Civil-Military Change in China: Elites, Institutes, and Ideas after the 16th Party Congress

By Andrew Scobell; Larry Wortzel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5

PREMIER WEN AND VICE PRESIDENT ZENG:
THE “TWO CENTERS" OF CHINA'S FOURTH GENERATION

John Tkacik

Those who thought China's politics would finally settle down into something more recognizable to Westerners with the putative ascendance of the a pro-reformist “Fourth Generation” of leaders in November 2002 must be disappointed. As China moves into the 21st century, Chinese politics continue to be bedeviled by the traditional “Struggle Between Two Lines.” In the past, the two lines were Maoists and Rightists, or the Cultural Revolution Group and the Old Party, or the Gang of Four and everyone else. Now, the struggle is between the reformist line and the Communist Party apparatchiks' line. Beijing's leadership factions are centered on China's outgoing and incoming general secretaries of the Chinese Communist Party, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.

Historically, communist China could not be governed effectively unless the paramount leader has full control of the Army. And historically, the Army has made itself subservient to the dictates of the Party. But the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now split between two rival, though not necessarily hostile, leadership factions. And both camps see the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) as the strategic pivot of their political competition.

No sooner had the new general secretary of the CCP, Hu Jintao, been named on November 15, than Jiang Zemin, the outgoing general secretary, had himself renamed to a fourth term as chairman of China's all-powerful Central Military Commission (CMC). Jiang's insistence that he remain as military commander while nominally relinquishing his political authority to the nine-member Standing Committee of Hu's Politburo was a blunt political maneuver designed to buttress the Old Man's tight but indirect grip on the Politburo with a tight and direct grip on the military.

In the Politburo, five, perhaps six, of the nine Standing Committeemen are Jiang's hand-picked cronies. In fact, in China's supreme governing body, the Politburo Standing Committee (SC),

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