Mao’s Faithful May Be Pulling Xi Leftward

After speculation late last year that Mao Zedong’s legacy was soon to be sidelined, fears about the direction in which “Second Generation Reds” might lead China have returned. From John Garnaut at The Age:

In the heady days of the early post-Mao years, as China began opening to the world, a youthful Xi Jinping attended a fortnightly study group with other top leaders’ children to network, enjoy friendship and make sense of the change around them.

Mr Xi, now general secretary of the Communist Party, stayed close with the group as they worked the long and sometimes treacherous path towards the apex of the party, as their fathers had before them, and came to identify as Hongerdai, or “Second Generation Red”.

[…] The Mao faithful are hoping, and liberal intellectuals and private entrepreneurs are worried, that Mr Xi will symbolically foreclose any short-term possibility of political reform by holding a big celebration of Mao’s 120th birthday at the end of this year.

“This is a big test,” said He Weifang, a lawyer who was involved in building the political case against Bo Xilai. “This is an important occasion and requires Xi to deliver a speech or make some decision.”

At Foreign Policy, Garnaut shows a 2006 photo including the reunited study group which, he writes, “illustrates their dominance over the government and the economy”:

In the middle row in a tan jacket stands businessman Hu Shiying, who runs a plethora of official and quasi-official organisations ranging from martial arts to green technology. The convenor of the close-knit study group, Hu is the son of Hu Qiaomu, Chairman Mao Zedong’s main secretary. […]

[…] Standing next to him is Xi, the son of a vice premier; then Wang Qishan, the son-in-law of a vice premier and a member of China’s top decision making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, where he’s in charge of fighting corruption. Wang stands next to Liu Xiaojiang, who as Navy Commissar is one of the most important officials in the PLA Navy; Liu is also the son of a general and the son-in-law of former Party boss Hu Yaobang.

[…] On Saturday, at the fellowship’s reunion during China’s annual Spring Festival holiday, [Hu Shiying’s sister, Hu] Muying urged her fellow princelings to get involved in “affairs of state” — and that they are, continuing the tradition of their ancestors. When the photo appeared on the website, the princelings were described as “brothers and sisters.” At a December speech commemorating Mao’s 119th birthday, Hu described his “eyes welling with tears” when singing revolutionary songs. “We are Mao’s family members,” he said.


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