Saturday, September 30, 2006
China's Jiang blessed Shanghai corruption purge
By Chris Buckley and Benjamin Kang Lim
BEIJING, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao won the
blessing of his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, before toppling the Communist
Party chief in Shanghai, Jiang's stronghold, sources said on Thursday as
a corruption probe in the city deepened.
Beijing party sources told Reuters that Jiang, now officially
retired, was consulted before Chen Liangyu was dismissed on Sunday, a
dramatic move that flagged Hu's determination to impose loyalty in the
nation's financial hub, which has strained against his uncertain
"Jiang wasn't ambushed, he was consulted," said an official familiar
with communications on the case. "Jiang wrote a comment that Chen
Liangyu should be sternly dealt with."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity. His comments were
confirmed by a source with ties to the leadership.
Chen was involved in channelling pension funds into illegal
investments and helped enrich crony companies and relatives, the party
announced on Monday. He was the first member of the Politburo, the party
leadership council, to be sacked since 1995 when Beijing party chief
Chen Xitong was purged and jailed. The two are not related.
Until now, Shanghai's commercial boom has been steered by a local
leadership closer to Jiang than Hu.
The two men have had cool relations, with Jiang wary that Hu has
dimmed his achievements and influence as the incumbent seeks to steer
China's development away from booming eastern cities, including
Shanghai, to poor inland regions, observers say.
But Jiang, 80, appears to have decided that he can best preserve his
remaining strength by approving Chen's downfall, even as he seeks to
protect proteges on the Standing Committee, the country's ruling inner
"Jiang wanted to protect Chen Liangyu. Hu did not object but
eventually changed his mind," said a third official, also with
Jiang served as mayor and party chief of Shanghai for four years
until mid-1989, when he was elevated to national leader in the wake of
the bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests.
Many Shanghai officials who served under Jiang later moved onto the
national stage, where some have kept key positions to be able to act as
a counterweight to Hu, who took over from Jiang as party general
secretary in 2002 and state president in 2003.
"It seems there was a bargain between Jiang and Hu," Victor Shih, an
expert on Chinese politics at Northwestern University in Chicago, told
Reuters, adding that Hu wanted to make his authority unmistakable.
"With a Politburo member removed, everyone in the party knows Hu and
Wen mean business," said Shih, referring to Premier Wen Jiabao.
Jiang probably hopes to keep two Standing Committee members,
proteges Huang Ju and Jia Qinglin, in office until next year's party
congress, when Hu is likely to force Jiang-era holdovers into
retirement, Shih and other analysts said.
Shanghai officials confirmed on Thursday that Sun Luyi, director of
the Shanghai Party Committee's General Office -- the city leadership's
administrative engine -- was under investigation.
"The officials implicated in the Chen Liangyu case will not end at
this," said a mainland-controlled Hong Kong newspaper, Ta Kung Pao,
which reported Sun's case on Thursday.
Investigators have also questioned Shanghai's top policeman who is a
nephew of Jiang, and detained two relatives of the deposed Chen, sources
have told Reuters.
(Additional reporting by Jerker Hellstrom in Shanghai) ((Editing by
Brian Rhoads and Roger Crabb; Reuters Messaging: chris.buckley.
email@example.com; +86 10 6598-1261))
Keywords: CHINA CORRUPTION