Cracks in China’s Great Politburo Wall

For Asia Sentinel, Willy Lam reports on apparent tensions between President Hu Jintao and his heir apparent, Xi Jinping, following Xi’s failure to be promoted to the Central Military Commission at the Party Plenum last month:

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.

[…] 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.

October 13, 2009 11:09 AM
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Categories: Politics