The Conundrum of Xi Jinping’s Power


Some China watcher believes that Chinese President Xi Jinping is nearly as powerful as Mao. In fact, they do not know how powerful Xi is compared with Mao.

How Mao Gradually Lost Most of His Power
Mao has absolute power before he made the mistake of the Great Leap Forward. In fact, if he was not so powerful, he simply could not launch the stupid campaign for unrealistic fast economic growth as most of the officials in charge of economic development in China advocated a moderate balanced economic growth. Before Mao’s Great Leap Forward, they achieved a growth rate of more than 10% p.a., quite fast in the world.

As those officials were led by powerful veterans Zhou Enlai and Chen Yun, Mao denounced Zhou severely as a conservative and scared Chen Yun. He had thus finally obtained consensus in CCP for his Great Leap Forward. Unfortunately, Mao’s Great Leap Forward was a disastrous blunder.

Due to the blunder, he gradually lost power to his chosen successor Liu Shaoqi and had to start the Cultural Revolution to grab power back from Liu. As most communist veterans supported Liu, Mao used first Red Guards and then Rebels to deprive veterans of their power.

To ensure success in his power struggle against Liu and Liu’s supporters, Mao needed the support of the troops so that he replaced Liu with the then Defense Minister Marshal Lin Biao as his successor and gave Lin the control of Chinese troops. When he found that Lin had grown as powerful as him, he brought down Lin. Then he had doubt about the loyalty of his powerbase Chinese troops in the face of Soviet attack.

Mao was wise to ally with the US to counter the Soviet Union. However, in fighting CCP civilian and military officials, he had used up his political capital and became unable to control the rebels. As a result, he was no able to put an end to the chaos caused by his Cultural Revolution.

Mao said that Cultural Revolution had to be carried out about every 8 years. He started his Cultural revolution in 1966 but by 1976 when he died, he was still unable to finish his Cultural Revolution. Disruption of production continued in most areas of China. As a result, there were nothing to shop except aluminum pots and enamel ware even in Hangzhou, a prosperous city before the Cultural Revolution well-known in the saying “There is paradise above in heaven while there are Suzhou and Hangzhou below”.

By that time, Mao’s power was quite limited. Xi would have been unable to achieve anything if he had had as limited power as Mao. As powerful as Mao? Nonsense.

Deng Xiaoping was powerful to order conservatives to obey him, but he did not have conservatives’ support for his reform and opening-up.

Jiang Zemin had established very strong powerbase to be the core of CCP’s third generation of leadership, but like Deng he could only silence conservatives’ opposition to his reform but had not won over their support.

In his reign for a decade, Hu Jintao had promoted lots of the members of his CYL (Communist Youth League, Hu’s powerbase) to high official posts, but he was challenged by Bo Xilai, head of the powerful conservative faction. Hu lacked the power to punish Bo when Bo’s crime of serious corruption was discovered. It was Jiang Zemin, the core of the third generation of CCP leadership, who was able to make the decision to punish Bo severely.

In spite of the decade of his rule, Hu had not become the core of CCP leadership, but Xi obtained the position as the core of CCP leadership in five years.

How has Xi succeeded in obtaining the power?

First, as soon as Xi took over the reign, he had gained the support of both reformists and conservatives by his China dream.

A couple of weeks after he took office as CCP General Secretary, Xi gained popularity by his surprise closure of all the black jails local officials set up in Beijing to imprison petitioners.. By so doing he dealt a heavy blow on powerful local officials.

He then announced that he would scrap the unpopular reeducation through labor system. Though the system was officially abolished about one and half years later, it had ceased operation soon after his announcement on abolishing it. Due to the system, police had the excessive power to imprison people in reeducation labor camp for as long as four years without any legal procedures. Before Xi’s surprise attacks at local officials and removal of the excessive power of the police, the police used the excessive power to protect corrupt officials and persecute those who dare to expose officials’ crimes of corruption. By abolishing the system and removal of police’s excessive power, Xi had dealt a heavy blow on Chinese police and laid foundation for his fight against corruption.

You may ask why Xi was able to deal heavy blows on the powerful vested interests of local officials and the police when he had just taken over the reign and had not yet set up his powerbase.

In September 2012 before Xi succeeded Hu Jintao, Xi disappeared mysteriously for two weeks. In that period, he visited all the powerful elders to gain their support for his fight against corruption and tightening of party discipline. In spite of their differences, all the elders supported Xi as they had the consensus that the rampant corruption would cause CCP to collapse. They had the experience that in spite of its larger military and US support the KMT lost the civil war to CCP due to its serious corruption.

Due to powerful elders’ support, Xi had real power as soon as he took over to enable him to deal heavy blows on local officials and the police. However, his sound powerbase was built in the five years since he took office through his successful fight against corruption, enforcement of party discipline and reorganization of Chinese military.

As a result, Xi has now become the most powerful leader in CCP history, much more powerful than Mao when Mao launched the Cultural Revolution but perhaps as powerful as the Mao before Mao made the mistake of the Great Leap Forward.

The most important battle Xi has won in obtaining absolute power is his fight against rampant corruption. As corruption has been an evil in China for centuries, it is too long a topic to discuss here.

You may wonder what about China’s collective leadership. It will be discussed in my next post “The Conundrum of China’s Collective Leadership”.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


The Conundrum of Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream


Colonel Liu Mingfu’s Arrogant China Dream of China Replacing the US as World Leader.
In 2010, Colonel Liu Mingfu published his leftist best seller “China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post American Era” advocating China replacing the US as world leader. He first assumed the fall of the United States and believed that China would surpass the US in economy. In fact, in 2010, China has quite a few problems in maintaining its economic growth while the US, though failed to achieve much economic growth, still had an economy much larger and advanced than China. It was indeed too early for Liu to predict the fall of the US and the rise of China to replace the US as world leader. To replace the US as world leader, China has to be stronger not only economically but also militarily than the US; therefore, Liu advocates China’s military instead of peaceful rise in his book.

Lots of Chinese people, especially leftists, are very fond of Liu’s ideas. They vied with one another to buy his books and soon all the one million printed copies were sold out. However, like his predecessors Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, the then CCP general secretary Hu Jintao upheld China’s peaceful rise and did not like Liu’s idea of China’s military rise. Hu did not allow any reprint of Liu’s book.

Xi Jinping Uses China Dream to Unite a Deeply Split China
In order to overcome conservatives resistance to reform and especially to eliminate rampant corruption, Xi Jinping disappeared for two weeks to win support from powerful elders. Soon after Xi Jinping’s reappearance after his mysterious absence in September 2012, Jiang came to Beijing from Shanghai. On September 27, 2012, he presided over an expanded meeting of CCP Politburo and adopted a resolution to punish Bo severely.

However, Jiang only deprived the powerful conservative faction of its leader Bo Xilai but the debate between the conservatives and reformists over evaluation of Mao remained unresolved. The conservative faction remained large and powerful and Maoism remained popular among quite a few people. China remained a deeply split nation over the evaluation of Mao. In Xi Jinping’s further thorough economic reform, He had to overcome not only the resistance from vested interests, especially the powerful group of corrupt officials, but also the fierce opposition from the powerful conservative faction.

For example, not long before the 18th CCP Congress, Li Peng, the arc conservative, published a new book to stress government control of market. Li’s book obviously aims at opposing in theory the reformists’ reform of further economic liberalization. Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao certainly opposed Li’s ideas. However, two weeks after publication on July 12, 2012, CCP’s mouthpiece People’s Daily carried a full-page article to promote Li’s book and denounce mainstream Western economic ideas that advocate free market. That showed conservatives’ strength in CCP’s media. China’s further reform was encountering serious resistance from the conservatives.

The combined strong resistance from vested interests and the conservatives made the reformists unable to move even a step forward in their further reform. That was why Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao had made no significant progress in the further reform they advocated in Hu’s Scientific Outlook on Development.

Xi was fully aware that he and the reformists behind him were not strong enough to surmount the obstacles to reform set by both the vested interests and the conservative faction. He had to adopt the strategy to split his enemies so that he might destroy them one by one as he was stronger than each of the split sections of his enemies.

Moreover, Xi believes that his most important task is to win over those who opposed the reform and make them support the reform as the success of his fight against corruption and for reform depends on popular support. Through analysis, he found that most of the conservatives shared reformists’ dream to make China rich and strong. The conservatives differed from reformists in the ways to realize the dream. They believe the communist way of public ownership and planned economy is the correct way while the reformists advocated a capitalist way to expand private sector and remove state-owned sector’s monopoly of Chinese economy.

Xi was impressed by the success of PLA senior colonel Liu Mingfu’s leftist book “China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post American Era”, a book that rejects reformists’ idea of China’s peaceful rise and advocates, instead, China’s “military rise”. Liu wants China to intensify its military modernization in order to replace the US as world greatest military power. The book became instant bestseller with 1 million copies sold out as soon as it was published. However, the reformists under Hu Jintao banned reprinting of the book due to its leftist ambition that pursues China’s military instead of economic rise. The success of the book proves that most conservatives are patriots that Xi may win over.

With that in mind Xi Jinping invented a way to exploit conservatives’ patriotism to win their support for his reform and fight against corruption by turning Liu Mingfu’s China dream into a dream for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Soon after he became CCP general secretary, he brought all the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) members to visit “The Road Toward Renewal” exhibition in Beijing. There, he said that the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation was the greatest Chinese dream for the Chinese nation now and called on people to strive to realize the dream.

At one stroke, Xi Jinping had rallied around him both the reformists who advocate turning China into a great economic power and the conservatives who advocate turning China into a great military power. Moreover, the vested interests that opposed further reform due to their interests may also think that they may be benefited when China becomes powerful. Xi’s Chinese dream had also reduced their opposition.

In order to win over the conservatives, Xi allowed reprinting of Liu Mingfu’s bestseller. In addition, when Xi Jiping visited Chinese navy on April 11, 2013, he talked about the dream for a militarily powerful China to emphasize that his Chinese dream for a powerful China includes that for a militarily powerful China.
Xi Jinping used his Chinese dream to immediately turn China into a united nation from a nation deeply split between reformists and conservatives over the evaluation of Mao. Some people wondered how Xi was able to punish very powerful generals and officials who though retired, still controlled China’s military and armed police. They did not know that Xi’s Chinese dream has enabled him to have the support of lots of powerful conservatives in the Party who helped Xi eliminate corruption as they shared Xi’s dream to make China rich and strong and hated corruption that hinder the realization of the China dream.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Fierce Power Struggle before Xi Jinping Took Over the Reign


I have mentioned in my previous posts the fierce debates between conservatives and reformists over the capitalist and socialist nature of China’s reform and opening-up. The conflicts between conservatives and reformists continued until Chinese President took over the reign. How did the debates end in the first place?

How Jiang Zemin Put an End to the Debates
Since Deng Xiaoping began his reform and opening up capitalist in nature, there had been fierce debates between reformists and conservatives about the nature of the reform and opening up. Conservatives denounced the reform for its capitalist nature, but Deng and the reformists under him could not deny. Deng knew well as Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought were the dominant ideology at that time, there was no hope for him to defend his pursuit of capitalism against Marxism and Mao Zedong Thought. He resorted to a stalling strategy and told conservatives to wait and see the results of the reform and opening up.

After Tiananmen Protests, conservatism prevailed. Deng had to apply his power as paramount leader (“core of collective leadership” according to his term of expression) to force officials to carry on the reform. His successor Jiang Zemin had to play every trick to overcome conservatives’ opposition in order to carry on Deng’s reform while establishing his power base.

However, when Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji had achieved obvious successes in conducting reform and opening up, the facts of successes silenced opposition. However, Jiang and the reformist theorists knew that ideology was very important in China. Feudal dynasties could each survive for two to three centuries due to the ideological dominance of Confucianism. Jiang had to justify the reform and opening up with Marxism, the dominant ideology in China, to ensure the continuance of reform and CCP’s rule in China. To do so, he used the most fundamental Marxist doctrine that production relations shall suit the requirements of the development of advanced production force.

According to Marx, at first capitalist production relation the private ownership of means of production (enterprises) suited the requirements of the development of advanced productive force so that it replaced the feudal one and brought about prosperity. However, there is the basic contradiction of capitalism that the production is for the society but the means of production (the enterprises) are owned privately by capitalist entrepreneurs, who often make decisions on production for their own profits in disregard of the needs of the society, resulting in overproduction and overcapacity that gave rise to cyclical economic crisis. Marx believed that by that time, the capitalist production relation no longer suited the requirements of the development of advanced production force and should be replaced by communist production relations of public ownership and planned economy.

Marx instructed communists that they should represent the requirements of the development of the advanced productive force and carry out a revolution necessary to put all means of production (enterprises) under public ownership as required by the development of the advanced productive force so that the state can plan the production in accordance with the needs of the society. A planned economy will be the most efficient, Marx believed. Then as the production relations suit the requirements of the development of the advanced productive force, the economy will take off. There will be abundance of all kinds of products to meet the needs of all the people. Everyone including former capitalists whose assets have been confiscated will be benefited. So, Marx said that the proletariat (the working class) would emancipate the entire human race.

However, Marx was not able to foresee that public ownership and planned economy were good in theory, but have been proved inefficient by practice everywhere in the world.

The first of Jiang’s Three Represents goes deeper in Marxist theory for the communists to represent the requirements of the development of advanced productive force. It sums up the lessons of the failures of public ownership and planned economy and the successful experience of China’s capitalist reform and opening up to prove that capitalism instead of communist public ownership and planned economy suits the requirements of the development of advanced productive force in China now. That was why China remained poor and backward for three decades when it had monolithic public ownership and planned economy, but has become rich and prosperous in three decades since it began to carry out its reform and opening up capitalist in nature.

Jiang has thus justifies with Marxist theory Chinese communists’ pursuit of reform and opening up capitalist in nature. However, the Three Represents have not dealt with Mao Zedong Thought, which lots of people still regard as the doctrines China has to observe.

Jiang can say his reform and opening up conform to Marxism, but cannot say that they conform to Mao Zedong Thought that advocate public ownership and planned economy as CCP’s dogma before the reform. Jiang should have negated Mao Zedong Thought but could not as Mao was too popular to negate among lots of Chinese people.

However, Marxist theory is quite abstruse to learn even for secondary school graduates. The fundamental Marxist economic theory, useless in modern economic environment is not taught even in most tertiary schools. As a result, lots of Chinese, even CCP members, know nothing about such theory. They still hold Mao in high esteem as they regard Mao as the symbol of the great Chinese nation perhaps due to Mao’s victory over the strongest nation the US in Korean War though Mao’s doctrines of monolithic public ownership and planned economy were refuted by Jiang’s Three Represents.

Fierce Struggle between Reformists and Conservatives
In his 2010 New Year’s message on New Year’s Eve, Hu Jintao, the then Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary, said: “In the upcoming new year, we will unswervingly uphold the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, further implement the Scientific Outlook on Development under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents,…”

Hu put forth his Scientific Outlook on Development as China had to blaze new trail to replace its old way of pursuing export- and investment-geared growth. China’s export market was shrinking due to world economic recession and quite a few local governments and SOEs might become insolvent as they had borrowed too much for investment-geared growth. Their blind investment had given rise to excessive production capacity in some industries, especially steel and building material industries.

For sustainable economic growth, Hu had to uphold reform and opening up and overcome conservatives’ resistance to further reform and opening up based on Maxism-Leninist theories on public ownership and planned economy, especially Mao Zedong’s extreme leftist thoughts that absolutely ban private business operations of even family private farming or individual hawker’s business.

In CCP’s and China’s constitutions, the guiding ideologies at that time were Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, but Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought were conspicuously missing in Hu’s New Year’s Eve message.

Hu’s above-mentioned words became CCP jargon and were frequently repeated by him and other Chinese leaders and in CCP documents in the last couple of years when Hu was in charge. The then premier Wen Jiabao repeated the exact wording in his speech in celebration of the 61st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 2010.

Hu’s omission was necessary not only for further reform but also for preserving what China had already achieved through reform and opening up. Hu was very clear that opponents to China’s reform may use Mao Zedong’s socialist doctrines of public ownership and collective farming to denounce the reform that not only allows but encourages private enterprises and farming.

Conservatives were much upset by the omission as they still held Mao in high esteem and quite a few of them remained Mao worshipers.

According to a survey in 40 cities including large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan in 2008, 11.5% of the total number of families there had Mao’s statutes or portraits for worship. Those who had statues or portraits of Buddha, God of Wealth or local god of the land for worship accounted for much smaller percentages. Worship of Mao remained hot among common Chinese people. It was especially so when corruption was rampant at that time. Even those who did not worship Mao had nostalgia of Mao era when egalitarianism prevailed and there were no rich-poor gap or the uncertainty caused by the reform and opening-up in people’s lives.

In 2009, the year of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), there was “Mao Zedong Craze” as Mao was PRC founder. Mao’s homeland Shaoshan became a hot red travel spot with thousands of visitors every day. Such enthusiasm remained hot even in late 2012 three years after the 60th anniversary.

Bo Xilai exploited Hu’s omission to rally around him the conservatives who worshiped Mao or held Mao in high esteem in addition to true conservatives who oppose Jiang’s theory. He launched a nation-wide sing-red campaign to advocate Mao’s values and even sent quotation of Mao’s works to all the mobile phones in Chongqing. He had thus become the head of the large and powerful conservative faction in China and launched a fierce power struggle with Hu’s reformists over the evaluation of Mao. Hu and his reformist faction, though in power in China at that time lacked the strength to defeat Bo’s strong conservative faction. They were even unable to punish Bo in spite of the discovery of Bo’s crimes of corruption.

However, if Bo and his faction had remained powerful, Xi Jinping would not have had the power to conduct his anti-corruption campaign or deepen China’s reform. He went to Jiang to request the removal of Bo. Jiang owes Bo’s father Bo Yibo, a deceased powerful CCP elder, for his help in establishing Jiang’s position as the core of CCP leadership when he was alive, but Jiang could not allow Bo to use Maoism to oppose his Three Represents, reform an opening up. He decided to punish Bo severely so as to remove a major obstacle to Xi’s fight against corruption and for further reform.

In September 2012, Jiang came to Beijing to preside over an expanded meeting of CCP Politburo and made the decision to punish Bo severely, but he had not resolve the power struggle between conservatives and reformists. He left the tricky job to Xi his chosen successor to him as the core of CCP leadership.

Article by Chan Kai Yee.


China’s Xi Jinping Not Got the Title of China’s Great Leader Yet


Hong Kong’s Singtao Daily says in its report “Qianxinan Autonomous Prefecture Got Emergent Notice to Withdraw Portrait of Great Leader” on November 19 that since the 19th Congress, Qianxinan Prefecture of Guizhou Province has been vigorously propagate “Great Leader General Secretary Xi Jinping”. Since the beginning of November, standard portraits of Xi marked with “Great Leader General Secretary Xi Jinping” have appeared at all venues of official meetings, government offices and school classrooms. However, in the evening of November 17, the prefecture issued an emergent notice demanding immediate removal of all Xi’s portraits marked with the wording of “great leader” and forbidding the use of such title in all official documents or propaganda.

It is similar to the incident when Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao was elected general secretary the first time in 2002. He was called the “core of central leadership” by local authority but soon such title was removed.

On February 5, 2005, Hu was again referred to as such core at CCTV primetime news, but Chinese authorities and media refrained from using such title afterwards. I pointed out in my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements” that Hu had not gained the position of “core” and that Jiang Zemin remained the core.

In the second enlarged version of the book, I pointed out Jiang had selected Xi to be successor of to him as the “core”.

Jiang, though was the core for more than two decades, has not got the position or title of “great leader”, the title only PRC founder Mao had got. However, that title no longer appears before Mao’s name now.

Chinese politicians care very much about what they will be described in Chinese history. Assumption of exaggerating titles may appear quite stupid in Chinese history.

Xi has been regarded as the core but he still has to apply the art of balancing, a vital part of the art for being an emperor, in setting up his Politburo Standing Committee.

Among the seven member of the committee, Wang Huning and Han Zheng are chosen from Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai faction; Li Keqiang and Wang Yang are of Hu Jintao’s CYL faction; and only Li Zhanshu is Xi’s man. Zhao Leji belongs to no faction, which makes him the best choice to be in charge of fighting corruption as he will be free from the influence of any faction, not even Xi’s faction that has not fully taken shape. Otherwise, the fight against corruption will utterly fail as it will be turned into the power struggle between various factions. The victorious factions will be even more corrupt after their victory.

I described in the second version of my book why Xi had to convince all the factions that his struggle against corruption is not power struggle as the struggle would have failed at its very beginning if it had been power struggle.

Xi’s first five-year reign has proved his great wisdom and courage, but he has not shown whether he is competent as a great leader.

In Chinese history, a great leader shall first of all have the ability to identify talents and appoint them to important official posts to give play to their talents.

We see quite a few new faces in Xi’s new Politburo but still have to wait for their actual performance in the coming five years to prove that Xi has made the right choices.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Singtao’s report, full text of which in Chinese can be found at https://hk.news.yahoo.com/%E9%BB%94%E8%A5%BF%E5%8D%97%E5%B7%9E%E6%8E%A5%E7%B7%8A%E6%80%A5%E9%80%9A%E7%9F%A5-%E6%92%A4-%E5%81%89%E5%A4%A7%E9%A0%98%E8%A2%96-%E8%82%96%E5%83%8F-221124254.html.


Power Struggle, The Excuse to Oppose Xi’s Anti-corruption Campaign


Wang Qishan, China’s chief corruption buster who has the largest number of strong enemies in the world. Photo: Reuters

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


The Conundrum of Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream


Liu Mingfu, conservative author of leftist book “Chinese Dream”, the term Xi Jinping has used to unite reformists and conservatives

I promised in my post “The Conundrum of Jiang Zemin Justifying Pursuit of Capitalism with Marxism” on March 30 that I will describe how Chinese president Xi Jinping put an end to the fierce struggle between conservatives and reformists.

In that post I describe how Jiang Zemin applied the fundamental Marxist theory to justify China’s reform and opening up capitalist in nature with his Three Presents. However, Jiang “cannot say that they conform to Mao Zedong Thought that advocate public ownership and planned economy, which was CCP’s dogma before the reform. Jiang should have negated Mao Zedong Thought but could not as Mao was too popular to negate among lots of Chinese people.

“Marxist theory is quite abstruse to learn even for secondary school graduates. The fundamental Marxist economic theory is not taught even in most tertiary schools as it is useless in modern economic environment. As a result, lots of Chinese, even CCP members, know nothing about such theory. They still hold Mao in high esteem as they regard Mao as the symbol of the great Chinese nation perhaps due to Mao’s victory over the strongest nation the US in Korean War though Mao’s doctrines of monolithic public ownership and planned economy were refuted by Jiang’s Three Represents.

Fierce Struggle between Reformists and Conservatives
In his 2010 New Year’s message on New Year’s Eve, Hu Jintao, the then Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary, said: “In the upcoming new year, we will unswervingly uphold the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, further implement the Scientific Outlook on Development under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents,…”

Hu put forth his Scientific Outlook on Development as China had to blaze new trail to replace its old way of pursuing export- and investment-geared growth. China’s export market was shrinking due to world economic recession and quite a few local governments and SOEs might become insolvent as they had borrowed too much for investment-geared growth. Their blind investment had given rise to excessive production capacity in some industries, especially steel and building material industries.

For sustainable economic growth, Hu had to uphold reform and opening up and overcome conservatives’ resistance to further reform and opening up based on Maxism-Leninist theories on public ownership and planned economy, especially Mao Zedong’s extreme leftist thoughts that absolutely ban private business operations of even family private farming or individual hawker’s business.

In CCP’s and China’s constitutions, the guiding ideologies at that time were Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, but Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought were conspicuously missing in Hu’s New Year’s Eve message.

Hu’s above-mentioned words became CCP jargon and were frequently repeated by him and other Chinese leaders and in CCP documents in the last couple of years when Hu was in charge. The then premier Wen Jiabao repeated the exact wording in his speech in celebration of the 61st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 2010.

Hu’s omission was necessary not only for further reform but also for preserving what China had already achieved through reform and opening up. Hu was very clear that opponents to China’s reform may use Mao Zedong’s socialist doctrines of public ownership and collective farming to denounce the reform that not only allows but encourages private enterprises and farming.

Conservatives were much upset by the omission as they still held Mao in high esteem and quite a few of them remained Mao worshipers.

According to a survey in 40 cities including large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan in 2008, 11.5% of the total number of families there had Mao’s statutes or portraits for worship. Those who had statues or portraits of Buddha, God of Wealth or local god of the land for worship accounted for much smaller percentages. Worship of Mao remained hot among common Chinese people. It was especially so when corruption was rampant at that time. Even those who did not worship Mao had nostalgia of Mao era when egalitarianism prevailed and there were no rich-poor gap or the uncertainty caused by the reform and opening-up in people’s lives
.
In 2009, the year of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), there was “Mao Zedong Craze” as Mao was PRC founder. Mao’s homeland Shaoshan became a hot red travel spot with thousands of visitors every day. Such enthusiasm remained hot even in late 2012 three years after the 60th anniversary.

Bo Xilai exploited Hu’s omission to rally around him the conservatives who worshiped Mao or held Mao in high esteem in addition to true conservatives who oppose Jiang’s theory. He launched a nation-wide sing-red campaign to advocate Mao’s values and even sent quotation of Mao’s works to all the mobile phones in Chongqing. He had thus become the head of the large and powerful conservative faction in China and thus launched a fierce power struggle with Hu’s reformists over the evaluation of Mao. Hu and his reformist faction, though in power in China at that time lacked the strength to defeat Bo’s strong conservative faction. They were even unable to punish Bo in spite of the discovery of Bo’s crimes of corruption.

However, if Bo and his faction had remained powerful, Xi Jinping would not have had the power to conduct his anti-corruption campaign or deepen China’s reform. He went to Jiang to request the removal of Bo. Jiang owes Bo’s father Bo Yibo, a deceased powerful CCP elder, for his help in establishing Jiang’s position as the core of CCP leadership when he was alive, but Jiang could not allow Bo to use Maoism to oppose his Three Represents, reform an opening up. He decided to punish Bo severely so as to remove a major obstacle to Xi’s fight against corruption and for further reform.

Xi Jinping Uses Chinese Dream to Unite a Deeply Split China
Soon after Xi Jinping’s reappearance after his mysterious absence in September 2012 (a conundrum to be bared later), Jiang came to Beijing from Shanghai. On September 27, 2012, he presided over an expanded meeting of CCP Politburo and adopted a resolution to punish Bo severely.

However, Jiang only deprived the powerful conservative faction of its leader Bo Xilai but the debate between the conservatives and reformists over evaluation of Mao remained unresolved. The conservative faction remained large and powerful and Maoism remained popular among quite a few people. China remained a deeply split nation over the evaluation of Mao. In Xi Jinping’s further thorough economic reform, He had to overcome not only the resistance from vested interests, especially the powerful group of corrupt officials, but also the fierce opposition from the powerful conservative faction.

For example, not long before the 18th CCP Congress, Li Peng, the arc conservative, published a new book to stress government control of market. Li’s book obviously aims at opposing in theory the reformists’ reform of further economic liberalization. Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao certainly opposed Li’s ideas. However, two weeks after publication on July 12, 2012, CCP’s mouthpiece People’s Daily carried a full-page article to promote Li’s book and denounce mainstream Western economic ideas that advocate free market. That showed conservatives’ strength in CCP’s media. China’s further reform was encountering serious resistance from the conservatives.

The combined strong resistance from vested interests and the conservatives made the reformists unable to move even a step forward in their further reform. That was why Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao had made no significant progress in the further reform they advocated in Hu’s Scientific Outlook on Development.

Xi was fully aware that he and the reformists behind him were not strong enough to surmount the obstacles to reform set by both the vested interests and the conservative faction. He had to adopt the strategy to split his enemies so that he might destroy them one by one as he was stronger than each of the split sections of his enemies.

Moreover, Xi believes that his most important task is to win over those who opposed the reform and make them support the reform as the success of his fight against corruption and for reform depends on popular support. Through analysis, he found that most of the conservatives shared reformists’ dream to make China rich and strong. The conservatives differed from reformists in the ways to realize the dream. They believe the communist way of public ownership and planned economy is the correct way while the reformists advocated a capitalist way to expand private sector and remove state-owned sector’s monopoly of Chinese economy.

Xi was impressed by the success of PLA senior colonel Liu Mingfu’s leftist book “China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post American Era”, a book that rejects reformists’ idea of China’s peaceful rise and advocates, instead, China’s “military rise”. Liu wants China to intensify its military modernization in order to replace the US as world greatest military power. The book became instant bestseller with 1 million copies sold out as soon as it was published. However, the reformists under Hu Jintao banned reprinting of the book due to its leftist ambition that pursues China’s military instead of economic rise. The success of the book proves that most conservatives are patriots that Xi may win over.

With that in mind Xi Jinping invented a way to exploit conservatives’ patriotism to win their support for his reform. He expands Liu Mingfu’s China dream into a dream for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Soon after he became CCP general secretary, he brought all the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) members to visit “The Road Toward Renewal” exhibition in Beijing. There, he said that the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation was the greatest Chinese dream for the Chinese nation now and called on people to strive to realize the dream.

At one stroke, Xi Jinping had rallied around him both the reformists who advocate turning China into a great economic power and the conservatives who advocate turning China into a great military power. Moreover, the vested interests that opposed further reform due to their interests may also think that they may be benefited when China becomes powerful. Xi’s Chinese dream had also reduced their opposition.

In order to win over the conservatives, Xi allowed reprinting of Liu Mingfu’s bestseller. In addition, when Xi Jiping visited Chinese navy on April 11, 2013, he talked about the dream for a militarily powerful China to emphasize that his Chinese dream for a powerful China includes that for a militarily powerful China.

Xi Jinping used his Chinese dream to immediately turn China into a united nation from a nation deeply split between reformists and conservatives over the evaluation of Mao. Some people wondered how Xi was able to punish very powerful generals and officials who though retired, still controlled China’s military and armed police. They did not know that Xi’s Chinese dream has enabled him to have the support of lots of powerful conservatives in the Party who helped Xi eliminate corruption as they shared Xi’s dream to make China rich and strong and hated corruption that hinder the realization of the Chinese dream.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Chief of staff to Chinese president reveals details surrounding purge in secretariat


The purge began after Ling Jihua, who served former president Hu Jintao, fell under suspicion for corruption. He was jailed for life last month for bribery, among other crimes. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The purge began after Ling Jihua, who served former president Hu Jintao, fell under suspicion for corruption. He was jailed for life last month for bribery, among other crimes. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Several key members of the Communist Party’s nerve centre hindered the investigation into former top aide Ling Jihua, says Li Zhanshu

The chief of staff to Chinese President Xi Jinping has revealed startling details of a power struggle within the Communist Party’s secretariat related to the investigation of a former leadership aide.

The comments shed some light on a recent purge within the General Office of the Central Committee – the nerve centre of the party – following the downfall of the aide, Ling Jihua.

Ling, who served former president Hu Jintao, was jailed for life last month for bribery, among other crimes.

According to the chief of staff, Li Zhanshu, several key members of the secretariat had hindered the investigation into Ling.

“During the investigation … some had hidden facts and some had resisted the investigation. Those are not honest people,” Li said in a speech delivered in June to the General Office.

An edited transcript of Li’s remarks was carried on the website of People’s Daily on Friday.

“During Ling’s stint in office, some people courted, pandered to, and flattered him without ­principles,” he said.

The car accident that killed Ling Jihua’s son in Beijing. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The car accident that killed Ling Jihua’s son in Beijing. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Ling worked for 17 years in the office, which handles security, health care, paperwork and logistics for top leaders, with his last five as its chief. He was removed after his son died in a Ferrari car crash in Beijing in March 2012, an accident that fundamentally shifted the dynamic of China’s once-in-a-decade transition of power.

In the past three years, at least eight senior cadres from the office have also been removed from their posts. Among them is Huo Ke, who was the director of the office’s secretary bureau. He was expelled from the party for taking bribes and leaking state secrets to Ling, according to earlier state media reports.

Another casualty was Xia Yong, the former director of the office’s research branch, who was expelled from the country’s top advisory body, a punishment that indirectly confirms a reported investigation into his activities.

“When Ling told you to tell a lie, if you really didn’t dare to tell the truth, you could at least remain silent; when Ling did wrong, if you didn’t have the courage to expose it, you could at least refrain from being an accomplice,” Li said, according to the transcript.

Li said office employees – from drivers and chefs to guards and clerks – must remain absolutely loyal to the party – echoing an instruction made by Xi during an inspection in 2014.

Li, 66, also gave insight into the daily workloads of leaders and the sort of hours they kept.

“From the General Secretary [Xi] to other central leaders, who has the luxury to take a good rest during holidays? Often, documents are sent to our leaders at 11pm or even midnight, and signed documents are often received from our leaders at 11pm or midnight,” Li said.

He pointed to the visit that Xi made to Serbia, Poland and Uzbekistan in late June as an example. Xi stayed in Serbia for 49 hours and his itinerary comprised 17 events; his 39-hour stop in Poland saw him involved in 13 events, while his three-day visit to Uzbekistan was filled with 36 events.

Xi “often started from very early in the morning and returned to the residence at 9pm or 10pm, without a lunch break, and he still had to read documents and handle daily administrative affairs”, Li said.

Source: SCMP “Chief of staff to Chinese president reveals details surrounding purge in secretariat”

Note: This is SCMP’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.