Posted by: mulrickillion | November 7, 2011

Jockeying for Position Intensifies among Candidates for the Politburo Standing Committee


Standing Committee Hopeful Bo Xilai

By Willy Lam, China Brief, Vol. 11, Iss. 20, Oct 28, 2011 —

The just-ended plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Committee passed a resolution on “the reform of the cultural system” that is aimed at boosting China’s soft power and buttressing the country’s “cultural security.” Given that the Central Committee usually meets only once a year, all eyes are on what members of this top party organ might have discussed about the 18th Party Congress, which will witness the wholesale changing of guard. The terse plenum communiqué released by the Xinhua News Agency, however, revealed very little about what went on during the four-day conclave. It only noted the 18th Congress would be convened in the second half of 2012. “The national congress is to be held during a crucial period of the construction of a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, the deepening of reform and opening up and the transformation of the pattern of economic development,” the communiqué said. The Central Committee also called upon party cadres “to unite and lead all the Chinese people in building a moderately prosperous society in an all-around way as well as accelerating the nation’s modernization drive” (Xinhua News Agency, October 18; People’s Daily, October 19).

Despite the dearth of information, it is apparent that jockeying for position has intensified particularly among senior cadres who want to make it into the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC), the CCP’s powerful inner sanctum where seven members are expected to step down in 2012. Since the 370-odd full and alternate Central Committee members rarely meet, a plenum is a good chance for would-be PBSC members to engage in subtle campaigning. In the run-up to the Central Committee conclave, up-and-coming members of the party’s two dominant if fractious cliques—the Communist Youth League (CYL) faction under President Hu Jintao and the Gang of Princelings (a reference to the offspring of party elders)—have been actively trying to enhance their chances for promotion next year (Bloomberg, October 14; Agence France Presse, October 19).

The most visible example is Chongqing Party Secretary, Bo Xilai, who is already a Politburo member. For the past three years, Bo, 62, a charismatic princeling, has become one of China’s most high-profile politicians thanks to his populist campaign to “sing red songs and to strike at black elements,” a reference to reviving Maoist-era norms and combating organized crime (See “The CCP’s Disturbing Revival of Maoism,” China Brief, November 19, 2009). Despite the relative enthusiasm with which the chang hong (“singing red songs”) movement has been received in different cities, the Central Committee did not give its imprimatur to reviving Maoist culture. The plenum communiqué urged all Chinese to “use as motivation [the spirit of] reform and creativity” so as to create cultural products that are “geared toward modernization and focused on the world and on the future.” “We must raise the cultural standard of all the people, boost the nation’s cultural soft power, propagate Chinese culture and assiduously build up a culturally strong socialist country,” it said (China News Service, October 18;, October 18). That no reference whatsoever was made to “red culture” seems to support the thesis that the country’s two top leaders—President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao—are not fans of Bo’s chang hong persuasion. Moreover, despite the metropolis’s status as one of China’s four centrally administered cities in addition to being the business hub of western China, neither Hu nor Wen has visited Chongqing since Bo became its party boss in late 2007. . . .

The Jamestown Foundation: Jockeying for Position Intensifies among Candidates for the Politburo Standing Committee


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