Xi Jinping, the presumed next head of the CCP, tried to withdraw from assuming leadership of the Party, but was convinced to stay on by Party elders, who feared the warring factions could not agree on anyone else but him. This article explores why he did this. This is Part 1 of the series; you can read Part 2 HERE.
A 13-year power struggle at the top of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has come to a head, and the leaders of the CCP have now arrived at a moment of decision.
The sense of expectation is widespread. As the Wang Lijun-Bo Xilai affair has played out, with one revelation after another laid bare before the Chinese people, they have started to awaken and now seek to know the truth that lies behind events.
The Study Times, the publication of the CCP’s Party School—the place leaders of the Party are trained, wrote in an article on July 2 that China is facing “major changes never seen in the past three thousand years.”
At this moment, all eyes are looking to the trial of Bo Xilai to see how he will be punished. The situation is intricate. Relying on sources familiar with discussions at the highest levels of the Party, The Epoch Times reports this developing story.
Bo Xilai was the Party head of the province-level city of Chongqing in central-western China and a leader of the left-wing in the Party. Wang Lijun was Bo’s deputy mayor, police chief, and henchman. When Wang informed Bo of the guilt of Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, in the murder of the British businessman Neil Heywood, Bo demoted Wang and rounded up those close to the police chief, killing a few of them.
Fearing for his life, Wang fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6. His attempted defection exposed to the Chinese people the struggles going on at the top of the CCP’s leadership.
Punishment for Bo soon followed. On March 15 he was removed from his Party posts and then subjected to the abusive Party interrogation called shuanggui. After months of suspense and conflicting signals, on Sept. 28 the state-run media reported Bo would be stripped of his Party membership and tried in a criminal court for “serious discipline violations” relating to corruption and sexual improprieties.
The publicly announced charges are a gambit by a divided leadership still not ready to settle things. The top Party leaders know what Wang revealed after Chengdu: Bo, along with domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang, had planned a coup to grab power from presumptive next head of the Party Xi Jinping. The Party leaders also know that Bo is a key figure behind a mass atrocity: the forced, live organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.
The fate of Bo is the crux of the long-running struggle between the current Party chief Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Xi Jinping and their supporters on the one hand and the faction formed by former CCP head Jiang Zemin on the other. That battle now involves all current high-level CCP officials and retired statesman.
Jiang Zemin’s decision to persecute the spiritual practice of Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is the core issue that has led to today’s Party struggle.
Falun Gong was first publicly taught in northeastern China in May 1992. The practice involves doing slow-motion, meditative exercises and living according to teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It became wildly popular. By 1999, state authorities estimated that between 70 and 100 million people had taken up Falun Gong—more than there were members of the CCP.
When Jiang launched the campaign to eradicate Falun Gong in July 1999, he expected it to be over in three months. By the time he was scheduled to retire in 2002, though, Falun Gong showed no signs of being wiped out.
This posed a problem. Jiang’s campaign had put the CCP at war against approximately one in twelve Chinese. Millions had been sent to labor camps, where they were tortured and brainwashed. Thousands of those had been murdered by the abuse. Thousands more had been killed through forced, live organ harvesting.
If Jiang or those loyal to Jiang were not in power, then the crimes committed in the persecution would be exposed and the members of Jiang’s faction would be held accountable. The struggles behind the scenes surrounding the 16th Party Congress in 2002, the 17th Party Congress in 2007, and the upcoming 18th Party Congress have all turned around the attempt by Jiang’s faction to hold onto power and so avoid being called to account.
In 2003 Hu Jintao became the General Secretary of the CCP, but for a long time he would not hold real power. Jiang Zemin, as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, still called the shots.
In addition, with Jiang’s longtime fixer Zeng Qinghong as vice-chair of the CCP, Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao had difficulty getting their writ to extend beyond the walls of the Party compound of Zhongnanhai.
After Jiang completely retired in 2004 and Hu became the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Hu only had authority to promote Major Generals.
Regarding Falun Gong, Hu and Jiang had different views.
To sustain the persecution against Falun Gong practitioners, the CCP has spent huge amounts of money and has brought the Chinese legal system to the point of collapse.
Former deputy director of the Police Bureau Liu Jing said that during one meeting in 2001 Jiang wanted to add a 610 Office (the 610 Office is an extra-constitutional Party organ established by Jiang to carry out the persecution of Falun Gong. It has authority over every level of the Party and the state) at every level of the police system.
Hu said, “adding 610 Offices will add many people and cost a lot.”
Jiang became furious and yelled at Hu in a remark that revealed Jiang’s fear of the peaceful spiritual practice, “Falun Gong is about to usurp your power, and you are talking about personnel and budget?” Hu stayed quiet after that.
After an assassination attempt on Hu in 2006, the balance started to turn in Hu’s favor.
In May 2006, Hu Jintao went to the Yellow Sea to inspect the fleet. During the inspection, machine guns from two warships opened fire on the guided missile destroyer Hu was on, killing five seamen.
The destroyer fled the area at top speed. To avoid further assassination attempts, Hu didn’t return to Beijing, but flew to the southwestern province of Yunnan. He only returned to Beijing a week later.
Afterward, Hu Jintao started to solidify his control over the military, starting from Beijing, then to the Central Military Commission, and then to Chongqing.
Read More: The Struggle Over Xi