Monday, May 10, 2004

After my previous posting on what is happening in Jiangsu, my friend Kunchin wrote to disagree with my assessment. I post his criticism and my response.


Forgive me, the following questions are going to sound
out of touch with elite politics, which I've been
since leaving Dittmer's sphere of influence.

1) Why do Hu and Wen want to force Jiang out of CMC? I
just don't see the immediate impetus, or a clear
cost-benefit calculus. Jiang has been a thorn on their
side, but are Hu and Wen so confident that they could
maintain political stability without Jiang's nominal

Me: You raise some really good points indeed. I think Hu and Wen do want to get Jiang out of the CMC. As long as he remains chair of CMC, the sword of Damocles will always dangle on their head. They cannot govern the way that they want to govern because Jiang still has control over the CMC. Remember, Deng, as the chair of CMC, forced Hua, Hu, and Zhao out of power. It seems ridiculous to think of Chinese politics in this way these days, but I am not convinced that these concerns don't play an important role in Hu and Wen's thinking.

It is also a good time to do this. With overheating, the center can take the opportunity to investigate in a series of irregular case. You have to admit that the special focus on Jiangnan region is a bit odd. Similarly, Jiang Zemin focused much of his policing efforts on Beijing and Guangdong.

2) I thought the major media were under Jiang/Zeng's
control - People's Daily and other presses were not
exactly pro-Hu/Wen during the SARS campaign, so why
would they be speaking on their behalf in this very
beginning of what you see as an end-game power
struggle for Jiang? Has Hu/Wen managed to capture the
media in the past year? Or are individual
reporters/editors responding to Wen's order in an
overactive (jiji) way? As for cryptic messages, aren't
most Chinese reports littered with them? It's like
reading the Book of Revelation!

Me: As for the Chinese media, it is run by Liu Yunshan, who is a Jiang loyalist. The RMRB, however, is run by two people who are long-time veterans of the propaganda system. They don't seem to be "plants" of Jiang. I think you might be right that the RMRB received orders from the Central Committee to publish these editorials. It is all speculation, and I guess we will see what, if anything, happens.

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