The Mystery of Top-Level Succession in China

Western people regard Hu Jintao’s smooth succession to Jiang Zemin as the beginning of a new era of smooth succession in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Being accustomed to democracy, they had no idea that there is still a dynasty, the CCP Dynasty, in China.

According to Deng Xiaoping, there shall be a core of the collective leadership in China. He said that Mao was the core of the first generation of leadership while he himself was that of the second generation. Mao had the absolute power to cruelly punish all those who dare to express any view different from his. Deng was able to silence alone powerful conservative elders’ opposition to the reform by his Southern Tour when he was fully retired. Obviously, the core of the CCP has the absolute power of an emperor even when he has no official post.

When Deng selected Jiang Zemin to succeed him, he made Jiang CCP general secretary and chairman of the military commission and PRC president, but said that he would not rest at ease until Jiang became the core of the third generation of leadership. At that time, Zhao Ziyang who knew well how CCP’s power center operated, gave the following comment (p 34 of Zong Fengming’s “Zhao Ziyang: Captive conversations”):

“There is nothing certain in what has been said now about the core of the third generation of leadership. It is a transition period. As long as there are the elders, there will still be the rule of the elders. For example, though I was the general secretary, I was but the secretary general then.”

CCP power center is a black box. Zhao Ziyang was the first to reveal its operation in his memoir. There are now Memoirs of Wu Faxian, Li Zuopeng and Qiu Huizuo and Huang Yongsheng’s son’s book on his father that provide further revelations as the four were all politburo members from 1969 to 1971. They revealed that Mao and Deng acted as absolute monarch when they became the cores of the CCP leadership.

The third core is Jiang Zemin, who was at first regarded as a transitional leader but amazed every one when his protégés got a majority in the politburo standing committee (PSC) when he retired. Jiang had cleverly applied the art of being an emperor to exploit the fear given rise by Tiananmen Protests and America’s victory in Gulf War to establish his position as the core and conducted a coup to substitute intellectuals’ dominance for conservatives’ dominance in the Party and state. That is a long story that cannot be covered in this short article.

At the 17th Party congress, Hu Jintao was able to have five of his Communist Youth League (CYL) protégés elected into the politburo and one into the PSC, but failed to designate his man as his successor. Xi Jinping who worked for six months in shanghai where Jiang lived was selected unexpectedly as he had really not been exceptionally brilliant than other contenders. It proved that Jiang remained the core while Hu had not been able to replace Jiang as the core.

There was speculation that Xi could not be a successful successor as he was not appointed vice chairman of the CCP Central Military Commission for almost three years after the congress. However, his appointment to the post in late 2010 proved the speculation was unfounded. Jiang remained in control and Hu was unable to substitute Li Keqiang for Xi Jinping. The picture of succession at the 18th Party congress seems clear by 2010. However, there is rumor now that Wang Qishan instead of Li Keqiang will be selected as the next premier.

The striking hint was given by former premier Zhu Rongji. Zhu had pledged not to comment government work after he had retired. He had kept his silence until January 18, this year when he gave a 9-minute impromptu speech at the beginning of a Peking Opera show for Shanghai officials mostly at bureau-chief level. What provided much food for thought in his speech was that he recalled his work in Shanghai under the leadership of 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.”

During his visit to Tsinghua University for its centennial celebration in late April, 2011, he said something to criticize the government but told his audience not to disclose what he said to outsiders. Immediately afterwards, the CCP Central Disciplinary Commission issued a notice that forbade such speeches.

Why did Zhu speak out in spite of the ban? Why did Shanghai boss Yu Zhengsheng give Zhu forum to air his views? Did Zhu hint that with a good president and a competent assistant to the president like Zhu to watch all the officials below and give play to their talents, there will be clean government able to achieve successes however great, but when Xi Jinping takes over, there will not be clean government and great achievements because Li Keqiang is not as competent as Zhu to do the job.

We do not know what is really happening in the power center, but we can be sure all the factions in the Party are now exerting to their utmost for the official posts after the reshuffle.

Xi will succeed Hu smoothly, but it will take years for him to establish his power base. The key is not the issue of Xi’s succession but the issue of who will succeed Jiang as the core. Hu refused the wording of the CCP central authority with Hu Jintao as the core but preferred that of the CCP central authority with Hu Jintao as the general secretary. Obviously, he is clear that he has not yet obtained the status as the core. Now, Jiang is old and has retired for 10 years, can he remain the core or is it time that Hu or any one else replaces him as the core?

We will find the answer when we see who will have the majority in the new PSC line-up after the 18th congress.

Xi is certainly not qualified to be the core now. It will not be Xi Jinping’s call to decide China’s future route when he has just taken over the post as the general secretary no matter who will be the core after the 18th Party congress.


When a friend gave me a cigarette to smoke for the first time, I found smoking so relaxing and the smell so good that I immediately became a smoker.

I knew well that smoking was unhealthy and quite a few of my friends and relatives tried to persuade me to quit, but I refused, giving the lame arguments that perhaps further scientific research might find some good ingredients in tobacco, that Churchill smoked heavily but lived a long life, that I smoked only half a packet a day, etc.

Perhaps, I was spoiled by my wife. Before marrying me, she praised me before her parents that I had no bad habit such as smoking, drinking, etc. But she never opposed my new bad habit. Instead, she sometimes bought my favorite brand for me though we were often hard up at that time.

I smoked for seven years and then quit suddenly on my own accord. It was quite common at the end of the Cultural Revolution. Quite a few people began smoking during the Cultural Revolution to reduce the bitterness they felt under persecution and quit smoking when persecutions ceased, but that was not the case with me.

I quit smoking to liberate myself.

The chaos caused by the Cultural Revolution undermined tobacco production resulting in a shortage of raw materials for cigarette production. I do not know what leaves cigarette factories used to mix with tobacco and caused cigarettes to lose its relaxing effect and good flavor. I began to pity myself: Why did I keep on smoking when I no longer enjoyed it? Because I felt very uncomfortable when I wanted to smoke but did not have a cigarette. I realized that it was what people called addiction.

In the past I was the master of cigarette. I could smoke when I wanted to enjoy smoking. However, by that time I had become cigarette’s slave. I could not do without cigarette. The communist government could control me by cigarette and force me to pay for the rubbish it passed off as cigarettes. I should not lose one more freedom when I had already been deprived too much freedom. I should liberate myself from the slavery of cigarette addiction.

With such a mentality, I have no difficulty at all in quitting smoking.

When I moved to Hong Kong, I saw the brand of cigarette I loved the best and had to beg my relatives to bring from Hong Kong for me when I was in Shanghai. I thought that now I was free to enjoy it at will. I bought a packet, but there was no longer the relaxing effect perhaps because I was no longer under heavy political pressure and did not have to do the toilsome job assigned to me by communists.

They say that cigarette addiction may come back easily. Fortunately, it does not come back to me. Before quitting smoking, I liked the smell of smoking when I smoked, but now I hate it. I don’t know why. I even find the smell offensive when another person is smoking by my side. However, when I was a smoker, I often smoked along with a few friends in my small room with windows and door closed in winter. It did not strike me that the air quality in the room was very poor until my wife came and told me to open the door and windows widely.

Perhaps, I am lucky in being able to quit smoking so easily.


When I am puzzled why China is catching up with America so quickly, I recalled my cousin’s words that Chinese were smarter in doing business than Jews.

My cousin told my father that when he graduated from secondary school, he could not find a job as wars between warlords, natural disasters and foreign aggression made China very poor. He had to go to Indonesia to earn a living, bringing with him nothing but an umbrella. But when he came back after World War II, he was so rich that he set up a big trading company in Shanghai. His company was later taken over by the communists and he had to move to Hong Kong to run the Hong Kong branch of his company, which was later listed in Hong Kong.

According to him, Jews in Shanghai were very successful but when they came to Shanghai they brought with them substantial capital to start their business. Chinese people, however, moved to Southeast Asia because they could not survive at home. They all had to start from nothing. Like Jews, they succeeded in business without any support from their country. At that time, Jews did not have their own country while China could barely avoid being conquered, let alone take care of its people abroad. However, the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia formed close communities and helped one another in dealing with local despots and corrupt officials. With their business acumen, they finally dominated local economy in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, etc. Therefore, my cousin believed that Chinese people were smarter than Jews in doing business. He even said that if China had had a good government that had been able to provide decent environment for Chinese businessmen, they would have been able to make China prosperous soon.

I did not believe him, thinking that the overseas Chinese were able to become rich in Southeast Asia because they were cleverer than the local people there. Chinese people cannot compete with Americans who are better experienced and educated.

Unexpectedly, as soon as private economy was allowed in China, in spite of lots of restrictions, there was a boom of private enterprises. My relatives in Zhejiang who traditionally were peasants, soon became entrepreneurs though they had no experience at all and were only better educated than other people. They have all become rich. The plant of one of them soon grew into a corporation with over US$10 million net assets. My cousin’s view seemed a little convincing to me then.

However, I was still not fully convinced as I worried especially when I read Gordon Chang’s prediction that China’s economy would collapse if there was an economic recession in Western developed countries.

When Chinese economy was hit hard by the financial tsunami in the West, most of China’s private enterprises were still engaged in textile, catering, real estate, automobile parts and other traditional industries with low added value that relied heavily on export. Quite a few of them were in great difficulties due to the sharp reduction of demand in world market and for a time laid off tens of millions of migrant workers, which might give rise to serious social problems. Chinese leaders were so clever that they immediately reduced the restrictions imposed on private capital and encouraged it to enter various other industries where there were previously open and hidden barriers for private capital to enter.

Chinese entrepreneurs displayed their great talents in making surprisingly great achievements in those industries and soon employed back all those who had been laid off. Seeing that, the Chinese State Council issued on May 7, 2010 “Several Opinions of the State Council on Encouraging and Guiding the Healthy Development of Nongovernmental Investment” (the “Opinions”). Note: the term “nongovernmental investment” means private investment as Chinese government prefers using that term instead of “private investment” to make it sound less capitalist.

In order to ensure the implementation of the Opinions, the General Office of the State Council issued on July 22, 2010 “Notice of the General Office of the State Council on Division of Labor for Major Tasks of Encouraging and Guiding the Healthy Development of Nongovernmental Investment” to assign the responsibilities for helping private investment in various industries to various central departments and local governments.

The Notice urges central departments and local governments to help private capital to invest in basic industries, public utilities, policy-related housing construction, financial service industry, etc. In addition, private capital is encouraged to participate in transformation of state-owned enterprises, conduct independent innovation, transformation and upgrading and take part in international competition.

Moreover, the Notice assigns the responsibilities to pay great attention to encouraging private investment in hi-tech sectors such as IT technology, recycle economy and eco-friendly economy and “in the development of the emerging industries with development potentials, such as the industries of energy conservation, emission reduction, water conservation, reduction of water consumption, biological medicine, information network, new energy, new materials, environmental protection and integrative utilization of resources.”

Chinese private enterprises have achieved great successes in those industries since then. Quite a few American enterprises, however, are still in difficulty in spite of the 30% rise of Renminbi exchange rate and the restrictions US government imposed on Chinese enterprises and their exports. Obviously, there is truth in my cousin’s view.

Now, of the 1 million Chinese seeking opportunities in Africa, 700,000 are from Chinese private sector. They are provided with capital when they went there and backed by their country that has become the second largest economy in the world. The incidents of killing and kidnapping there in the past few years indicate that there are great risks, but not so great as those encountered by the overseas Chinese when they were blazing their trails in Southeast Asia.

I believe that with such talented entrepreneurs, China will establish its economic leadership in Africa. It will utilize the cheep labor and rich natural resources there while providing investment, technology, management skill and its huge growing market for Africa. When African people grow rich, Africa will in turn provide China with a vast growing market.

China has already signed a free trade treaty with ASEAN, which Japan, South Korea and even India are interested in joining. Overseas Chinese have already had great economic strength in ASEAN countries. If China obtains economic leadership in both Africa and Asia, American capitalism will be defeated by Chinese capitalism in spite of American military superiority and efforts to contain China.

America must realize that its efforts since the Reagan Administration to contain China have entirely been ineffective. What is urgent for it to do is to reinvigorate its economy and enhance its economic cooperation with African and Asian countries including China as China’s huge growing market is too important for America. Otherwise, the 21st century will certainly be the Chinese century.





























I was surprised that America was shocked by China’s veto to the proposed UN Security Council decision on Syria. Obviously, American leaders lack the vision to foresee that President Obama’s new strategy of regarding China and Iran as America’s two priorities has reduced almost to zero China’s willingness to cooperate with America.

For America Iran’s nuclear issue is an urgent one requiring immediate actions while China’s rise is a long-term issue. President Obama’s new strategy has caused America’s long-term potential enemy to unite with its imminent enemy.

How foolish!

China has great interest in Libya. It had to withdraw over 50,000 people from Libya when Libya was in trouble. In spite of that, it refrained from vetoing UN Security Council decision on Libya because it wanted to maintain good relations with the United States.

China does not have much interest in Syria, but Russia has. Russia is now much weaker than its predecessor the Soviet Union and is not able to confront America alone. President Obama’s new strategy has driven China to Russian side and made China Russia’s ally in dealing with America.

According to Hong Kong media, Russian and China have recently resumed their talks on Su 35 airplanes. Previously the talks are about China’s purchase of the planes but now China wants Russia to transfer intellectual property so as to produce Su 35 jointly with Russia. Su 35 is able to counter America’s F 35, but America still has quite a few problems in developing its F 35. China has lots of financial resources while Russia and China both have technological resources. If combined, the two will be in the best position to develop advanced weapons.

According to President Obama, America will reduce its military spending. Under such circumstances, is he not stupid in arousing China to begin its arms race with America by his recent strategic switch?

Chinese people now often learn from Chinese media that American is encircling China by stationing troops in Australia and the Philippines, conducting joint military drills with China’s border dispute opponents, etc. Has American media ever mentioned encirclement of America by China? Never, encircling America? Ridiculous!

However, China will be able to encircle America economically if it succeeds in obtaining economic leadership in Africa and establishing an Asian community with ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, India and Central Asian countries. China’s huge growing market will be the greatest attraction. America, on the other hand, does not even have a plan to obtain economic leadership in that region.

Which country will succeed?

The country with wise leader assisted by talented intellectuals with moral integrity will succeed? I have not seen wise leader with talented assistants now in America, but I know the emergence of wise leaders assisted by talented assistants with moral integrity in China now, their coup to seize power in the Party and state and their success in making China prosperous. What I know is revealed in my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements: The Silent Peaceful Coup D’état In China…”


In my previous post “Uncivilized People from Thousands Years of Civilization”, I described the incident of a quarrel between mainland Chinese travelers and a Hong Kong passenger. A girl among the mainlanders ate noodles and littered the carriage when they were riding on Hong Kong subway. The Hongkonger told the girl to stop eating as it violated the subway’s bylaw, but the girl’s mother refused and other mainlanders joined her in quarreling with the Hongkonger.

The incident triggered heated debates between Hong Kong and Mainland people. Like people in other countries, Hongkongers have much to complain against Mainland travelers’ littering, spitting, disobeying traffic and other rules, failure to queue and other uncivilized or rude behaviors. Mainland women rushed to Hong Kong to give birth to their children in order that their children will be benefited from Hong Kong’s better social welfare. This has given rise to serious shortage of obstetrical services in Hong Kong. Moreover, due to the closeness between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, mainlanders have invested heavily in Hong Kong’s property market and spent a lot at Hong Kong’s luxury shops. They have thus driven up rents and property price and forced out small business in Hong Kong.

Mainlanders, however, complained that they were often conned and discriminated by Hong Kong businessmen. Kong Qingdong, a professor in Peking University, was so arrogant that instead of saying sorry for his compatriots’ uncivilized manners and the troubles mainlanders brought to Hong Kong, he repeatedly insulted Hongkongers by calling them “dogs” in an Internet talk show in response to the incident. In order to justify Mainlanders’ disrespect of rules and law, he went so far as to say that “the need of rule of law to maintain order in a place proves the poor quality of the people there,” as if mainlanders’ disrespect of rules and law were a virtue.

On February 1, Hong Kong’s major newspaper carried a full-page “anti-locust” advertisement, in which mainlanders are regarded as locusts who come to Hong Kong to take away Hong Kong’s scarce resources and disrupt social order. The advertisement was financed by some Internet users who raised HK$100,000 in one week for it.

Last October, Chinese Communist Party made a decision to boost the development of culture, but Chinese mainlanders’ uncivilized behaviors and arrogance prove that it is not an easy job to make them civilized. If Chinese people grow even richer and their quality does not improve, they will not be welcome in other parts of the world as they do now in Hong Kong. It will then be very difficult for China to establish its leadership in Africa and Asia.