A few weeks ago, the group led by former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Jiang Zemin seemed to be gaining ground in the ongoing power struggle. Jiang’s group is notoriously violent and corrupt. They actively participated in the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, and launched the persecution of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong in 1999, earning the name “Bloody Hands Faction.”
Taking advantage of the scandalous death of Ling Jihua’s son, Jiang’s group prevented Hu Jintao’s senior adviser from taking a more important political position.
They had also managed to keep Bo Xilai as a representative of the People’s Congress with immunity from criminal charges until the end of October, despite the fact that Bo’s removal had been widely expected for months.
Bo is the fallen Party chief of Chongqing, betrayed by his right hand man, former police chief and Deputy Mayor Wang Lijun. Bo’s Mao-style political campaign challenged the leadership of the CCP in Beijing for years, and he is considered by Jiang’s group as a better successor to the Communist leadership due to his active involvement in persecuting Falun Gong.
Meanwhile, domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, who is said to have conspired with Bo to overthrow the upcoming Party chief, Xi Jinping, managed to keep his job and remain one of the nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee—the small group that runs the CCP—until his retirement in November. Zhou is the CEO for the “Bloody Hands Faction” and oversaw the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
When China and Japan disputed over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, Jiang’s group seized the opportunity and orchestrated nationwide anti-Japanese demonstrations to manipulate Chinese nationalism. However, they embedded propaganda messages into the slogans of the protest that called for the revival of a Mao-style society and displayed a zealous worship of Bo. The demonstrations turned violent in some cities, and have created an international crisis as well as internal chaos for the Party’s leadership transition.
Chinese observers may be confused as to why Jiang’s group is gambling with their lives by causing interference, even after agreeing to cooperate with Hu and Xi in exchange for immunity from Bo’s crimes.
This group’s crimes have violated the most minimal requirements of humanity.
The most likely answer is that Jiang’s group knows they will not be able to escape criminal charges if the “Bloody Hands Faction” loses power. This group’s crimes have violated the most minimal requirements of humanity—the worst of their crimes has been the forced organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners for profit.
The book Bloody Harvest, written by a former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) David Kilgore and Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, estimates that between 2000 and 2005 41,500 organ transplantations were done in China for which the most likely source was detained Falun Gong practitioners. Matas has estimated that of the current 10,000 transplantations now done annually in China, 8,000 are likely done with organs taken from practitioners.
In essence, Jiang’s crusade against Falun Gong was another Great Cultural Revolution. He based his decision purely on the dogma of Leninism and Maoist thoughts. Using violence against Falun Gong would be considered totally logical according to Mao’s revolutionary theories. But killing those deemed political enemies to make huge financial gains was really Jiang’s “advancement with the times.”
In order to justify the persecution of Falun Gong and keep it going, the Party has to keep Mao’s revolutionary theory alive.
So what does all this mean for the upcoming leader, Xi Jinping?
He has to continue the political system that he and his family suffered under during the Great Cultural Revolution. He has to inherit the crimes against humanity committed by this political system, including the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. And for his troubles he will still be targeted by the notoriously violent “Bloody Hands Faction” in a brutal power struggle. They were planning to replace him with Bo anyways.
Xi and his advisers began to realize that his fate, as well as the fate of China, should not just be negotiated between Hu and Jiang. He has to be more proactive in deciding China’s future. If he did not take a stand, he might get run over.
Insider information from Beijing indicates that Xi attempted to resign from the leadership, a move that exposes the internal strife within the Party and as a result jeopardizes the Party’s stability. After making this request, he mysteriously disappeared from public for two weeks.
During this time, he met with Hu Deping, the son of the former Party Chief Hu Yaobang, who was purged by Deng Xiaoping for seeking political reform. Xi told Hu that he wanted more political reform in China and despised Bo’s Mao-era politics. The elder Party leadership then intervened and persuaded him to stay by promising him the power to decide the Party’s future.
In the Party Congress’s official press release, Marxist, Leninist, and Maoist thoughts were no longer included as part of the Party’s guiding principles.
As Xi reappeared with renewed spirit, the Party announced that Bo would be expelled from the Party and face criminal charges. The People’s Congress met again specifically to remove Bo from the Congress. Bo has now been formally charged and jailed while waiting for an open trial.
Furthermore, senior military officers who sympathized with Bo who had hoped for promotions to the Central Military Committee were denied their promotions.
One other thing to be noted is that in the Party Congress’s official press release, Marxist, Leninist, and Maoist thoughts were no longer included as part of the Party’s guiding principles. In the past two weeks, multiple articles and editorials from the mouthpieces of the Party have advocated political reform, and warned that if China does not reform politically, the Party would soon lose control over the nation.
No one knows how far Xi can go with his version of political reform, and how much time he has left the before Chinese people have had enough of the Party altogether. This is reform under compulsion.
Whether a reform that involves the CCP renouncing communism is possible remains to be seen. Xi’s key test in enacting political reform will be ending the persecution of Falun Gong and the forced, live organ harvesting.
Michael Young, a Chinese-American writer based in Washington, D.C., writes on China and the Sino-U.S. relationship.
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