Monday, September 13, 2004
FT (thanks Dean Kuo for the correction)
China's Hu Jintao tightens his grip on powerBy James Kynge in BeijingPublished:
September 12 2004 22:12 Last updated: September 12 2004 22:12
Nearly two years after he attained the top position in China's rulingCommunist party, President Hu Jintao has consolidated his power through acombination of manoeuvring and compromise with his predecessor and rivalJiang Zemin, several people within the party said.The shift of influence from Mr Jiang, who remains head of the armed forces,to Mr Hu has been gradual.But as party leaders prepare for a plenum this week, it is clear that MrHu's policies and vision are prevailing over those associated with Mr Jiang,party insiders said.The rivalry between Mr Hu and Mr Jiang has been one of attrition rather thandirect confrontation. Although it has influenced decisions, notably in theformulation of Beijing's tough policies towards Hong Kong, it has notescalated into a power struggle, several official sources and Chineseacademics said."Hu is now stronger than Jiang. Even officials promoted by Jiang are nowco-operating with Hu. That is the way it works. They value their future morethan their loyalty to Jiang," said one party official.The fourth plenum of the 16th Central Committee, a key meeting that beginson Thursday, will reflect both in style and content the preferences of MrHu, sources said.The meeting is to focus on "making a big effort to strengthen the governingpower of the Communist party," according to Xinhua, the official newsagency.This would mean trying to reverse the party's waning respect andeffectiveness among its people by combating widespread official corruptionand introducing fairer and more transparent systems to select and promoteparty functionaries, officials and academics said.These aims represent Mr Hu's central vision. That the party has broken withtradition and announced the subject of the plenum before it has even startedis also consistent with an emphasis on greater transparency in top-levelparty meetings.Mr Hu has espoused such transparency since he took over as party boss inlate 2002.In its account of the plenum's agenda, Xinhua mentioned other policiesassociated with Mr Hu, including an exhortation to "govern for the sake ofthe people", a variant of Mr Hu's bedrock philosophy of "yi ren wei ben" orputting people first.Nevertheless, the plenum's agenda also shows traces of a willingness to seekcompromise and co-operation with Mr Jiang's camp.The "three represents", an arcane political philosophy credited to Mr Jiang,is described as an "important thought".Similarly, the "concept of scientific development", a phrase created byofficials promoted by Mr Jiang, is also mentioned.Mr Jiang, 78, has come under pressure to step down as head of the party'sCentral Military Commission just as his predecessor, the late Deng Xiaoping,did in 1989, two years after relinquishing his place in the rulingpolitburo.However, Mr Jiang is unlikely to follow Mr Deng's precedent at this week'splenum in spite of recent speculation in party circles that he is planningto retire.