Factional power struggle in Beijing

Cadres are competing to out-tough each other

“So much bungling in such a short period of time—from a regime that is seen as a deliberate, strategic player—rules out mere incompetence” this blog wrote in July this year. “While an outright leadership struggle is be unlikely, it could well be that a fratricidal war of succession is raging in Beijing.”

Well, the Sydney Morning Herald’s John Garnaut reports that’s what is going on. (via The Peking Duck & The Paper Tiger)

There are some well-connected political observers in Beijing who believe that the party’s recent across-the-board political and security tightening, including a ruthless attack on the legal profession, is linked to efforts by the vice-president, Xi Jinping, to secure the leadership of the country by 2012.

They say Xi is desperately wooing the hardliners, mainly allies of former president Jiang Zemin, who control the party’s core security apparatus: internal security, propaganda and the military. Xi’s immediate goal is to lock in a promotion to be vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission this month, in time for the National Day military extravaganza on October 1. President Hu Jintao received the same promotion at the same point in his transition to the leadership in 2002.

Beyond Xi, senior party figures are manoeuvring to get themselves or their allies into the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee by the time of the next party congress in 2012. Everywhere, cadres are competing to out-tough each other.

The internal competition is more unpredictable than usual because the party no longer has any god-like revolutionary heroes to defer to. [SMH]

7 thoughts on “Factional power struggle in Beijing”

  1. I doubt if these exercises of figuring out internal CCP dynamics is relevant or useful in determining the behaviour/responses of China to external events. All of the CCP/PLA crowd are brothers-in-arms when it comes to subjugating the rest of the population to drink their “china are best” spiked kool-aid.

    PLA/CCP will always be united on external threats regardless of internal divisions — this is a fallout of their obviously paranoid view of the world. Any internal tussle will make sure that overall hold of CCP/PLA on China is not weakened. To that end, external observers should probably ignore these internal gurglings in the CCP/PLA until there are indications that CCP/PLA have seen the light with respect to empowering their own peoples and walking away from the han-focussed behaviour.

  2. A good analogy is the “raise-the-drawbridge-and-release-the-crocodiles” behaviour of the Pakistani army, which looks after its own survival with infinitely more concern and care than it does about the survival of the rest of god-forsaken civilian population in Pakistan. The CCP/PLA can be guaranteed to look after the well-being of the CCP/PLA and ignoring the rest of China if China is pushed to the wall — this will be their undoing.

  3. The response of a little girl in China to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” is very enlightening. The child replied in its innocence “to be a CCP official so that I can have lots of loot” (paraphrasing) — so the disempowered chinese locals are fully aware of the corruption of the CCP/PLA crowd, which has already taken their docile populace for granted.

  4. Alagu,

    Please keep your comments brief and to the point. Regular commenters have complained that multiple long comments deter discussion.

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