Monday, August 13, 2007
China's ex-president Jiang suffers political blow
By Benjamin Kang Lim
BEIJING, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Former Chinese president Jiang
Zemin suffered a political blow when his son and security
chief were left out of the running for seats in the Communist
Party Central Committee, sources with ties to the leadership
The setback, coupled with the arrest of a former secretary to
a late vice premier and a son of Shanghai's disgraced party boss,
strengthened the hand of incumbent President Hu Jintao ahead of
the party's five-yearly 17th congress in the autumn.
Jiang Mianheng, a vice president of the Chinese Academy of
Sciences, and You Xigui, director of the party's Bodyguards
Bureau, lost in Central Committee straw votes earlier this year,
said the sources who requested anonymity.
"The elections were internal to sound out party members. The
two men were unpopular with the masses," one source told Reuters.
The pair were not among 2,217 delegates to the 17th congress,
and therefore cannot run for seats in the elite Central
Committee, which has 198 full and 158 alternate members.
You is currently an alternate member. The Bodyguards Bureau
provides incumbent and retired leaders with security personnel
and is one of the country's most politically sensitive jobs.
The bad news for Jiang Zemin was good news for Hu, who has
yet to fully consolidate power and shake off his predecessor's
"It's a sign You Xigui cannot stand for election to the
Central Committee and is unlikely to stay on as director of the
Bodyguards Bureau after the 17th congress," said Zhang Zuhua, a
former party insider.
Jiang had used his residual influence earlier this year to
force Hu to keep You on as chief bodyguard. At 68, You is past
the compulsory retirement age of 65 for a three-star general.
Analysts said the political jockeying was unlikely to worsen
into a showdown, as the world's fourth-largest economy attempts a
delicate soft landing from dizzying economic growth.
Hu, 64, replaced Jiang, 81, as party boss in 2002, state
president in 2003 and military chief in 2004, completing the
country's first smooth generational leadership change since the
1949 Communist revolution.
In another sign Hu has grown in strength, Wang Weigong, a
former secretary to late Vice Premier Huang Ju, was investigated
for serious breaches of discipline. Huang, who ranked sixth in
the party hierarchy, died in June.
The probe appeared to be an extension of a corruption inquiry
that has toppled Chen Liangyu as party boss of Shanghai --
Jiang's political bailiwick.
Chen, the first Politburo member to be purged in 12 years,
and a dozen officials and businessmen have been accused of
misusing the city's pension funds.
In an indication of the limits to Hu's power, it took him 11
months to expel Chen from the party, compared with four months
Jiang took to purge his main political rival in 1995.
Huang and Chen belonged to a network of Shanghai officials
who owe their rise to Jiang, who was the mayor and later party
boss of the city in the 1980s. They were widely reputed to be at
odds with Hu over policy and influence.
The Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan weekly magazine said
Chen's son, Chen Weili, was arrested in Malaysia and repatriated
-- a blow to Jiang and his men.
My name is Wang Xuanhua