Battle for Shanghai Takes Centre Stage in Hu’s Strategy

The Sydney Morning Herald looks at a possible shift in dynamics in China’s elite politics:

In the closet warfare of Chinese elite politics, Shanghai has been the political bastion of Hu Jintao’s predecessor and nemesis, Jiang Zemin. Hu’s arrival in Shanghai was seen to offer proof that he is getting the upper hand in his war of attrition against Jiang’s “Shanghai Gang”.

To over-simplify, Hu’s key protégés are associated with the China Youth League and a more liberal, egalitarian and intellectual outlook, while Jiang’s protégés are more closely linked with the security, propaganda and military apparatus as well as strategic state owned companies, particularly oil. More importantly, when China’s elite are divided they tend to make doubly sure the rest of the country is locked down.

If Hu’s apparent confidence is well-placed, it explains some other signs that suggest the recent political freeze may not be forever. First is the re-emergence of the super-educated and one-time student leader, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang.


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