Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jiang Uses Politics as Balancing Act New Chinese Leader Enhances His Control

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jiang Uses Politics as Balancing Act New Chinese Leader Enhances His Control

Article excerpt

Deng Xiaoping, trembling from the Parkinson's disease that would ultimately kill him, made a gutsy appearance five years ago to show support for Jiang Zemin, titular head of the party.

This time, Jiang took the political spotlight alone. Smiling and radiating confidence, he presented his new leadership team to the media and the world Friday. With that, China entered the Jiang era.

At last week's Communist Party congress, Jiang handled the party conclaves and their backroom bargaining deftly, much as he has every political test since Deng's death in February. Jiang's maneuverings bore the hallmarks of his centrist campaign to the top. He staked out a reformist agenda, backing capitalist medicine for ailing state industries. He assured conservatives that tight control on the media and one-party rule would remain. He endorsed the army's ambitious modernization drive. Jiang can be expected to continue to rule by consensus. Unlike his predecessors, Deng and Mao Tse-tung, Jiang is no towering figure able to ignore opposition. For him, politics is a balancing act. The seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, the true source of power in China, reflects powerful interest groups in the party, not his personal choices. Although Jiang ousted a potent rival, Qiao Shi, a standing committee member for 10 years and head of the legislature, Jiang had to accept a Qiao ally, the party's internal discipline chief Wei Jianxing. They represent powers keen on bringing the rule of law to a system driven by personalities. Li Lanqing, a vice premier and former foreign trade minister, has a reputation for being a solid reformer, more progressive than Jiang. The two are said to be on good terms. They worked together at China's mammoth No. 1 Auto Works in Changchun in the 1950s. Despite his successes, Jiang was blocked from replacing the entire leadership with his own appointees, many from Shanghai, where he was mayor and party chief. …

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