Jockeying is under way over key political appointments with the 19th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party still more than a year away.
State media gave us a glimpse of the goings-on in the party leadership through its extensive coverage of a new book by former president Hu Jintao.
The Selected Works of Hu Jintao, a collection of speeches from 2002 to 2012 when he was president, made front-page news in the Sept. 20 edition of the official People’s Daily.
In an editorial, the newspaper praised Hu for proposing the so-called “scientific outlook on development” which it said has become a party guideline.
Such surprisingly high-profile coverage would never have been possible without permission from President Xi Jinping.
Xi has never been a fan of Hu and his moderate ideology.
After Xi succeeded Hu in 2012, he immediately jettisoned his predecessor’s policy of tolerance toward civil society.
Instead, Xi adopted an ultra-left and almost tyrannical policy on dissent, hence his massive crackdown and brutal suppression of religious freedom and civil liberties.
Xi’s Maoist approach is a radical departure from the relatively moderate politics of Hu.
Many believe Xi allowed official praise for Hu and his political legacy as a peace offering to his predecessor’s supporters, some of whom still hold key positions in the party, in the run-up to the party congress.
Xi’s relations with Hu’s supporters and former lieutenants remain tense.
Many of Hu’s former top subordinates have been purged from the party by Xi in the course of consolidating his own power.
Among them is Ling Jihua, one of Hu’s most loyal lieutenants and former director of the general secretariat of the central committee.
The high-profile arrest of Ling and his conviction on graft charges were widely seen an attempt by Xi to remove Hu’s remaining influence.
Dismayed and outraged, many of Hu’s allies in the Youth League faction have turned to former president Jiang Zemin for help and protection.
However, while many in Hu’s faction continue to fight a rearguard action against Xi’s purges, some have decided to defect.
Among them is Hu Chunwah, the party secretary of Guangdong and a seasoned Youth League stalwart.
He ordered the Southern Daily, the provincial party mouthpiece, to downplay its coverage of Hu’s book.
Hu was also behind the recent brutal suppression of restive Wukan village, an apparent attempt to please Xi.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 22
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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