China’s Xi Jinping to establish his powerbase through leadership reshuffle

The upcoming congress will see five of the seven Politburo Standing Committee members retire. They are (from left) Wang Qishan, Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang and Yu Zhengsheng. Photos: Xinhua, Reuters

The upcoming congress will see five of the seven Politburo Standing Committee members retire. They are (from left) Wang Qishan, Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang and Yu Zhengsheng. Photos: Xinhua, Reuters

Jiang Zemin, the core of the third generation of CCP leadership, has chosen Xi Jinping as his successor as the core of the CCP Dynasty, with a core like an emperor (see the section “Signs of Jiang Zemin’s Intention to Have Xi Jinping Succeed Him as the Core” in Chapter 16 of my book Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements Expanded 2nd Edition).

Jiang is now in Beijing to help Xi deal with the tricky issues Xi is facing, and to establish Xi’s powerbase (see my post “Retired Chinese Leader Jiang Zemin Stays in Beijing to Help Xi”).

I described the difficulty of succession in the section “Succession to the Core Is the Trickiest Problem” in Chapter 6 of my book:

One thing quite interesting in Chinese politics is that there are no definitions, codes or rules whatever about the power of an emperor in the past, and the core of the CCP now. In fact, even if there were some codes or rules, there is no institution or mechanism to enforce them.

An emperor could have absolute power, like Emperor Shihuangdi of Qin (259-221 BC), but might also have almost no power like Shihuangdi’s successor Huhai, whose power was usurped by Zhao Gao, a eunuch.

Seeing that the sovereign power in quite a few states was usurped by powerful courtiers at the end of the Period of Warring States (476-221 BC), Han Fei Tzu, a Legalist master, wrote a book entitled Han Fei Tzu to teach sovereigns of state the art for being an emperor.

Shihuangdi’s practice of Han’s art proved his great shortcoming in failure to ensure smooth succession. In later dynasties, the art was greatly improved and enriched. As described in my book, Jiang skilfully applied the art to establish his powerbase. I said in my book:

For the Party, the best way to have a successor to the core is to appoint the successor the posts of general secretary and concurrently the CMC (Central Military Commission) chairman, but as mentioned in Chapter 1, that general secretary and CMC chairman may only be a “daughter-in-law” (the term used by Deng Xiaoping to denote the then Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) members in Zhao Ziyang’s secret memoir. Deng regarded himself as the “mother-in-law” who had dominating power over the daughters-in-law according to Chinese tradition.) He has to obey the instructions of the core who will be the “mother-in-law”, or to a number of powerful elders, i.e. several “mothers-in-law” if there is no core.

From this, we can see how serious China’s problems are. Even in a developing country such as India, Indonesia or the Philippines, when a person is elected the prime minister or president, he naturally has the power of his office as soon as he has been elected in the parliament or inaugurated. In China, however, a Party leader elected by the Party central committee may be powerless and the country may remain dominated by the elders who hold no official posts at all. In order to really have power and be firmly established, the leader has to gradually establish his powerbase and become the core. Even if he is lucky enough to really succeed in establishing his powerbase, it will take at least several years. Anyway, it is a very difficult process because he should be skilled in applying the art for being an emperor.

To really become the core, there must not only be a reshuffle to appoint one’s protégés to important posts, but more importantly to create bondage with them to ensure their loyalty.

Jiang has been successful in doing so. As a result, he has always managed to have a majority of his protégés in the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) since his retirement.

Hu Jintao, however, has not obtained the status as the core, and has not even been chosen by Jiang as the successor to the core, even though he has appointed many of his protégés to powerful posts through a great deal of reshuffles. Why? Because he failed to create close bondage with his protégés. As a result, he could not rally all the members of his large and powerful Youth League faction to contend with Jiang’s Shanghai faction.

Everybody expected that there would be a reshuffle after Xi took over the reigns, but that is not the key issue. What we are interested in is: first whether Xi will find and appoint honest and talented officials to important posts ,and second and more important, whether Xi is able to create bondage with them to ensure their loyalty.

The following is the full text of SCMP’s article today on the coming reshuffle in China:

Xi Jinping paves the way for leadership reshuffle

Retirements in Politburo Standing Committee strengthen president’s hand

The first change of personnel involving a Politburo member since the 18th party congress suggests that President Xi Jinping has kick-started his preparation for the semi-leadership transition at the 19th party congress when a large number of top officials are expected to retire.

Analysts said the recent secondment of Politburo member Sun Chunlan from the post of Tianjin party secretary to be the head of the party’s United Front Work Department was the first such step since November 2012, and paved the way for a major reshuffle of personnel in 2017.

Sun took over the party portfolio from Ling Jihua one week after the aide to former president Hu Jintao was placed under investigation for graft. Sun’s post was taken by Tianjin mayor Huang Xingguo, 60, an ally of Xi’s since their days working together in the coastal Zhejiang province. Huang’s promotion suggests he is likely to be elevated to the Politburo as the Tianjin party post usually comes with a seat in the 25-person body.

Analysts expect Xi to make the reshuffle his priority this year, as the upcoming congress will see five of the seven Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) members – all except Xi and Premier Li Keqiang – retire due to age.

Another six members in the Politburo, the second most powerful body, will also step down by then as they will all pass the compulsory retirement age of 68 in 2017. The remaining 12 Politburo members, excluding Xi and Li, will compete for the five PSC seats, the party’s innermost cabinet, while about 250 Central Committee members will compete for one of 11 Politburo seats.

Steve Tsang, from the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham, said top-level changes at the 19th Congress were required by retirement rules and Xi was more aware of this than anyone else.

Heading into his third year in office, Xi appears more confident with his status, having emerged as the most powerful leader in the post-Deng Xiaoping era. In the past two years, Xi has set out a vision for his two five-year terms. At the Third Plenum of the 18th Party Central Committee in November 2013, the leadership mapped out comprehensive reforms to the social, economic and government systems. At the fourth plenary session in October, the leadership agreed to overhaul the judicial system to promote “rule by law” and “constitutional rule”.

Hong Kong-based analyst Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Xi would shift his focus to personnel matters this year and next, with only two plenary sessions of the Central Committee left before 2017.

Zhang Ming, a political scientist with Renmin University, said he believed Xi would use the upcoming party congress as a platform to consolidate his status as paramount leader after Deng.

Xiaoyu Pu, professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno, said the contest for a seat on the Politburo and its smaller Standing Committee would depend on many factors and much remained uncertain. But Lau said Xi had probably already made a shortlist of candidates for both bodies, though he might take some time to test “the ability and loyalty of these guys”.

“President Xi might take this year and next to decide who he likes in 2017,” Lau said.

Lau said that Xi would focus on consolidating his influence in the Central Committee, the panel that selects the Politburo, by stacking it with supporters.

Analysts said Xi would use his anti-graft campaign to dismantle vested interest groups and tighten his grip on power.

The campaign has already detained and expelled from the party several allies and aides of former leaders, including former security chief Zhou Yongkang and retired general Xu Caihou, both of whom had been under the patronage of former president Jiang Zemin . Jiang is believed to be the leader of the “Shanghai faction” – which comprises officials from the financial hub – while Hu is head of the “Youth League faction” – comprised of those who once served in the Communist Youth League.

The party watchdog has detained about 30 officials at the vice-ministerial level or higher for graft since December 2012.

Zhang said the “process of purges and personnel reshuffles will likely continue through the next several months.”

Source: SCMP “Xi Jinping paves the way for leadership reshuffle”
Source: Chan Kai Yee Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements Expanded 2nd Edition


Categories: Politics & Law

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4 replies


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