China’s Communist Youth League (CYL) Faction in Trouble

SCMP says in its report “Communist Youth League to overhaul key structures ahead of Communist Party congress” today that the CYL faction is in trouble.

In fact, I pointed out CYL faction’s problems long ago in the expanded second edition of my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements” that has been released by Amazon since early February 2014. I said in page 227 of my book:

If one has had contacts with officials of CYL faction, one knows that there is something unique in CYL faction. Members of the faction become CYL mainstay when they are young. They not only do CYL work together but also play together. As they are at the young age best for making friends, they are especially close to one another and thus especially likely to protect one another.

Therefore, though many people with CYL background have been promoted personally by Hu Jintao to be in charge of various areas, they are not only unable to overcome corruption, but have also failed to pay attention to environmental protection or prevention of excessive investment. On the contrary, they have blindly pursued high economic growth for promotion. As a result, Hu Jintao left after his decade of reign the ten serious problems mentioned in Deng Yuwen’s article on Study Times (see Chapter 15).

I said in my book that Jiang Zemin was behind Deng Yuwen so that Deng dared to publish the article of criticism among a sea of praise of Hu Jintao’s decade of reign at the end of the reign.

In fact before Deng’s criticism, Zhu Rongji, who remained very close to Jiang, had already expressed Jiang’s dissatisfaction with Hu and Hu’s YCL faction. I pointed Hu’s problem in my book as follows:

In fact, that mentality of emperor setting up and make his faction as the only powerful faction in his court is a common trap for an emperor in Chinese history.

… As an unavoidable consequence, he was surrounded by a group of treacherous fawning followers of the rich and powerful who tried every means to please him. Those evil officials formed his emperor faction. As the emperor trusted his protégés, he did not believe that his protégés would do the various evils that they had been accused of. On the contrary, he told people of his emperor faction to make investigation, which certainly resulted in the informers being persecuted. As a result, no one dared to say anything about the evils and there was rampant corruption everywhere. Finally, the emperor himself might be in trouble.

Due to the above mentioned tendency of officials of CYL background protecting one another, corruption became rampant in China during Hu Jintao’s reign. I said in my book:

A wise sovereign certainly has to keep talents concentrated around him, but he does not want them to form the only powerful faction in his country. He would rather have various different factions to compete and restrain one another so that he will be able to find honest talents among them in the course of their mutual competition and exposition and punish the corrupt officials exposed.

SCMP says, “It is believed the overhaul of a key organisation before a crucial party congress will pave the way for Xi to further consolidate his power.”

I don’t believe that. Judging by what Xi Jinping has done since he took over, his control is firm enough. There is no need to further consolidate his power. There have been different views on the way to manage the economy so that he has to try hard to convince others to accept his view. That is good. He shall allow people to express their opposition as he must be aware that no one is always correct. Otherwise, he may commit similar mistake to Mao’s in managing Chinese economy.

That is not power struggle but true democracy. If in a democracy, the party in power does not allow others to oppose it, then it is not democracy though the party comes to power through election.

I think and hope that Xi would not fall into such a trap. However, we do not know until the 19th Party Congress. If he removes all or most of the politburo members of CYL background and promotes only those close to him instead those who have talents. He must have fallen into the trap.

So far there has been no such indication. True, Xi is going to restructure CYL leadership, but that does not mean that he will not choose honest talents of CYL background. Perhaps, through the restructuring, honest talents may emerge in CYL as they did in the past.

Ling Jihua’s corruption has indeed reflected serious problems among officials of CYL background. Resolving the problem does not necessary mean exploitation of the problem for power struggle to weaken the CYL faction.

Anyway, as described in my book, the cream of China’s art for being an emperor is the balancing art. Xi has to skillfully maintain balance between various factions including his own faction instead of falling into the trap of establishing the dominance of his own faction.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at