Saturday, October 13, 2007

Alright, the end-game is indeed near. Ben Lim of Reuters' latest words from Beijing:
Zeng retires.
Xi and Li get promoted
Zhou Yongkang and He Guoqiang get promoted
Wu Bangguo, Li Changchun, and Jia Qinglin stay. Jia Qinglin!!! Come'on Hu, you have enough dirt on him, don't you?

The end(game) is near?

China to retire powerful VP, usher in new generation

By Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING, Oct 13 (Reuters) - The man waiting in the wings to
take over should Chinese President Hu Jintao falter is set to
retire at a Communist Party meeting next week, while two younger
regional leaders will rise as potential next-generation leaders.

The imminent retirement of Vice President Zeng Qinghong
presents a boon to Hu, who is seeking to consolidate his power at
the five-yearly Congress, the Party's 17th since its founding in
1921 and the most important political event in China this year.

Zeng is expected to give up his seat in the top echelon of
power, the Party's Politburo Standing Committee, at the week-long
Congress opening on Monday, three independent sources with ties
to the leadership said, requesting anonymity.

A stronger grip on power could allow Hu to speed up his drive
to balance breakneck but uneven economic growth, improve the
lives of poor farmers, build a social safety net, halt rampant
environmental degradation and promote "fair and just" policies.

Hu has trumpeted his policy of "scientific development" to
try to correct China's path from that set by the previous
administration of Jiang Zemin, which featured rapid growth at the
expense of the environment.

The sources also said that two provincial leaders in their
early 50s -- Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang -- are near certain to
emerge as successors-in-waiting to Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao.

The final line-up will be made public at a one-day
post-Congress meeting of the new elite Central Committee.

Zeng, who is ranked fifth in the Party hierarchy but punches
above his political weight, had offered to step down because of
age limits, the sources said. He is 68.

He would also step down as president of the Central Party
School, which trains up-and-coming cadres, and from the
Secretariat, which handles day-to-day Party affairs, the sources
said. He would relinquish the state vice presidency at the annual
session of parliament next March.

But Zeng, a top ally of Hu's immediate predecessor Jiang,
would continue to wield some influence through two of his men who
are tipped to join the Standing Committee, they said.

The two are the country's top cop, Zhou Yongkang, and He
Guoqiang, head of the Party's organisation department which is in
charge of personnel changes, according to a new leadership
line-up approved by the Party at a pre-Congress meeting.


"Speculation by the outside world about the rivalry between
Hu and the 'Shanghai Gang' is exaggerated," one source told
Reuters, referring to Jiang's faction, of which Zeng is

At a recent meeting with a source who spoke to Reuters, Zeng
was quoted as saying the party had "treated me well".

Xi, 54, will soon step down as Party boss of Shanghai after
just six months in the job and take over Zeng's portfolio
overseeing Party affairs, said the sources, who were briefed
about the new line-up.

But Xi is not necessarily Hu's heir.

Li, 52, who will soon resign as Party boss of the
northeastern province of Liaoning, is still Hu's preferred
candidate, the sources said.

Both Xi and Li would be promoted to the nine-seat Standing
Committee during the Congress, giving them "an opportunity to
compete fairly", a second source said.

Hu is the first among equals in the Standing Committee, but
does not have the revolutionary credentials of Mao Zedong and
Deng Xiaoping and cannot unilaterally decide his successor.

Hu needs to accommodate the Jiang camp and other interest
groups in the Party, including the military, elders and
"princelings" -- the children of the country's political elite.

Xi is a princeling who is acceptable to both Hu and Jiang.

During the Congress, Hu will be given a second five-year
mandate as general secretary of the Party and chairman of the
Central Military Commission.

Hu and Premier Wen will retain their Standing Committee
seats, according to the line-up.

Barring last-minute changes, Jiang allies in the Standing
Committee -- parliament head Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, head of an
advisory body to parliament, and ideology tsar Li Changchun --
will also hold on to their Standing Committee seats.
((Editing by Chris Buckley and Brian Rhoads; Reuters Messaging:
benjamin.lim.reuters.com@reuters.net; +8610 6627-1212))

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