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Hu Jintao in 2001. How power works in China.

A frequent complaint by China watchers is that those outside the country don't understand the extent to which the nation is ruled by coalition and consensus within the halls of power. (Not to be confused with outside the halls of power, where spontaneous, public consensus building is not encouraged. To say the least.)

It seems to me that this section of a 2001 cable from the U.S. embassy in Beijing is a good example. It's taking a look at Hu Jintao and the topography of his networks not long before he became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and the nation's president. (We'll leave discussion of a subsequent section, IS HU A CLOSET REFORMER? , for another day.)

 

A MASTER NETWORKER...

--------------------- 

7.  (C) HU HAS SUCCEEDED IN ESTABLISHING A SERIES OF

RELATIONSHIP NETWORKS WHICH HAVE MADE HIM A PLAYER IN

HIS OWN RIGHT WITHIN THE PARTY'S TOP HIERARCHY.  THESE

NETWORKS INCLUDE:

 

-- THE QINGHUA CLIQUE.  HU STUDIED AT QINGHUA, CHINA'S

PREMIER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY UNIVERSITY, BETWEEN 1959

AND 1964.  QINGHUA HAS LONG TAKEN PRIDE IN DEVELOPING

STUDENTS WHO ARE BOTH TECHNICALLY EXPERT AND

IDEOLOGICALLY "RED" BY SELECTING PARTICULARLY PROMISING

STUDENTS TO BECOME UNDERGRADUATE "POLITICAL ADVISORS."

HU WAS SUCH AN ADVISOR AND, UPON GRADUATING, STAYED ON

FOR THREE MORE YEARS AS A POLITICAL INSTRUCTOR.  WELL-

INFORMED CHINESE SOURCES CONFIRMED THAT, IN THESE

POSITIONS, HU CAME TO KNOW MOST OF HIS CONTEMPORARIES AT

QINGHUA WELL, INCLUDING CURRENT MINISTER OF JUSTICE

ZHANG FUSEN, CCP UNITED FRONT WORK DEPARTMENT DEPUTY LIU

YANDONG, MINISTER OF PUBLIC SECURITY JIA CHUNWANG, AND

SHAANXI PROVINCIAL PARTY SECRETARY TIAN CHENGPING.

 

-- THE GANSU FACTION.  IN 1968, HU ESCAPED THE WORST OF

THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION BY VOLUNTEERING TO "GO DOWN" TO

GANSU PROVINCE, WHERE HE SERVED ON CONSTRUCTION TEAMS.

HU WAS PROMOTED RAPIDLY THROUGH THE RANKS UNTIL HE CAME

TO THE ATTENTION OF PARTY SECRETARY SONG PING.  HU ALSO

MET OTHER MEMBERS OF SONG PING'S "GANSU FACTION,"

INCLUDING CURRENT VICE PREMIER (AND PREMIER ZHU RONGJI'S

PROBABLE SUCCESSOR) WEN JIABAO AND MINISTER OF

SUPERVISION ZHANG XUEZHONG.  SONG PING WAS INSTRUMENTAL

IN HU'S INTRODUCTION TO HU YAOBANG AND HIS 1992

PROMOTION TO THE POLITBURO'S STANDING COMMITTEE.

 

-- THE COMMUNIST YOUTH LEAGUE (CYL).  THE CYL IS LIKE A

MINIATURE COMMUNIST PARTY WITH A NATIONAL STRUCTURE THAT

MIMICS THE CCP'S OWN ORGANIZATION.  IT HAS BEEN A

SPRINGBOARD TO PROMOTION FOR LEADERS, SUCH AS HU

YAOBANG, WHO SUBSEQUENTLY ROSE TO SENIOR POSITIONS.

HU'S CONTACTS FROM HIS YEARS AS CYL PRINCIPAL DEPUTY

(1982-1984) AND FIRST SECRETARY (1984-1985) INCLUDED:

HENAN GOVERNOR (AND ONE OF HU'S CLOSEST PERSONAL

FRIENDS) LI KEQIANG, FUJIAN PROVINCIAL PARTY SECRETARY

(AND ANOTHER CLOSE FRIEND) SONG DEFU, MINISTER OF PUBLIC

SECURITY JIA CHUNWANG, STATE COUNCIL NATIONALITIES

AFFAIRS' COMMISSION CHAIRMAN LI DEZHU, AND XINJIANG

PARTY SECRETARY WANG LEQUAN.  HU YAOBANG, WHO WAS

GENERAL SECRETARY WHILE HU WAS AT THE CYL, SUBSEQUENTLY

INTRODUCED HU TO QIAO SHI.  QIAO, IN TURN, LIKE SONG

PING, WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN GIVING HU'S CAREER A NUMBER OF

BOOSTS.

 

8.  (C) SUCH NETWORKS ARE NOT UNUSUAL IN RELATIONSHIP-

ORIENTED CHINA AND, INDEED, MOST PARTY MEMBERS NEED

THESE NETWORKS FOR POLITICAL SURVIVAL AND ADVANCEMENT.

WHAT IS UNUSUAL, HOWEVER, IS THE BREADTH AND VARIETY OF

HU'S BACKING.  HIS MULTIPLE NETWORKS, IN TURN, HAVE

ALLOWED HIM TO CAPITALIZE ON HIS STATUS AS THE HEIR

APPOINTED BY DENG AND HIS SKILLS AS A CONSENSUS-BUILDER,

AND TO AVOID LINKING HIS FATE TOO CLOSELY TO ANY ONE

FACTION WITHIN THE THIRD GENERATION.  HU'S GENERAL

ABILITY TO AVOID DISABLING ENTANGLEMENTS HAS, ACCORDING

TO AT LEAST ONE WELL-INFORMED SOURCE, ENHANCED THE VICE

PRESIDENT'S REPUTATION AS A CONSENSUS-BUILDER AND

STRENGTHENED HIS SUPPORT AMONG DIVERSE FACTIONS WITHIN

THE PARTY.  IT WAS THIS STRENGTH, ACCORDING TO THIS

SOURCE, THAT ALLOWED HU TO BLUNT JIANG'S EFFORTS DURING

THE 2000 CENTRAL COMMITTEE PLENUM TO WIN ZENG QINGHONG'S

PROMOTION TO THE POLITBURO.

 

9.  (C) NONETHELESS, HU'S RECORD IN GAINING THE SUPPORT

OF IMPORTANT FACTIONS IS NOT PERFECT.  A PARTY

PRINCELING GROUP HEADED BY HE GUANGWEI REPORTEDLY

ENGINEERED HU'S SUMMARY DEPARTURE FROM THE CYL IN 1985

AND HIS APPOINTMENT AS PARTY SECRETARY OF POVERTY-

STRICKEN GUIZHOU PROVINCE.  CONTACTS ATTRIBUTED THIS

INCIDENT BOTH TO JEALOUSY OF HU AND TO THE FACTIONAL

INFIGHTING THAT EVENTUALLY LED TO HU YAOBANG'S DEMISE.

WHILE NONE OF THESE INDIVIDUALS HAVE SINCE RISEN ABOVE

THE VICE-MINISTER LEVEL, IT IS UNCLEAR TO WHAT DEGREE

THE AFTERMATH OF THIS INCIDENT COULD AFFECT HU'S FUTURE

RELATIONS WITH OTHER PARTY PRINCELINGS. 

 

(Although unredacted versions of the WikiLeaks cables have been now been made publicly available, I'm not sure what I think about posting them. But they ARE on the web, so if you want to see this one in its full form, you can click here.)

 

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Comments

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That time as long as I like, I want, my father would bring me back, when the father is the all-powerful in my eyes.

ibsteve2u

lolll...be an interesting exercise, to lay out the Communist Party power structure in tree form, and then apply that tree to our wealthy conservatives on down through their flunkies in the GOP, the Republican Party, the Tea Party, the Libertarians, etc.

Just to see how close the correspondence is...

I would expect a high degree of conformity given that the style (autocratic and arbitrary with all decisions biased to further increase the power/wealth of the select few and keep the many subjugated) and the intent (maintaining power) behind their respective ways of governing are virtually identical.

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