monopoly of power like Mao, the whole country would be his assets? There was rumor that he had accumulated assets worth one billion yuan (US630 million), but the country’s tax income alone exceeded US$1 trillion a year. Did he not know what was at stake? Bo appeared extremely clever and able to control himself.
On June 18, at the opening of Chongqing Party Congress, Chongqing Party Secretary Zhang Dejiang, a Politburo member, called Bo “comrade” in his speech, a clear sign that so far no serious irregularity had been found through months of investigation to deprive Bo of Party membership so that Bo remained a comrade to Zhang.
We do not know whether Bo will really be able to return to power, but anything is possible for a high official fallen into disgrace if he has lots of followers. That was the reason for the cruelty of the power struggles in the past. Mao knew his enemies might come back to power so that he had to kill them and destroy their power base. He killed Liu Shaoqi, Peng Dehuai and Lin Biao. Still, he could not prevent Deng Xiaoping from coming back to power.
The power struggle after the Cultural Revolution was not so cruel. The Gang of Four got only imprisonment instead of death penalty. Hua Guofeng remained a Central Committee member after being deprived of power. Zhao Ziyang, though under house arrest, lived a comfortable life.
Qiao Shi’s surprising return after laying low for 15 years
In my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievement”, I say Qiao Shi even said in an interview published on the front page of the Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily that according to China’s Constitution, all power in the country belonged to the people, and the people were to exercise state power through the NPC (China’s parliament) and local people’s congresses at various levels. Jiang Zemin thought Qiao was challenging his power as the core. Jiang then secretly asked a powerful elder Bo Yibo to force Qiao Shi to retire. Bo Yibo, Bo Xilai’s fathere, was the most powerful elder then.
In my book, I say, “I do not think that Qiao Shi had the ambition to replace Jiang and become the core. Perhaps, Qiao simply had the democratic idea of collective leadership and wanted the NPC to constrain Jiang Zemin and avoid the repetition of an autocracy like Mao’s.”
Qiao, though retired, has kept on striving for rule of law and democracy. People praise the improvement in the system of retirement of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and regarded it as institutionalization. There is in fact no written law about that. Even if there is such a law, China is well-known for its poor implementation of law. Why then can such a system be implemented so well?
Retired leaders with Qiao Shi as their most powerful leader have been supervising that. It seems that Qiao accepted retirement on the condition that it would become an established practice that leaders shall retire when reaching certain age limits. Where has Qiao obtained such great power to lead other retired officials to enforce the retirement rules. For many years before his retirement, Qiao Shi had been in charge of China’s national security department, an organization that plays the role of both CIA and FBI in China. He was in charge of spying on all the domestic officials. In China, an official in charge of this kind of job usually does not retire. No one knows whether Qiao retired from that position when he retired from all other government and CCP positions.
We all know that the national security department including the secret police is a very powerful secret network. Its head performs his leadership mostly in secret. A top official may be spied by him in secret and brought down when he has submitted to the CCP Politburo Standing Committee the evidence collected by him. In Russia, the communist party has lost power but the KGB remains powerful and has one of its member as Russian president.
In my post “Victory of Rule of Law over Despotism” on March 31, I said Bo Xilai was brought down by those who advocate rule of law and democracy within the CCP. Well-known journalist Nathan Gardels sent me his post “Rule of Law Worries Behind Bo Xilai Purge” as his comment on my post.
Mr. Gardels says, according to New York Times and the South China Morning Post, a key meeting was held on March 7 in which Party elders made the decisive push to dismiss Bo.
He says, “Key among those elders was Qiao Shi — a former security chief and former head of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and member of the Politburo Standing Committee who is known as a champion of the ‘rule of law.’
“This March 7 meeting, and its results, reveal the sway that the Party elders, though retired, still hold over the political process. Qiao and his allies may not be in power but they continually strive to ‘guide’ the long march of China’s political system away from any path that might lead to a repeat of the catastrophic Cultural Revolution.”
In addition, Mr. Gardels recalled that in his rare interview with Qiao when Qiao was NPC chairman, Qiao told him:
“An important reason why the Cultural Revolution took place and lasted 10 years was that we had not paid enough attention to improving democracy and the legal system.
“It was from this bitter experience that, by the end of the 1970s, we began to stress the need to improve the legal system and laws, to maintain the stability and continuity of this system of law and make it very authoritative.
“According to the constitution of China, all power in the country belongs to the people, and the people exercise state power through the National People’s Congress and local people’s congresses at various levels.”
As Qiao didn’t mention the Party at all, Mr. Gardels asked: “In this vision of a ‘democratic system of law’ in accord with Chinese socialism, will the law ultimately be above the Party, or the Party above the law?” To the audible gasps of his handlers seated behind us, Qiao replied: “No organization or individual has the prerogative to override the constitution or the law
Now, Xinhua, the CCP’s another mouthpiece, reports that Qiao Shi, 87, published on June 20 a book on democracy and rule of law to promote the political structural reform that seems to begin after Bo’s downfall. That will be a precious legacy he leaves to the Chinese people.
The book contains 440,000 characters in 102 speeches, reports and articles by Qiao between 1985 and 1998. Most of them had not been published before. Editors in the People’s Daily spent two years in preparing the book entitled “Qian Shi on Democracy and Legal System”. The book is published by the People’s Publishing House and a press conference was held at the Great Hall of the People to promote the book.