Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A reporter friend of mine asked me what the deal was with the party making such a big deal of Chen Yun's 100th birthday. For those of you unfamiliar with Chen Yun, he was the other CCP elder besides Deng Xiaoping throughout the 80s and the early 90s. Chen Yun was essentially in charge of the State Council for much of the 80s and clashed with Deng over some economic policies, especially monetary policies. I provide my interpretation below:

This looks like a campaign to consolidate the center's power. Chen is the symbol of party unity and centralization while Deng is the symbol of liberalization and decentralization. Also, Chen has always had close ties with Shanghai, since he himself is a Jiangsu native. Nonetheless, he did not lobby for preferential treatment for Shanghai and always asked Shanghai officials to serve the center's needs. This could be a sign of the new leadership's dissatisfaction with Shanghai. Besides Shanghai and Xinjiang, all of the other provinces have had major reshuffling of leadership in the past few years. Shanghai remains the only "independent kingdom" with an unbroken chain of successors outside of a minority area. I am waiting for a corruption case to break in Shanghai that will topple the entire Shanghai government. There is a lot of talk of Chen Liangyu being investigated, but thus far that is going no where. I would keep my eyes open about what happens in Shanghai.

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