One Party, Two Coalitions
Although CCP leaders have been trying to present themselves as a unified entity, the behind-the-scenes power struggle appears to be heating up as the leadership transition draws near. CNN’s Alexis Lai analyzes the split between Hu Jintao’s populist faction and Jiang Zemin’s princeling faction:
The Chinese Communist Party is broadly divided between informal “elitist” and “populist” coalitions, according to China expert and Brookings Institution analyst Cheng Li. Other analysts conceive of the split in different terms, such as between liberal-minded reformist and conservative hard-liner camps.
[...] Hu’s heir apparent, Xi, is a princeling, whereas Wen’s likely successor, Li Keqiang, represents the tuanpai.
[...] Their factional inclinations are reflected in their policy priorities, says Li of the Brookings Institution. Xi is focused on the private sector, market liberation in foreign investment, and Shanghai’s role as a financial and shipping center. In contrast, Li Keqiang emphasizes affordable housing, basic health care and clean energy.
This equilibrium extends within the upper echelons of the leadership, which is about evenly split between the elitists and populists, according to Li. Most analysts concur that the era of charismatic, paramount leaders ended after Deng Xiaoping, replaced by relatively colorless technocrats who governed through collective leadership.
Earlier, President Hu Jintao’s key powerbroker, Ling Jihua, was removed as head of the party’s General Office after being implicated in a cover-up of his son’s death in a high-speed Ferrari accident.
[...] ”It is a state of extreme chaos,” said political watcher Li Weidong. ”There is no absolute authority, otherwise two sides won’t bite each other like this.”
[...] Mr Hu appears to have won crucial appointments in the People’s Liberation Army, particularly the new Chief of the General Staff, Fang Fenghui, as first reported by the Age last Tuesday.
This would suggest Mr Hu is gaining strength in the military while losing it at party central.
See more on the 18th Party Congress via CDT.