No 2nd Generation of CCP Collective Leadership in China

China’s Core System (2) (Part (1) is my post “The Conundrum of China’s Collective Leadership” dated January 28)

What about the second generation of collective leadership which according to Deng, he was its core?

From 1977 after Mao’s death to 1987 the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) of CCP Central Committee was controlled by powerful elders Ye Jianying (who died in 1985), Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yun and Li Xinian, which to some extent can be regarded as leadership of three elders, an oligarchy instead of a collective leadership. When Deng, Chen and Li retired from the PSC in 1987, through Bo Yibo Deng told Chen and Li and got their consent that there should be only one mother-in-law for the new PSC that took office in late 1987, said Zhao Ziyang in his secret memoir. It made clear that Deng was the only one who had the power of leadership and all the other members of the so-called collective leadership had to accept Deng’s leadership faithfully, i.e. Deng was the core who had the final say.

What about the new PSC?

As Zhao Ziyang, the demoted CCP general secretary, pointed out in his secret memoir, all the PSC members were but “daughter-in-laws” who had to obey the instructions of Deng who regarded himself as PSC members’ “mother-in-law”. There was no collective leadership of the PSC after the three powerful elders Deng, Chen and Li had retired from the PSC. The general secretary and the PSC simply did what Deng told them to do. Deng was the real leader behind the scene.

Before Tiananmen protests, Deng consulted other elders in making major decisions for the PSC. If there had been collective leadership, it must have been the collective leadership of powerful elders led by Deng. However, powerful elders differed in their opinions on the way to deal with Tiananmen protests so that Deng had to make the hard decision of armed suppression alone. Deng realized that there had to be a strongman as the core of CCP collective leadership able to make hard decision alone like him.

That was why Deng appointed his successor Jiang Zemin as the core of the third generation of CCP collective leadership. He wanted there to be a strongman like him. As an experienced politician and general, Deng certainly knew that the core had to have the power as the core, which could not be transferred by him but had to be established by Jiang on his own. However, he had to set the example what power a core should have.

He used Mao as an example but it was not good enough. Then he set his Southern Tour as an example to Jiang that a core had the power to tell all officials to act in accordance with his instructions no matter whether the core hold any official position or not.

Deng said during his well-known Southern Tour that those who would not carry on his reform and opening-up should be fired. At that time there was serious backlash due to the Tiananmen Protests. Conservatives’ resistance to the reform had almost put an end to Deng’s reform. Jiang Zeming, though a true reformist, appeared like a conservative as Deng had given him the instruction that Jiang’s priority was to establish his powerbase. At that time nearly all China watchers outside China regarded Jiang as a conservative.

Deng alone without official position recovered the reform by his power as the core of CCP leadership.

Where was CCP’s collective leadership?

There was no collective leadership at all. There was only the leadership of the core. Deng had no need to call a meeting of PSC to discuss and approve his instruction. He simply gave his instruction. What the PSC should do was to discuss the way to carry out Deng’s instruction.

That was why I said in my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements” that China’s political system was CCP Dynasty and the core of CCP Dynasty was in fact the emperor of the dynasty.

It seems bad, but is in reality good. If the core does not remain in power there will be no continuity of his wise policy. In Deng’s case, China’s reform and opening-up would not have been carried on after Tiananmen Protests.

A leader with wisdom and integrity is very rare, if a country has found one it shall keep him as the leader until the time he is unable or unwilling to bear the heavy burdens of leadership.

It will be much better if such a leader is found and appointed when he is young. There will be much more time for him to play his wonderful role as a leader to bring prosperity to his country and happiness to his people. China’s well-known prime minister Zhuge Liang was appointed top advisor to Liu Bei (later emperor of the Empire of Shuhan) when he was only 27. He helped Liu set up the Empire and was its prime minister for more than two decades until he died at the age of 54.

The problem now is that a man with wisdom and integrity is appointed leader when he is about sixty years old and can only serve 2 to 3 terms. Therefore, it is good that he will remain the core and continue his leadership after his retirement. That was the case with Deng Xiaoping. It is also the case with Jiang Zemin.

Deng became the core in 1978 and retired from all official posts in 1990 but had to remain in charge after his retirement though he was succeeded by Jiang his chosen core of the third generation of CCP leadership. As Jiang had not established his powerbase as the core, when conservatives had almost put an end to Deng’s reform, Deng conducted his Southern Tour in 1992 to bring China back to the course of reform and opening-up.

What power did Deng have to make the whole CCP and country obey his instruction to carry on his reform? His power as the core of CCP leadership. In 1990, Deng retired from his last official post as the chairman of Central Military Commissions but had not retired from his position as the core of CCP leadership. China is lucky Deng though became leader in 1978 when he had already been 74 quite old to bear the burdens of leadership, he lived a long life and could rule China for nearly two decades till he died at the age of 93. If Deng had become Chinese leader earlier and ruled China longer, Jiang would not have encountered so much difficulty in establishing his powerbase as the core of the third generation of CCP leadership.

Deng told Jiang he would not rest at ease until Jiang had actually become the core. He helped Jiang obtain control of PLA (the People’s Liberation Army) by removal of Yang brothers’ control of PLA. Still by 1997 before the 15th Congress Jiang was challenged by PSC members Qiao Shi and Li Peng. As Deng was dead by that time, Jiang sought powerful elder Bo Yibo’s support to maintain his position as the core.

Jiang was chosen as the core in 1989 but by 1997, he still had not fully established his position as the core. He had really gained the power as the core but we do not know the exact time when Jiang had really established enough powerbase as the core. If we assume that he really became the core by 1997, he only ruled China as the core for about 2 decades till now when he was succeeded by his chosen successor Xi Jinping.

Hu Jintao has never gained the position as the core though he has set up his very strong CYL faction.

As Jiang remained the core and remained in charge, the PSC with Hu as the head was not a collective leadership; therefore, there was no third generation of collective leadership either. This will be elaborated in my next post.

Article by Chan Kai Yee

China: Central government’s key economic conference to put focus on reform

SCMP reports: “The central government’s key annual economic planning conference began with a call for deeper reform, even as economists warned that any meaningful changes would mean slower short-term growth.

“The two-day Central Economic Work Conference would prioritise quality economic development over the pace of growth, Xinhua reported, citing economists from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“The central government would work to assure economic stability, expand domestic demand and speed up economic restructuring.

“The policy-setting meeting in Beijing has drawn particular attention this year, coming on the heels of a once-in-a-decade reshuffle that saw Xi Jinping installed as leader of the ruling Communist Party.

“During a tour of Guangdong province last week, Xi stressed the need for comprehensive and systemic economic reform, something that he said required courage, toughness and realism, according to Xinhua.”

“Stephen Green, greater China head of research at Standard Chartered, said the market was awaiting details of any policies that came out of the conference. ‘They are talking a good game,’ Green said. ‘We want to see some substance. Economic reform is complicated. You need a plan.’”

For details, please visit SCMP website at:

Xi Jinping: Brook Not a Moment’s Delay in Restructuring Economy

China’s new party boss Xi Jinping held a meeting with government officials and entrepreneurs in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, on Dec. 9, 2012. He interacted intensively with the participants in the meeting while they raised the problems with tax, financial and land policies, the bleak trade outlook and the difficulties encountered by small enterprises.

Regarding those problems, Xi urged relevant authorities to work on measures to solve them through deepening reforms, improving the market economic system and government functions and enhancing law enforcement.

According to the English version Xinhua’s report on the event, Xi said at the meeting, “Difficulties and challenges, as well as advantages and positive factors, shall be taken into account to promote healthy economic growth in a solid way.”

“We should remain cool-headed. We should acknowledge the economic and social achievements we have made so far this year and recognize the long-term fundamentals will remain sound,” he said.

Xi also urged accelerating economic restructuring and resolutely pushing innovation forward. Xi described the goals as imperative and in line with trends.

Hong Kong media including SCMP, Singtao Daily and Ming Pao pay great attention to Xi’s stress on economic restructuring. SCMP even begins its report by saying “Party chief calls on business leaders and officials to ‘accept no delay’ in restructuring economy”. Indeed restructuring is the key to the reform of further economic liberalization. However, the above-mentioned English version of Xinhua report fails to quote Xi in details in this respect

The Chinese version of Xinhua report however gives quite detailed quote of Xi’s words. I give its English translation below:

“Xi Jinping stresses, speeding up and boosting the strategic adjustment of our economic structure is the trend of times. It brooks not a moment’s delay. International competition has always been a competition in time and speed. The one who acts fast will grasp the opportunity earlier, control the high ground and gain the initiative. Those who are slow in act will lose the opportunity and fall behind the others. We shall continue to carry out brave exploration, do our work in a solid manner, steadfastly boost structural innovation and scientific and technological innovation, earnestly implement the strategy of driving development by innovation, promote the transformation of our mode of economic development, boost the strategic adjustment of our economic structure and bring about new driving force in promoting scientific development.”

Sources: Xinhua, SCMP, Ming Pao, Singtao Daily

China: Xi Jinping adopts casual, open air on visit to Shenzhen

SCMP reports: “All smiles and charm, president-to-be breaks with past protocol and displays common touch on walkabout – but most journalists excluded

“About 200 Shenzhen residents had an unexpectedly close encounter with Xi Jinping yesterday as the new Communist Party chief turned on the charm during the second day of his southern tour.

“Xi, the president-to-be, shook hands with several people who had gathered in advance of his 10am visit to Lotus Hill, and even answered questions from a pair of Hong Kong journalists in the crowd.

“Asked what message he had for Hongkongers, Xi said: ‘Hong Kong will definitely stay thriving and prosperous.’

“Xi, 59, is known for his casual, approachable style, but previous party general secretaries have preferred more choreographed public appearances.

“‘The party’s decision [to implement the] open-door policy and reform is correct and we have to continue unswervingly. … We also should take new ground,’ he told his entourage.

“The visit to Lotus Hill Park, which features a bronze statue of late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, appeared intended to emphasise the new leader’s commitment to the economic ‘opening up’ policies that helped make Shenzhen the booming metropolis it is today.

“Xi is following in the footsteps of Deng on his famous 1992 southern tour. He has ordered that the visit he kept low-key, banning red carpets and elaborate banquets.

“Security also seemed less restrictive. Before Xi’s arrival, police told the people at the park that they could stay. Normally, only a carefully selected few are allowed to observe such events.

“Most reporters, however, were shuffled out.”

“Xi left for Zhuhai and Shunde yesterday afternoon and is expected to make another public appearance in Guangzhou today.

“While security was less visible in Shenzhen, road users in Zhuhai complained on Sina Weibo of route closures yesterday afternoon.

“Although his trip has been covered by Hong Kong and overseas media, neither Xinhua nor CCTV has reported on it yet.”

For details, please visit SCMP website at:

China: Echoes of Deng Xiaoping’s southern tour, Xi Jinping’s trip to Shenzhen

SCMP reports: “New party boss evokes memories of ex-leader’s 1992 tour and issues a signal of his commitment to change by heading to Shenzhen on first trip

“Xi Jinping has decided Shenzhen will be the venue for his first inspection trip as the party’s new general secretary.

“It is a move political observers say pays tribute to the famous southern tour of Deng Xiaoping in 1992 and sends a signal of commitment to deepening reform.

“A Shenzhen propaganda official said Xi, who will succeed Hu Jintao as president in March, would follow in the footsteps of Deng’s tour to ‘express his determination to further deepen China’s reform’.

“Xi is due to visit the Yunong fishing village in Luohu, the Qianhai experimental zone and export factories in Shekou today, before heading to Zhuhai and Guangzhou.”

For details, please visit SCMP website at: