Elimination of widespread rampant corruption needs an exceptionally wise, brave and powerful leader. The leader shall be very clearly aware of the great danger in the job. Officials exploit their power to commit corruption so that the greater the power, the more serious the corruption. Therefore, the “tigers” Xi has to catch in his fight against corruption are real tigers with sharp teeth. They are able to assassinate high officials in charge of the fight or even the leader. They may even launch a coup d’état.
However, they know the risk of the assassination and coup especially when the leader controls China’s secret police; therefore, the best way for them is to spread the rumor that the real purpose of the fight against corruption is to remove or weaken the factions not controlled by the leader so as to establish the leader’s absolute power.
It is common that there are various factions in a communist party, but especially in Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after Mao’s Cultural Revolution because those who were in a faction with substantial strength suffered less persecution and regained their positions sooner during and after the Cultural Revolution.
Usually, a high-ranking official appoints and promotes quite some officials. Those officials together with the officials they appointed and promoted form a faction due to comradeship, friendship and common interests and aspiration. When the high-ranking official has retired, he still controls the faction formed due to his influence and 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 themselves but also the large number of their faction members.
The removal of a high official in a faction due to corruption may greatly weaken the faction; therefore, it will certainly vigorously resist and demand a lenient punishment or even immunity. Other factions will mostly side with the guilty official’s faction for fear that it was the leader or the anti-corruption official’s power struggle trick to weaken the factions they do not control one by one. The resistance of the alliance of those factions may become quite strong especially when it is joined by the quite strong conservative faction built up by Bo Xilai through his anti-organized crime and sing-red campaigns. That was also the cause for the difficulties in making the decision to punish Bo Xilai harshly. The decision had not been made until Jiang Zemin came to Beijing to preside over an expanded Politburo meeting on September 27, 2012.
Power struggle is corrupt officials’ best excuse in opposing Xi’s fight against corruption!
In order to succeed in his fight against corruption and for further reform, Xi visited all the powerful elders who were heads of various factions and convinced them that what he did was to save CCP instead of enabling his own faction to have dominant power over all other factions. He even showed them that he had no faction of his own and told them he would have an official with little factional background to be in charge of the fight against corruption.
His choice of Wang Qishan convinced them. Wang’s father-in-law Yao Yilin was for a time a Politburo Standing Committee member, but Yao was in charge of economy. Wang himself, though promoted by Zhu Rongji of Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai faction, was employed as high economic officials. Economic officials usually have little political power in CCP.
Wang seems powerful in having investigated and punished powerful officials including a retired Politburo Standing Committee member and two retired top generals, but his power comes from Xi Jinping and CCP organization. He has no troops or police under his personal control to achieve his personal goal.
Some people may wonder: How can a leader rule a party full of factions without forming his own powerful faction?
In Chinese history, forming his own faction and making it the only powerful faction was a common trap for a sovereign. It may easily cause the sovereign to be surrounded by a faction of treacherous fawning protégés who, like Heshen, corrupted Emperor Qianlong’s entire official system and blocked the channels for informers to expose their evils.
A wise sovereign shall have charisma to attract all talents around him no matter what factions they belong to. He is even able to win over talents from his enemy and make them his faithful followers. A great leader’s greatness lies first of all in his ability to discover and properly employ and delegate power to talented followers. Xi has proved his wisdom in dealing with domestic and external issues, but we still have to wait and see whether he is able to fill his Politburo Standing Committee with talents and find a competent successor.
Whether with the excuse of opposing power struggle or not, the large number of corrupt official may refuse to function like the officials did under Emperor Jiaqing’s reign or even begin national protests like Hong Kong police did against Governor MacLehose’ anti-corruption campaign.
What shall Xi Jinping do?
He gave people a huge surprise, which is a long story to be elaborated in my next article.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
I describes China’s faction politics in my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements” as follows:
China’s Faction Politics
There are always various factions in CCP, but the establishment and development of factions have become vital for Chinese politicians since Mao’s Cultural Revolution because those who were in a faction with substantial strength suffered less persecution and regained their positions sooner during and after the Cultural Revolution.
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.
Just as described in the book, before and during the 18th Party Congress, those dormant elders were quite active and made quite a few appearances, but when there is no such grant event as the Party Congress, they all keep a low profile and seldom appear.
Therefore, it is quite unusually that recently quite a few dormant retired elders were busy making appearance.
The most prominent was former general secretary Hu Jintao. He visited Yuelu College and Hu Yaobang’s former residence respectively on April 9 and 11. Then he toured famous scenery spots Zhangjiajie and Fenghuang Ancient City. Finally on April 17, he visited Guizhou Province he was in charge of before rose to the top.
In my post “China’s Powerful Elder Former President Hu Jintao Came Out to Support Xi Jinping” on April 11, I said, “influential politician’s move must have some political intention.”
Hu’s travel obviously aimed to express his support for Xi Jinping’s mass line and anti-corruption campaigns and ambitious reform. Why?
I said, at Yuelu College, “Hu had a small entourage in accordance with Xi Jinping’s regulations and he refused to write an inscription at despite of repeated requests in accordance with Xi’s instruction that leaders shall not write inscription without central authority’s approval. He finally agreed to give his signature”.
“Therefore, the open support for Xi Jinping’s mass line campaign and anti-corruption storm by Hu Jintao, the head of the powerful Youth League faction with 8 Politburo members, gives a clear message to CYL Faction members that it is no use to complain to Hu when they are the targets of Xi’s campaign and storm. They had better behave themselves.”
Jiang Zemin, the core of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Dynasty, in addition to his praise of Xi when he met Kissinger, has made three appearances recently: He visited his niece in Shengzhen at the end of March, toured Shouxihu Lake in his hometown Yangzhou on April 19 and visited his cousin in Shanghai on April 22.
His appearances were also regarded as aiming at showing not only his support for Xi but also his good health at the advanced age of 87. It gave the signal that that those who have been touched by Xi’s campaigns had better behave themselves.
However, it seems their appearances were not simply expressing their support. There must be something great being planned, perhaps an important meeting of top leaders and powerful elders on some important issues.
Not only the two top elders respectively being the leaders of the most powerful Shanghai and CYL factions, other retired elders including Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinling, Li Changchun, He Guoqiang have all made recent appearances.
Some analysts believe that they appeared to show support for Xi or that they have not been affected Xi’s campaign, but I would rather believe that they want to show that they are healthy and strong able to take part in the coming great meeting or occasion.
Source: Chan Kai Yee “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements”
Source: SCMP “Jia Qinglin joins growing parade of retired leaders”
Source: World Journal “Elders showed support for Xi Jinping: Jiang Zemin appeared in Shanghai”
- Top Elder Jiang Zeming Healthy, Vital for Xi’s Success in Reform, Fighting Corruption dated April 24, 2014
- China’s Powerful Elder Former President Hu Jintao Came Out to Support Xi Jinping dated April 11, 2014
- News Confirms Xi Jinping Chosen by Jiang Zemin as Successor to Jiang as the Core dated August 30, 2013
- Jiang Zemin, 86, Shows He Remains the Core by Punishing Bo Xilai dated October 2, 2012
In his public speech on the day Xi Jinping was elected Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary, he listed four problems that might cause the CCP to collapse. Corruption ranks the first.
However, his major campaign after he was elected is the nationwide mass line instead of anti-corruption campaign. People believe that Xi fails to deal with the number one problem due to his lack of authority. There is the following passage in Chapter 16 of the second version of my book Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements that will soon be published:
“Xi’s Difficulty in Fighting Corruption due to Faction Politics
“When Chen Liangyu was found guilty of corruption, Jiang Zemin did not protect Chen, but allowed Chen and his accomplices to be punished. Jiang’s Shanghai faction was the strongest faction then and was not afraid that Chen’s downfall would weaken the faction.
“For a smaller faction, the removal of a high official in it may greatly weaken it. It will certainly protect the official and demand a lenient punishment or even immunity. Other smaller factions will mostly side with the faction of the guilty official for fear that it was a larger faction’s trick to weaken smaller factions one by one. The resistance of the alliance of smaller factions may become quite strong especially when it is joined by the quite strong conservative faction built up by Bo Xilai through his anti-organized crime and sing-red campaigns.”
There is detailed description of the faction politics, the major factions in the CCP and their comparative strength, and Xi’s success in winning the support of all the powerful elders of various factions before the 18th CCP in my book, which is too long to quote here.
In my post on August 31 titled “China: Severe Anti-corruption Storm on the Horizon”, I predicted that the severe court verdict of Bo Xilai’s corruption case foreboded a severe anti-corruption storm.
However, Bo’s downfall was first of all the outcome of a fierce power struggle between powerful factions. In the second edition of my book I give detailed description of the factions involved and the trick applied to bring down Bo. That is much too long to be quoted here.
If it has not been made clear that punishing Bo was really the outcome of the struggle against corruption instead of that of power struggle, Xi will not achieve his goal of striking awe among corrupt officials.
For this purpose, Xi has chosen as his target Zhou Yongkang, an elder of the most powerful Shanghai faction. As pointed out in my book, Jiang Zemin has chosen Xi Jinping as his successor so that Xi will be the head of Shanghai faction in the future; therefore, punishing Zhou will be an action of punishing a senior member of Xi’s faction. Punishing Zhou for corruption will remove other factions’ resistance to the investigation of their senior members.
SCMP says in its report today titled “Xi sets up special unit to probe Zhou Yongkang corruption case”, “President Xi Jinping has set up a special unit headed by a senior policeman and deputy minister of public security to investigate the scandal surrounding retired leader Zhou Yongkang, bypassing the Communist Party’s internal disciplinary apparatus, sources say.
“Beijing police chief Fu Zhenghua will report directly to Xi, according to police and graft watchdog sources.”
According to SCMP, “It is believed that Xi and CCDI (Central Commission for Discipline Inspection) head Wang Qishan wanted police who are more experienced with criminal investigations to handle the investigation rather than the CCDI, whose abilities and methods have been questioned recently.”
In fact, due to the huge number of corruption cases, CCP’s internal discipline apparatus lacks the expertise and manpower to fight corruption.
Police involvement in the struggle against corruption adds lots of vigor to the campaign.
Source: Chan Kai Yee “second edition of his book Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements”, SCMP “Xi sets up special unit to probe Zhou Yongkang corruption case”
Related posts at https://tiananmenstremendousachievements.wordpress.com
- China: Severe Anti-corruption Storm on the Horizon dated August 31
- China’s corruption drive extends to provinces dated September 29
- Chinese inspectors uncover widespread corruption in ‘shock and awe’ probe dated September 30
- One More Casualty in Anti-corruption Storm: Nanjing Mayor Ji Jianye Fell in Disgrace dated October 17
SCMP brief: “The name of former president Jiang Zemin again appeared in the media yesterday – the sixth mention he’s had in as many weeks.
“An article on the website of the People’s Daily said Jiang wrote calligraphy to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Shanghai Ocean University, where he had earlier visited.
“On Wednesday the daily ran an article praising his musical talent while about two weeks ago, Jiang, 86, wrote a calligraphy couplet to mark the anniversary of his alma mater, Yangzhou Middle School.
“The frequent references to him ahead of the 18th party congress are meant to send a political message that he is still wielding political influence, analysts say.”
Singtao Daily reports: China’s official mouthpiece the People’s Daily publishes a signed article by former Politburo Standing Committee member Li Lanqing on Jiang Zemin’s fondness of an old song 60 years ago, a topic that seems entirely not related to politics.
However, in the article, Li praises highly Jiang’s good memory in being able to remember the words and tune of a song that was popular 60 years ago but has seldom been sang or heard since Mao tightened ideological control in 1956.
Such good memory certainly has lots to do with Chinese politics. It shows that Jiang is not only in power but has good memory about what important official have done; therefore, they shall be careful not to displease him.
In a report on the same topic, SCMP says: “The story, which comes just over a week before the once-in-a-decade power change at the Communist Party’s 18th national congress, was seen as another indication of Jiang’s effort to assert his influence. It is at least the fifth high-profile media foray by Jiang since late September.
“Meanwhile, the Jilin Daily, the mouthpiece of the Jilin provincial party committee, reported yesterday that former premier Li Peng, 84, had written a letter welcoming the start of construction work on a hydroelectric power station in Jilin city on Monday.”
SCMP quotes political analyst Dr James Sung Lap-kung of Hong Kong’s City to indicate that the busy appearance of many more former political heavyweights, including Jiang, Li and former premier Zhu Rongji before the 18th party congress but not before the 16th and 17th congresses indicates their efforts to influence the power transition at the 18th party congress.
We believe that various factions come out in the open is a good sign that the power struggle among them will come out in the open, making Chinese politics more transparent. This may be the beginning of intraparty democracy.
For details of the SCMP report, please visit its website at:
The Mystery of Former Premier Breaking Silence dated January 29
3 Factions Come Out in Limelight before Reshuffle dated August 3
Jiang Zemin, 86, Shows He Remains the Core by Punishing Bo dated October 2
SCMP reports: “Former top party official Li Ruihuan made a rare public appearance in Beijing at the weekend, joining a long list of retired political heavyweights who appear keen to reassert their influence ahead of next month’s once-a-decade transfer of power.
“The party’s 18th national congress is scheduled to open on November 8. The reappearance of Li – who ranked fourth in the party hierarchy for a decade until his retirement in 2003 – at the China Open tennis-singles finals on Sunday raised eyebrows.
“He was accompanied by former vice-premier Wu Yi, but what made Li’s appearance different from the recent resurfacing of other party elders, including former president Jiang Zemin, was that he was accompanied by incumbent officials. They included Beijing party chief Guo Jinlong, a close ally of President Hu Jintao, and the capital’s mayor, Wang Anshun.
“Analysts said Li, 78, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference between 1993 and 2003, had also received unusual treatment from the semi-official China News Service, which ran a photo of Li, Guo and Wang together at the finals.”
For details of the report, please visit SCMP website at:
In his recent press conference, Premier Wen Jiabao said that he will fight on for democracy as long as he lives.
People cannot help ask how. There has now been established practice of retired leaders refraining from commenting government work after their retirement. For example, when former Premier Zhu Rongji commented government work during his visit to QinghuaUniversitylast April, he told his audience to keep secret what he said. Since former premiers cannot comment the work of their successors, how can Wen Jiabao fight for democracy, one year later when he has retired?
Chinese politics are entirely different from Western ones. All the most important decisions are made behind the scene where retired elders remain influential.
In Mao era, Mao was the only decision maker. He entirely disregarded the provisions of Party constitution on holding Party meetings. He never held Party congresses or plenary sessions of the Central Committee according to the provisions of the Constitution and was even so absurd as to claim that the 12th Plenary Session of the 8th CCP Central Committee convened by him had quorum when only 40 of the 97 Committee members and 17 of the 73 alternate members were absent.
When Deng was the core of the leadership, according to Zhao Ziyang’s memoir, all the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) members were “daughters-in-law” while Deng was the only “mother-in-law” giving instructions to them. Meetings were held according to Party constitution, but important decisions were first made by Deng after consulting other elders and then to be adopted by the PSC.
When Hu Jintao had succeeded Jiang Zemin, Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai faction continued to have a majority in the PSC. Five years after Hu took over in 2007, Hu was only able to promote one of his protégés into the PSC and a few of them into the 25-member Politburo. Hu’s failure to choose Li Keqiang as his successor clearly indicated that the Party was dominated by the elders who had strong factions under them.
Premier Wen thought he could fight on for democracy after retirement because he knew that he would remain influential after retirement. However, his words provided a further evidence for the existence of faction politics within the Party.
I often wonder that China’s well-known premier Zhuge Liang was appointed top post as soon as his talents were discovered when he was only 27, but now an official cannot rise to the top position until he is 60. Is China too old a country to employ young talents?