The arrest of noted Chinese human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng (see "Gao Zhisheng Kidnapped by CCP Authorities in Shandong Province") by Chinese regime security agents on Aug. 15 raised an important question.
Gao has endured over eight months of intense harassment by security agents, including three assassination attempts. Why was he arrested at this particular moment? The answer lies in an ongoing power struggle for control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The Sixth Plenary Session of the 16th CCP's Central Committee is around the corner. The meeting, as usual, is the time for different factions inside the CCP to deploy their ranks for the upcoming Party Congress—the 17th Party Congress meets next year. Currently, different factions are struggling and wrestling with each other as they approach the last dash.
Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao Send Signals
Recently, in the investigation into the social security fund embezzlement of the Shanghai Municipal Labor and Social Security Bureau, Qin Yu, Shanghai Baoshan District Party Secretary and Governor, was found to be involved in a serious discipline violation. He is currently under the Party's discipline detention for investigation.
According to Caijing , a Chinese financial review magazine, Qin Yu had worked for long time as secretary for Chen Liangyu, a member of the CCP's Politburo and Party Secretary in Shanghai. Chen has a close relationship with former communist regime president Jiang Zemin and also plays a critical role in Shanghai. Backed by Jiang, Chen censured Premier Wen Jinbao in a politburo conference in 2004 regarding Wen's macroeconomic regulation policy.
Qin's discipline detention for investigation was seen by the outside world as Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao's continuous efforts to strike at the Shanghai Faction—which is led by Jiang Zemin— inside the CCP. But this does not explain why the Hu-Wen regime made its move at this time.
For the past eight months period until his arrest, Gao was not in jail but lived under 24-hour surveillance, with dozens of plainclothes police officers following him and his family every day. Analysts have commented that Gao not being put in jail during this time period was the result of a mutual agreement between the two factions in power. Then why the sudden arrest?
An insider from Beijing disclosed that Gao's arrest actually generated a great deal of pressure on the current authorities. Gao's arrest has damaged Hu and Wen's international image. Political pressure has also increased with time. They have lost people's trust already. Gao's arrest also negatively impacts the Hu-Wen regime's arrangements before the Central Committee Sixth Plenary Session.
By punishing an important figure of the Shanghai Faction, Qin Yu, the Hu-Wen regime wants to send a signal that inside the CCP, there is a great discrepancy on the Gao issue. In this way, the Hu-Wen regime first shows it can damage the Shanghai Faction; second, it shows its hands were clean of Gao's arrest and the beating of Ho Chun Yan in Hong Kong [Hong Kong Legislative Council member and long-time democracy activist Ho Chun Yan was beaten on Aug. 20]. Their move kills two birds with one stone.
Actually, the struggle in Shanghai is just unfolding, Qin Yu is the second bureau-level cadre to have fallen because of the social security fund embezzlement investigation. The first to be purged was Zhu Junyi (see note), the director of the Shanghai Municipal Labor and Social Security Bureau. Currently, Beijing has sent out more than 100 permanent investigators to be stationed in Shanghai for the 3.2 billion yuan (approximately U.S.$400 million) social security fund embezzlement case.
Countdown to the Meeting
The Central Committee Plenary Session is deemed as the prelude of the 17th CCP Party Congress next year. Thus, normally, every faction acts cautiously to avoid any mistakes.
Last year, in the Fifth Plenary Session Official Journal, there was only one simple sentence describing microeconomic regulation policy that was strongly promoted by Hu and Wen. No detailed measures for the microeconomic regulation were mentioned.
Hu and Wen have learned a lesson this year. To keep from any embarrassment that their instructions cannot be carried out, Hu and Wen have taken successive actions to show they are eager to build their own public credibility.
On Aug. 1, five ministries and commissions, including the State Development and Reform Commission, sent out an urgent notice, requesting local governments to do a complete check within a month on special projects started in this year.
On Aug. 14, the Ministry of Land Resource announced a land registration management plan that China will unfold the second land resources survey to ensure the effective monitoring of land embezzlement.
On Aug. 18, China's central bank announced a new interest rate raise, and Wen Jiabao ordered the investigation into the Shanghai social security fund embezzlement case.
Fighting corruption is the main measure to purge competitors inside the CCP.
It is believed that Hu Jintao is pinning all his hopes on the macroeconomic regulation policy. In October (after the Sixth Plenary Meeting), people may be able to see the Hu-Wen regime's governing ability.
Why the Shanghai Faction Arrested Gao
On the issue of the persecution of Falun Gong, Hu and Wen have all the while been keeping their distance from the persecution, and put themselves at an advantage.
On the contrary, Jiang Zemin initiated the persecution of Falun Gong, and Luo Gan and Zeng Qinhong have used their control over the public security system and national security system, respectively, to help Jiang enforce the persecution. Because of the persecution's failure, they have struggled to get the whole party to support their crime. But two recent incidents have made their situation even more awkward.
One is the news of organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners. In recent months, Falun Gong practitioners' worldwide protest on this issue has won the support of governments in the international community, and Falun Gong's grassroots efforts have developed into diplomatic pressure.
The other is the recent widely reported event that China Eastern Airlines pilot Yuan Sheng is seeking asylum in the U.S. after being threatened at the Shanghai airport when distributing the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party and encouraging people to quit the CCP. Previously the CCP had exhausted all means to cover up the existence of the "Quit the CCP campaign" and the wide distribution of the Nine Commentaries in China.
Both incidents could continue to develop and draw more international attention, and when these things will be put on the table, someone inside the CCP must be held responsible. That is what the Shanghai Faction most fears, and so they are trying their best to divert people's attention and to cover up their actions.
When the organ harvesting news was just unveiled, because the evil nature of the crime was beyond people's imagination, some people were hesitant to believe it, and the CCP has been exerting pressure on various governments and corporations through diplomatic means, to entice and force them to avoid the topic.
In this regard, it is of interest that Dr. Wenyi Wang was told not to talk about the organ harvesting when she was invited on a CNN program to discuss why she cried out at the White House ceremony during Hu's visit.
Since Canadian human rights attorney David Matas and former Canadian Member of Parliament David Kilgour published their report confirming the CCP's slaughtering of Falun Gong practitioners for organs, this topic has become unavoidable for the governments of democratic countries.
Under such circumstances, the Shanghai Faction is in desperate need to divert the focus. So they decided to arrest Gao. Apparently, Gao was chosen by Zeng and Luo because of his determination in supporting Falun Gong and also because of his status as a leading figure among defenders of human rights. Therefore, they took action against Gao, not only so they could take revenge and vent their hatred, but also to divert attention so that the organ-harvesting problem would stay off-stage. If their tough measure works, Zeng and Luo can expect to not be questioned or edged out by their opponents at the Sixth CCP Plenary Conferences, and they could also make Hu and Wen as the scapegoat, crippling their power and causing them to lose their popularity.
Zeng and Luo's sudden violence in arresting Gao and beating up Ho Chun Yan in Hong Kong did indeed shift international attention. Gao's arrest on Aug. 15 immediately drew global attention, and many high-level officials from various government and personnel from private organizations raised concerns.
At this time, Hu Jintao is taking a heavy-handed approach toward the Shanghai Faction, and those in the faction are feeling insecure. Hu's counter-attack also clears him of any involvement in the Gao Zhisheng arrest.
[ Note: Zhu Junyi, the director of the Shanghai Municipal Labor and Social Security Bureau, was involved in accepting bribes and illegally providing a loan of 3.2 billion yuan from the Social Security Fund to the private enterprise Fuxi Co.'s Chairman of the Board Zhang Jongkun. Zhu Junyi has a very close relationship with the wife of Huang Ju, a Standing Member of the CCP Central Politburo. ]