Thursday, October 15, 2009
Xi Jinping Sends Signals by Giving Merkel Books by Jiang
There are moments when my gut tells me that something is very, very wrong in China, and this is one of those moments. Apparently, during his visit to Germany, Vice President Xi Jinping held a meeting with Prime Minister Merkel where he gave Merkel two books authored by the FORMER party secretary general of the CCP Jiang Zemin. The caption of the People's Daily story on the meeting reads "Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (L) presents two books written by former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the start of their meeting in the Chancellery in Berlin, capital of Germany, Oct. 12, 2009.(Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)" You can check out the whole story by going here.
So, what is one to make of this. This is clearly a strong signal of some kind. Willy Lam, as always, presents an incisive interpretation that Xi is showing his strong disapproval of Hu's delay of his entrance into the Central Military Commission (see below). The presentation of books by Jiang also signals to Jiang his loyalty, and is basically asking Jiang to ensure his entrance into the CMC. In conjunction with Jiang's prominent presence during the anniversary, Jiang seems to be making a strong come-back in the run-up to the 18th Party Congress. The reason why this move is making me queasy is that in order to maintain his authority before the 18th Party Congress, Hu will need to do something drastic to show that he still has real power and would not stand for such humiliating displays of disloyalty from Xi. I await with rather dreadful anticipation of what will come next.
Cracks in China's Great Politburo Wall Print E-mail
Written by Willy Lam
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
ImageVice-President Xi Jinping drops strong hint at big rift with President Hu Jintao
Now we know what Vice-President Xi Jinping must have felt when he failed to make it to the Chinese Communist Party's Central Military Commission at a plenary session of the Central Committee last month. The supposed front-runner to succeed Party Chief and President Hu Jintao apparently blamed the supremo for not inducting him into the policy-setting military commission, which has been headed by Hu since 2004.
During his current trip to five European countries, Xi, 56, has departed from protocol and hardly given Hu a mention. According to long-standing diplomatic custom, a senior Chinese cadre on tour would first convey to his hosts the greetings of President Hu. Xi's failure to acknowledge and salute Hu's leadership was most obvious when he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday.
Before the official discussion began, Xi handed to Merkel the English editions of two books – on energy and on information technology – written by ex-president Jiang Zemin. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, Xi then "passed along Comrade Jiang Zemin's greetings and good wishes" to the German leader. Merkel reciprocated by asking Xi to send her greetings to Jiang. There was no reference to Hu throughout the two leaders' tete-a-tete.
This was the first time in less than two weeks that ex-president Jiang, 83, appears to have upstaged the 67-year-old Hu. During celebrations to mark the 60th birthday of the People's Republic of China on October 1, the official Chinese media gave Jiang pretty much the same prominence as Hu. For example, he appeared 20 times on CCTV's coverage of the all-important military parade. And Hu was caught a couple of times on TV assuming a humble posture next to the talkative and high-spirited Jiang. The next day, the People's Daily put two same-sized pictures of Hu and Jiang side by side on its front page.
As the highest-ranked Fifth-Generation politician in the supreme Politburo Standing Committee, Xi is slated to succeed Hu as party general secretary at the 18th CCP Congress in October 2012 – and as state president a few months later. Yet it is well-known among political circles in Beijing that Xi does not come from Hu's Communist Youth League faction. Instead, the son of former vice-premier Xi Zhongxun is the putative head of the powerful Gang of Princelings, a reference to the offspring of party elders. Moreover, it was partly due to support rendered by ex-president Jiang, himself a princeling, that Xi was virtually designated Hu's heir-apparent at the 17th Party Congress in 2007. Xi's failure to be inducted into the CMC last month, however, was a signal that he might not enjoy a cosy relationship with his boss.
Instead, Hu is believed to be pulling out all the stops to improve the political fortunes of Youth League stalwarts such as Politburo Standing Committee member and First Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, who at this stage is expected to take over the premiership from Wen Jiabao in early 2013.
Xi watchers are not surprised by his strange demeanor in Berlin. During his tour to Latin America early this year, the vice-president aroused controversy by using earthy language to attack a certain country – widely thought to be the US – for alleged interference in China's domestic affairs. While talking to diplomats and Chinese representatives in China's embassy in Mexico City, Xi intoned: "There are people who seem to have nothing to do after filling their stomachs. They like to point their fingers at China's internal affairs." The vice-president's remarks were not reported by the Chinese media.
In any event, Xi's apparent decision to openly side with Jiang – and his failure to appear deferential to Hu – is a good indication that factional rivalry and jockeying for position has begun some three years before the 18th Party Congress. At that all-important conclave, a new corps of party and state leadership will be picked as at least half of the current PSC and Politburo members are set to retire.