Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This is the latest on the Chen LIangyu case from the NYT. The piece claims that Zeng Qinghong, former vice secretary of Shanghai and Jiang's long-time right-hand man, was responsible for launching the Chen Liangyu investigation. If this is true, it would be the height of Machiavellian politics in China. Zeng Qinghong had handpicked Chen Liangyu for senior positions in the Shanghai government after Chen had served a stint with Zeng at the Shanghai Veteran Cadre Bureau.

I guess this kind of makes sense since Zeng still has plenty of connections in the PLA and in the internal security apparatus through the princeling network. He didn't lose his entire powerbase by betraying the Shanghai Gang. Meanwhile, he can earn major credit with Hu Jintao because Shanghai had long been a thorn on Hu's side, as well as Wen's. Well, we will see whether this claim is true at the 17th Party Congress. If Zeng is indeed behind the crackdown on Shanghai, he will ask for something substantial at the 17th Party Congress, either another term for him at the Standing Committee or the CMC, or both ideally. At the very minimum, he will demand that Zhou Yongkang be promoted to the Standing Committee and replace Luo Gan as the head of the Law and Politics Committee. If I am Hu, I would be very careful about what I give Zeng, and if I am one of Zeng's followers, I would start finding another master.

"In Graft Inquiry, Chinese See a Shake-Up Coming"
By Joseph Kahn, NYT, October 4, 2006

BEIJING, Oct. 3 - When Shanghai's party boss was detained in an
anticorruption probe last week, Chinese were rattled by news of the first
purge of a high-ranking Communist Party leader since 1995. But the
investigation's scope and its ultimate goals are wider, as the party's two
most powerful officials aim to shake up the leadership and wipe out
resistance to their policy agenda, party officials and analysts say.

The investigation, the largest of its kind since China first pursued
market-style changes to its economy more than a quarter-century ago, was
planned and supervised by Zeng Qinghong, China's vice president and the
day-to-day manager of Communist Party affairs, people informed about the
operation said.

They said Mr. Zeng had used the investigation to force provincial leaders
to heed Beijing's economic directives, sideline officials loyal to the
former top leader, Jiang Zemin, and strengthen Mr. Zeng's own hand as well
as that of his current master, President Hu Jintao.

Aside from frightening officials who have grown accustomed to increasingly
conspicuous corruption in recent years, the crackdown could give Mr. Hu
greater leeway to carry out his agenda for broader welfare benefits and
stronger pollution controls, which may prove popular in China today.

Some critics fear that it may also consolidate greater power in the hands
of a leader who has consistently sought to restrict the news media, censor
the Web and punish peaceful political dissent.

The high-level purge began on Sept. 25, when Chen Liangyu, the Shanghai
party leader and a Politburo member, was removed from his office on
corruption charges. Party security forces had already detained
high-ranking officials in Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Fujian and Hunan.
Mr. Chen is the most powerful person removed from office since 1995, when
the Beijing party leader was purged, also on corruption charges, during a
power struggle.

Several party officials and well-informed political observers said they
believed that the investigation had not yet reached its climax. They say
Mr. Zeng hopes to dismiss two fellow members of the Politburo Standing
Committee, Jia Qinglin and Huang Ju, who are under pressure to take
"political responsibility" for corruption that has occurred in Beijing and
Shanghai, their respective areas of influence.

If he succeeds in removing officials who serve on the nine-member Standing
Committee, the party's top leadership, the purge will amount to the
biggest political shake-up since 1989, when Deng Xiaoping ousted Zhao
Ziyang, then the party's general secretary, after the crackdown on
democracy protests in Beijing.

It would also be likely to seal Mr. Zeng's reputation as China's political
mastermind, who mixes personal ambition with a nearly legendary ability to
deliver results for his superiors. Officially ranked No. 5 in the party
hierarchy, he is widely seen as exercising more authority within the party
than anyone except Mr. Hu.

Chinese politicking takes place under a heavy veil of secrecy, and
speculation about what happens in Zhongnanhai, the Chinese leadership
compound, has been intense since Mr. Chen's detention last week.

It is rarely possible to get authoritative confirmation of political
maneuvers in China. The people who discussed the situation with a foreign
reporter did so on condition of anonymity, citing fears of retribution.

The course of the anticorruption campaign may shift if central leaders
face a strong backlash at the party's s annual Central Committee meeting,
which will be held Oct. 8-11. One well-placed political observer said he
doubted that Mr. Huang or Mr. Jia would be forced from office before their
expected retirement next year.

Even so, the weakened position of the two men and their patron, Mr. Jiang,
whom Mr. Hu and Mr. Zeng pushed from his last post in 2004, could have a
significant impact on Chinese policy and leadership decisions.

Mr. Jiang's old loyalists, often referred to as the Shanghai faction,
tended to favor fast economic growth, a relatively high degree of
provincial autonomy in economic affairs, loose controls on investment and
bank lending and close ties between the party and the country's rising
class of private businessmen.

Mr. Hu, 63, and Mr. Zeng, 67, have at least for now forged an alliance
that dominates party leadership, party officials say. They advocate slower
and more stable growth, greater attention to social inequality and
pollution, and an expansion of state support for education, medical care
and social security.

Most of the officials singled out so far in the anticorruption sweep are
seen as closer to Mr. Jiang and as having ignored central directives to
tamp down state-led investment. That, party officials say, shows that the
continuing legal investigation serves as a cover for a political campaign
to change the party's policy direction.

Mr. Zeng plans to use the Central Committee meeting to elevate Mr. Hu's
political slogan, "harmonious society," into an official "theory."

The catch phrase covers a range of policies intended to restore a balance
between the country's thriving market economy and its neglected socialist
ideology, primarily by paying greater attention to peasants and migrant
workers who have benefited much less than the white-collar elite in China's
long economic boom.

At the meeting, party leaders will discuss "the theory of building a
harmonious socialist society," party officials said. In effect, Mr. Zeng
is promoting Mr. Hu's concept into doctrine, to be taught alongside the
theories of Mao, Deng and Mr. Jiang.

People informed about Mr. Zeng's planning described that step and others
as part of a carefully calculated series of political moves that began
last spring.

They said Mr. Zeng had instructed the inspectors responsible for enforcing
party discipline to investigate activities in the political strongholds of
Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, where he suspected that senior party
officials were allowing rampant profiteering by relatives and friends, and
where the leaders owed their positions mainly to Mr. Jiang.

Those urban enclaves, whose leaders enjoy considerable autonomy, had also
defied repeated efforts by Mr. Hu and Wen Jiabao, the prime minister, to
rein in bank lending in overheated sectors like real estate.

Anticipating that Mr. Jiang might seek to protect his allies, Mr. Zeng
first moved to mollify him by rolling out a tribute: the publication of
his collected works. Party units nationwide were instructed to purchase
and study the three-volume collection of speeches and essays, a financial
and political windfall.

The crackdown initially focused on lower-level officials in the big
cities. When investigators gathered evidence to implicate Mr. Chen, the
Shanghai party boss, Mr. Zeng summoned him to Beijing, presented him with
the pending indictment and pressed him to resign, these people said. He
was said to have refused.

Faced with the prospect of a hostile purge, the first of its kind
affecting a Politburo member since 1995, Mr. Zeng and Mr. Hu sent Mr.
Chen's file to Mr. Jiang, asking for his advice, a person close to Mr.
Zeng's office said.

Confronted with evidence of high-level corruption in Shanghai, Mr. Jiang
approved removing Mr. Chen, the people said.

Armed with that victory, Mr. Zeng has pushed to create a new standard of
"political responsibility," modeled after a code seen by him to prevail in
American politics, which holds senior leaders responsible if their
underlings disgrace the party, people informed about his thinking said.

That new standard could be used against Mr. Huang, a former Shanghai party
boss and a Jiang loyalist, and Mr. Jia, who supervised Beijing.

"The old standard for senior party members was legal guilt," said one
person who spoke about Mr. Zeng's thinking." "Under the new standard you
could lose your post for mismanagement even if they can't prove you put
one cent in your own pocket."

Others raised doubts that the purge would reach people that high up the
hierarchy. The ruling party risks undermining its own authority if it
acknowledges that corruption extends into the most elite ruling circle,
they said.

More generally, Mr. Zeng's prominent role has raised questions about his
influence relative to Mr. Hu's, party officials said.

Mr. Hu holds the posts of party general secretary, head of the military
and president of China, the country's three most important. Mr. Zeng,
though he runs the party's main coordinating office, is outranked in its
official hierarchy not only by Mr. Hu but also by three other Standing
Committee members.

Moreover, until Mr. Hu and Mr. Zeng unexpectedly joined forces in 2004 to
push Mr. Jiang into full retirement, Mr. Zeng was seen as close to Mr.
Jiang. The two worked side by side since they served in Shanghai together
in the 1980's.

But Mr. Zeng's campaign to remove some Jiang loyalists may end up
strengthening his own hand as well as Mr. Hu's, some some party officials
suggested. The reason is that Mr. Zeng has become the standard-bearer for
a wide array of political interests.

The son of one of Mao's first security chiefs, Mr. Zeng maintains close
ties to the sons and daughters of Communist China's founding fathers and
has relatives in the military. He has supporters among those who favor
deeper capitalist-style changes to the economy and financial system.

Some Chinese intellectuals say he has signaled an openness to political
change. Mr. Hu, in contrast, is viewed as cautious and doctrinaire.

Mr. Hu has sought to promote officials he trusts from his days as a
provincial official in western China and as the head of the national
Communist Youth League in the 1980's. Though he now has broad authority,
his traditional base is considered narrower and less influential than that
of Mr. Zeng.

The political dance between the men underlines uncertainties about the
political succession scheduled to take place in 2007. At that time the
party will hold a congress, as it does every five years, to approve a new
lineup of officials for the Politburo as well as other top party,
government and provincial positions.

Party officials say that while Mr. Hu and Mr. Zeng have worked together to
consolidate their own power, they have not agreed on choices for the
Standing Committee or some top provincial posts. That suggests that their
alliance possibly temporary and that the country's politics could remain

"I think that at this point neither of them has the power to dictate the
future," one party official said. "They need each other, but that does
not mean they trust each other."

Copyright 2006 The New York Time

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