Lie Beneath Chinese Premier’s ‘Reform’ Remarks: Political Struggle
Posted by Author on September 1, 2010
By Quincy Yu, Epoch Times Staff, Sep 1, 201o –
In a recent speech China’s Premier Wen Jiabao made unusual comments about “pushing forward political reform.” His remarks may indicate that there is an intense power struggle inside the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), between the reformers and the conservatives, before the Party’s 18th Congress in 2012. His remarks also raise the question of how genuine political reform is possible under the CCP’s autocratic rule.
Political reform has not been much discussed publicly by CCP officials since the 13th Congress in 1987; subsequent political reforms were all about “administrative system reform.” Wen’s speech this time, therefore, was quite unusual.
On Aug. 21, Wen gave a speech in Shenzhen where he said “We need to promote not only economic reform, but also political reform. Without the safeguarding of political restructuring, the achievement through economic restructuring will be lost again, and it will be impossible to reach our goal of modernization.”
While in Tokyo on June 1, Wen made more specific points in an interview with Japan’s NHK Television: “Political restructuring should focus on four aspects: First, build socialist democracy and ensure people’s right to vote, to stay informed about, participate in, and oversee government affairs; second, improve the socialist legal system, govern the country according to law and build a country under the rule of law; third, achieve social equity and justice; and fourth, realize the all-round development of the people in a free environment.”
On the surface, Wen’s call for political ‘restructuring’ sounds as if a turn from totalitarianism to democracy is about to take place. However, according to observers, the premier’s comments are more likely the signal of a power struggle, as different factions vie for prominence and to define the agenda.
Conservatives vs. Reformers
According to Boxun, an overseas Chinese website focused on politics and human rights on the mainland, the conservatives, which mainly consist of “princelings”—children of the 1949 Maoist revolutionaries—hope that Xi Jinping and Bo Xilai will become the next Party chief and premiere at the 18th Party Congress.
Xi Jinping is a top-ranking member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of China, and carries the title of “China’s Vice President.” His father, Xi Zhongxun, was Deputy Prime Minister from 1959 to 1962. Bo Xilai is Secretary of the Chongqing Municipal Chinese Communist Party Committee; his father, Bo Yibo, served as Minister of Finance from 1949 to 1953 and as vice premier in 1956, 1959, 1965 and 1979.
Reformers, on the other hand, hope to keep princelings out of the central power base and want those who rose up through the ranks of the Party’s Youth League to be the next top leaders. They advocate Li Keqiang becoming the next Chairman, Wang Qishan becoming premier, and Wang Huning to be chief of the Central Propaganda Department.
Power Struggle Apparent
Recently, Hong Kong’s Phoenix Weekly reported that Lieutenant General Liu Yazhou, a commander in the Chinese military and a member of the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection, stated “without political reform China is doomed.”
Liu is the first senior active-duty military officer to make outspoken public remarks in support of Chinese political reform since 1989 without backlash from the regime. He is favored by Chinese leader Hu Jintao, who promoted Liu in December 2009 from Deputy Political Commissar of the Air Force to the Political Commissar of PLA University for National Defense.
Conservatives have never quite agreed with former leader Deng Xiaoping’s (1978 to 1992) ideology of “reform and opening-up.” In 2009 Zhang Deqin, a conservative, published an article titled “Six Suggestions for Premier Wen Jiabao,” accusing Wen of causing capitalism to have too great an influence on Chinese society. Zhang also said that Wen should face up to criticism for “causing more serious traitorous crimes.”
People’s Daily, the Party’s official mouthpiece, also published a full-page article in May, saying that China cannot engage in the separation of the three powers—executive, legislative and judicial. It said that for a long time, there has been “a very small number of people advocating the political system model of the separation of the three powers, vainly attempting to change the direction of China’s political system reform, or judicial system reform, even advocating changing China’s fundamental political system.”
The Mao Issue
A typical strategy of the CCP conservatives is to praise Mao and criticize Deng. They have already settled on Bo Xilai for the top job, and Bo has become the de facto leader of the leftists and princelings. His campaign of praising Mao and ostentatiously cracking down on organized crime in Chongqing, with the rallying help of the state propaganda apparatus, has been a winning strategy for gaining popularity.
On the other hand, the reformers try to seize opportunities to criticize Mao. A video by Beijing history professor Yuan Tengfei that exposed many of Mao’s crimes was spread widely on major Chinese websites beginning in February of this year. It only attracted the attention of official censors after Maoists began a counter attack in May. The Central Propaganda Department then asked the Internet Monitoring Department of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau and the State Council Information Office (SCIO) to delete all related content. ……(more details from The Epochtimes)
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