By Tenzin Lekshay
With the 18th Party Congress approaching, China’s top brass Communist leaders are waging a constant war within to stabilize their political will into the next politburo. Such practice of snuffing out a political opponent among the leaders were not uncommon in Chinese Communist history. Deng Xiaoping, Zhao Ziyang, Hu Yobang were the classic examples. Even Xi Jiping’s own father was not spared from this horrendous circle of power concentration. Now, with the upcoming change in the Chinese leadership, Bo Xilai, a probable candidate for the next politburo, the highest decision making power of PRC, is the latest victim. Whether Bo’s model of Chongqing was suitable for China or not, it is separately a different case, but the humiliating exit of Bo Xilai clearly shows that Chinese Communist Party still lingers in the shoes of the old orthodox doctrines.
In the formative stage of Chinese Communist Regime, the power struggle did not seem to have much implications as Mao Tsetung, the so called ’great helmsman” was the ultimate voice of the party and China as well. With his single command, China witnessed the horrific chapters of Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution in a row, resulting in catastrophic and unfathomable disasters in the history of China. It was during that time, Deng Xiaoping, a capitalist roader was put into house arrest.
After the demise of Mao in 1976, his handpicked successor Hua Goufeng’s political platform was short lived and Deng Xiaoping took over PRC’s leadership. Deng Xiaoping, the second generation leader started opening China’s window to the west. However, with his own experiences of China’s power struggle, he successfully commanded his approval of young Hu Jintao to the highest position, leaving Jiang Zemin in puzzle. During Deng’s time, Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yobang were the promising leaders, who were considered liberals in their political leanings. During the 1989 Tiananmen uprising, Zhao Ziyang lost his political career by standing with the people demanding political reforms in China. Despite Deng Xiaoping being a liberal, his theory of liberalization concentrated only on economic reforms, rather than the political. He carefully picked up Hu Jintao, known as the butcher of Tibet, for his role in mercilessly crushing Tibetan demonstrations in the late 1980s.
Jiang Zemin’s transfer of political succession to Hu Jintao went smoothly on the surface but he relinquished his military authority three years after, with the fear that power struggle among the Chinese leaders would cost him dearly. However, Jiang was clever enough to put his men in the politburo Standing Committee, which would save him from future humiliation. In order to maintain his stronghold, Jiang introduced ‘Three Represents’, that manifested changing China to give more leverages to the rich capitalist roaders. But still the political spectrum of China remained unchanged.
Hu Jintao’s rise of power in the initial stage showed some interesting bits of the existing power struggle, which remained relevant to the hierarchy of Chinese politics. With more dominating roles of Hu Jintao, China’s Youth League became prominent among the party men to step into the ladder of political leadership. Such appearances in the political chamber of China’s Communist Party has created further factionalism within the Party, which will ultimately become an impediment for the sustainability of PRC.
Over the years, factionalism has grown unprecedentedly in China, where the Communist Party members are somehow informally affiliated or divided among separated groups. Some people assert that PRC runs on ”One Party, Two system”, which means that China is rooted into a deep layer of segregation within the members. Shanghai Clique, a group associated with Jiang Zemin, comprise of party leaders from well-off areas of southern China, prosperous due to the special economic zones. On the other hand, China Youth League has gained huge momentum in China under the tenure of Hu Jintao. At this present juncture, millions of young communist party members are affiliated with China Youth League, with an aim of attaining higher and better positions in the party. However, it is absolutely hard to predict, whether China Youth League will remain prominent after Hu Jintao transfers his power to Xi Jiping. History has a different story, as when Jiang Zemin was in power, every nook and corner of China talked about ‘the Three Represents’, but now it has switched over to “Harmonious Society’ of Hu Jintao, leaving Jiang’s ideology in limbo. With the change in leadership, the group affiliated to the top leaders will also switch over their allegiances.
However, it seems that factionalism in Chinese power politics has given birth to a new intriguing episode of further weakening of the Communist regime. More factions within the party are visible enough to understand where Communist Party of China will lead in the future. New ’princeling’ factions, including Xi Jiping and the ousted Bo Xilai, have significantly enchanted the Communist party. However, in order to check and balance the Politburo Standing committee of the fifth generation leaders, the present leaders had recently toppled Bo Xilai. This well-designed scheme of the present leaders to curtail the influence of princelings in the future power politics are indications that China’s factionalism will spell the doom of Communist regime.
PRC, since its birth in 1949, had experienced many changes, which in many cases are pendulum in nature. China witnesses huge U-turn shift in her domestic politics, i.e., from socialism to capitalism, from proletariat to bourgeois, commune system to privatization. On top of that, many social, economic and environmental problems become a major irritant for the country.
The simple fact is that if the party stands united, their idea of so called ‘stability and unity’ will prosper. But such increasing power struggles and growth of factionalism within the Communist party will eventually lead to the downfall of PRC, as self-appointed billionaire Communist Party leaders of Chinese people are mastering their own selfish interests of dominance and power. It is time for PRC’s leaders to prepare for their graveyards.
The writer works at Kashag Secretariat, Central Tibetan Administration.
(The views expressed here are that of the author and shall not be regarded as views and policies of Central Tibetan Administration.)
1) Hu Jintao Draws Blood with the Wang Lijun Scandal by Willy Lam