Unbridled Evil: The Corrupt Reign of Jiang Zemin in China | Chapter 1, Part I:

Unbridled Evil: The Corrupt Reign of Jiang Zemin in China | Chapter 1, Part I:
Jiang Zemin, retired general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, raises his hand at the 19th Party Congress on Oct. 24, 2017 in Beijing. Claims by self-exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and analysis of stock data suggest that the Jiang family may possess as much as $1 trillion in shadow assets. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Read the series here: Unbridled Evil

Jiang Zemin’s Rise

Table of Contents
Section 1: Jiang Zemin’s OriginsSection 2: Political Beneficiary of the Tiananmen Square MassacreSection 3: Jiang Holds Back On Deng’s Economic ReformOn Aug. 17, 1926, Jiang Zemin was born in the city of Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. His father became a high-ranking official in the puppet government under the Japanese occupation in 1940s. According to Jiang Zemin, he was adopted by his uncle, who was killed fighting the Japanese during World War II. It is doubtful that Jiang was legally adopted as Jiang maintained. For his future career, however, Jiang wanted to claim familial connection to his uncle, a war hero, and downplay his relationship with a father who would be regarded as a traitor to the country.

Jiang joined the Communist Party in April 1946. Over forty years later, Jiang Zemin was appointed General Secretary of the CCP Central Committee, shortly after paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and Communist Party elders ordered the military to open fire on the students in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989. Jiang replaced Zhao Ziyang, who was general secretary of the Communist Party and sympathetic to the students. Later Jiang Zemin served as the president of China from March 1993 to March 2003, and chairman of the CCP Central Military Commission (CMC) from November 1989 to September 2004, when he reluctantly stepped down. Since then, he has continued to exert influence from behind the scenes through his cohorts.

In most cases, one’s legacy is determined by one’s personality and moral character, and that is no less true in Jiang’s case. Jiang’s hunger for power and his jealousy and cowardice have wreaked havoc upon Chinese society for more than twenty years. The damages inflicted by his reign continue to be felt today.

Section 1: Jiang Zemin’s Origins

Jiang’s Family Background

Jiang Zemin was born into a large family. His grandfather had seven children. Notably, the eldest child, Jiang Shijun, supported the Japanese and its puppet government in China during World War II when China was under Japanese occupation. Jiang Zemin was the eldest son of a pro-Japanese father, and not of the senior communist leader Jiang Shangqing.[1]

The records show that Jiang Zemin’s father, Jiang Shijun, joined the pro-Japanese organization Peace Salvation Council in 1938, after the Nanjing massacre in which the Japanese Army murdered Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants numbering anywhere between 40,000 to over 300,000, and perpetrated widespread rape and looting for six weeks starting on Dec. 13, 1937, when the Japanese broke into Nanjing. Jiang Shijun later worked for the Japanese Army at the Nanjing Provisional Committee .

In November 1940, Jiang Zemin’s father, Jiang Shijun, worked in the collaborationist government of Wang Jingwei in Nanjing, the puppet regime of the Japanese, which stood in opposition to the Nationalist Chinese government in Chongqing, Sichuan Province. Jiang Zemin’s father, Jiang Shijun, was appointed a vice-minister in the Ministry of Propaganda of the Wang government and the head of the ministry’s editorial committee. The mission of the Ministry of Propaganda was to brainwash local residents under the Japanese occupation. He received several awards of merit from the Japanese Army for his achievements at the Ministry of Propaganda.

With a father known for his treacherous support of the Japanese against China, it was virtually impossible that Jiang could gain trust and eventually make it all the way to the top of the CCP. So, he had to find ways to hide or mitigate his background.

Jiang Adopts a Deceased Father

Jiang’s uncle Jiang Shangqing (also known as Jiang Shihou) joined the Communist Party in 1928 and became a senior communist leader of Anhui Province. Killed by the pro-Japanese armed forces in 1939 at the age of 28, he was survived by his wife and two daughters, Jiang Zeling and Jiang Zehui.

To ascend in the CCP, a communist martyr family background and patronage of high-ranking CCP officials are critical. But Jiang’s father was viewed as a traitor because he supported and served as an official for the Japanese during World War II. When he was deputy director of China’s Import and Export Commission in 1982, Jiang Zemin began to seek out senior communists affiliated with his uncle. He learned that his uncle worked with Zhang Aiping, then a CCP general, on the Special Committee of Northeastern Anhui Province.

Jiang Zemin saw his opportunity at a national CCP conference that General Zhang Aiping was attending. Jiang Zemin laid in wait at the entrance. When Zhang Aiping came out, Jiang Zemin asked him whether Zhang knew Jiang Shangqing. Zhang said that he knew Jiang Shangqing and that in fact Jiang Shangqing was one of his good comrades. Jiang Zemin immediately responded by saying that he was the adopted son of Jiang Shangqing and that, after Jiang Shangqing was killed, Jiang Zemin’s parents sent him to be the adopted son to Jiang Shangqing.

At Jiang Zemin’s promotion, word spread that Zhang Aiping had confirmed that Jiang Shangqing was his adoptive father, which meant Jiang Zemin was the adoptive son of a communist martyr. In 1985, three years later, at the request of Jiang Zemin, General Zhang Aiping wrote for Jiang Shangqing’s tombstone. Shortly thereafter, Jiang brought his own wife, Wang Yeping, and his uncle’s two daughters (Jiang Zehui and Jiang Zelin), as well as other relatives of Jiang, to the burial site, thus completing the transformation of Jiang Zemin from the son of a pro-Japanese collaborator to the son of a communist martyr.

Not all were convinced. It was reported that Jiang Shangqing’s daughter, Jiang Zehui, once commented that without her family supporting Jiang Zemin’s claims of being adopted, Jiang Zemin would be one of five “black categories,” referring to the CCP’s labeling of five pariah groups, i.e., landlords, rich peasants, reactionaries, bad elements, and rightists. These were the targets of attack in various CCP political campaigns.

Jiang’s Japanese Affiliations

In his book, The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin, Robert Lawrence Kuhn devoted the second chapter, “I’m a Patriot,” to describe the details of Jiang Zemin’s patriotic activities in the 1940s.

In September 1939, the Japanese troops established the Great Japanese Imperial Army China Expeditionary Force Command in Nanjing. From 1940 to 1945, they selected Chinese students loyal to the Japanese to be sent to Nanjing to attend a Central University established by the Wang Jingwei puppet government. The original Nanjing Central University had moved together with the Nationalist Chinese government to Chongqing, Sichuan Province.

What actually happened was that, by the end of 1943, the Japanese government introduced the so-called New China Foreign Policy that pledged to “respect China’s sovereignty,” but really was designed to make the collaborationist regime align closely to Japanese objectives. The Wang government’s Propaganda Minister Lin Bosheng even wanted to use this opportunity to acquire from Japan the right for the puppet government to sell opium to the public.

Jiang’s father, as a senior official of the Propaganda Ministry in Wang’s puppet government, instructed his son to actively support the puppet government. Jiang Zemin was particularly active in his support. However, after Jiang became the CCP general secretary, this support of Jiang Zemin’s youth was interpreted in such a way as to give Jiang the veneer of patriotism. It was said that Jiang’s active participation in patriotic student movements was led by the underground Communist Party. This interpretation found its way into Kuhn’s book.

On Sept. 3, 1945, Japan surrendered, and the puppet government ceased to exist. On March 13, 1946, the Nationalist government promulgated and amended the “Traitors Punishment Ordinance,” effective immediately. Jiang Zemin’s father, Jiang Shijun, was on the wanted list. Jiang Zemin himself soon was wanted by the Nationalist government for interrogation. He fled to a remote village in Jiangxi Province and went into hiding. An arrest warrant was issued against him. Six months later, due to protests of the students against interrogations of students, the Nationalist government cancelled the interrogation process. In late 1946, Jiang returned to Shanghai and enrolled at Shanghai Jiaotong University.

Robert Kuhn mentioned in his book that Jiang participated in many street demonstration activities during his study at Shanghai Jiaotong University. However, according to Hu Suoming, an underground CCP member at Shanghai Jiaotong University at the time and one year senior to Jiang Zemin, Hu had no recollection of seeing Jiang in any activities led by the CCP underground organization in Shanghai Jiaotong University.

Jiang Attends University Under Japanese Control

A copy of Jiang Zemin’s student library card at the Central University established that Jiang Zemin attended this Central University under Wang Jingwei’s puppet government. The “Nanjing Central University (1940-1945) Alumni Address Book” amended and reprinted in July 1989 lists Jiang Zemin on page 42, stating he studied and left without a degree in 1942 from the Electric Engineering Department, School of Engineering.

Attending the Central University under Wang’s collaborationist government is not something Jiang Zemin would like to brag about.

In 2002, Nanjing University located Jiang’s transcript and his student library card when preparing for its centennial celebration. It was reported to the Central Organization Department of the CCP, hoping that Jiang would be able to attend his alma mater’s centennial celebrations activities. To the surprise of the university, the invitation was withheld by the leaders of the Central Organization Department. The university was ordered not to mention the matter. Later, the university finally learned that Jiang was attending the Central University during the time of the puppet government, not the highly regarded Nanjing Central University.

Jiang’s False Claims of CCP Membership

Jiang claimed that he joined the underground Communist Party in April 1946 at Shanghai Jiaotong University. Several CCP veterans have provided evidence that the claim is false.[2]

Born in 1925, Hu Suoming joined the CCP Shanghai underground organization in 1942. In the same year, he was admitted to the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Shanghai Jiaotong University, and graduated in 1946. According to Hu, Jiang Zemin was transferred to Shanghai Jiaotong University when the Nanjing Central University was merged into Shanghai Jiaotong University in 1946. Jiang Zemin studied at the Electrical Machinery Department and was one school year behind Hu’s class. Hu did not see Jiang in all the activities organized by the CCP underground organization in the Shanghai Jiaotong University. Nor did anyone mention Jiang Zemin to him or inform him that Jiang Zemin was a member of the CCP underground organization. He was not aware, and did not believe, that Jiang Zemin was a CCP member before 1949 when the communists took power.

Jiang claimed that Wang Jiayou, an underground CCP member at the Nanjing Central University, sponsored him to become a CCP member at Shanghai Jiaotong University. However, Hu Suoming believes that Wang himself could not be considered a CCP member because he did not complete the process to become a CCP member when at Nanjing Central University. Therefore, Wang was not qualified to sponsor anyone to join the CCP.

After the war was over, the CCP member registry and affiliation from Nanjing was transferred to the Shanghai CCP underground organization. This transfer covered those CCP underground members who had worked or studied at the former Nanjing Central University and moved to Shanghai later on. Those who were involved in the transfer could not recall Jiang’s name in the transferred registry. Specifically, Wu Zengliang, the head of the CCP underground organization at Shanghai Jiaotong University, said that Jiang was not in his CCP underground organization and that Jiang did not express any interest to him in joining the CCP.

Because it is a serious matter whether Jiang was a member of the CCP underground organization, and that Wu Zengliang, He Chongyin, and Chen Xiuliang had personal knowledge on this issue, they met and held a discussion to recollect the details. They concluded that neither at Nanjing Central University nor Shanghai Jiaotong University was Jiang a member of the CCP underground organization in 1946. In addition, he was not a CCP member during the period from 1946 until the CCP took over Shanghai in 1949.

After Jiang became the general secretary of the CCP, in order to prove that he did join the underground Communist Party in 1946, Jiang not only presented Wang Jiayou as his sponsor to join the CCP in Shanghai Jiaotong University, but also said that that He Chongyin also sponsored him. He Chongyin was upset by this misrepresentation and tried to refute it. At that time Jiang was the top CCP leader and head of state. Out of fear for his safety, He Chongyin did not openly refute Jiang’s story, yet managed to write articles implying that he did not sponsor Jiang to join the CCP.

Section 2: Political Beneficiary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre

The year 1989 was the turning point in Jiang Zemin’s political career. In large part, Jiang owes his meteoric ascendency to the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989. The truth is that Jiang played an important role in the massacre. For someone who was ready to retire from the post of the General Secretary of the Shanghai Communist Party Committee, Tiananmen was what he needed to rocket-launch him to the top of the CCP.

Rise to Power During Tiananmen Square Standoff

The critical events are as follows. Beginning in April 1989, students gathered at Tiananmen Square for seven weeks seeking democracy and an end to corruption. These demands received broad support throughout China. On June 4, the order was given to clear the square. The People’s Liberation Army, with assault rifles and tanks, inflicted casualties on unarmed civilians. From CCP internal documents obtained by U.S. intelligence, 10,454 were killed. Total casualties were as high as 40,000. To date, the CCP denies any civilian deaths as result of the military action.

On April 15, 1989, Hu Yaobang, former General Secretary of the CCP who had been just ousted due to his pro-reform stance, died of a heart attack in Beijing. To many, his passing away dimmed the last hope for democratic reform at a time when abuse of power and corruption of the CCP officials was reaching new heights. It wouldn’t take much to set off protests given the corruption and pent-up resentment against the CCP that prevailed throughout the country.

On April 17, several thousand students in Beijing left their campuses and marched to Tiananmen Square, holding banners reading, “In Memory of Hu Yaobang,” and shouting, “Eliminate corruption,” “Rule the country by law,” and “Down with bureaucracy!” These demands were echoed by students throughout the country who engaged in local demonstrations, assemblies, and petitioning activities. Within days of occupying Tiananmen Square, students called for a dialogue with CCP leaders to establish democracy and the rule of law.

At the time, Jiang Zemin, who was the General Secretary of the Shanghai Communist Party Committee, was about to retire.

On April 19, 1989, the editors of a Shanghai liberal newspaper World Economic Herald (世界经济导报) organized a seminar. The next day, the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee Propaganda Department headed by Chen Zhili learned that the World Economic Herald would dedicate a column to commemorate Hu Yaobang. She immediately informed Jiang Zemin.
On the afternoon of April 21, Jiang instructed Vice Secretary of the Shanghai CCP Committee Zeng Qinghong and Chen Zhili to talk to Qin Benli, editor-in-chief of the World Economic Herald. Qin Benli intended for his newspaper to join with the magazine New Observations (新观察) to devote several pages on the forum recently held in Beijing on April 19 to commemorate Hu Yaobang. Zeng and Chen ordered that the final proof version of the newspaper issue be sent for their review and approval as soon as possible.
At 8:30 pm the next day when discussing the proof version with Qin, Zeng ordered the removal of 500 words. Apparently, these words were quotes taken from speeches of intellectuals, including Dai Qing, then reporter for Guangming Daily (光明日报), and Yan Jiaqi, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and political advisor to Zhao Ziyang during the 1980s. Speaking on the CCP’s 70-year history and the fates of its general secretaries, Dai said they all had come to miserable ends due to “non-procedural power shifts.”

In response to Zeng, Qin insisted that the government had agreed that the editor-in-chief of a newspaper shall be fully responsible for its operation. He said, “If anything goes wrong, I will take full responsibility. In any case, Comrade Jiang Zemin hasn’t seen the proof version. The Shanghai Party Committee and the Propaganda Department will have no responsibility for any consequences from the publication of this newspaper issue.”

Zeng was enraged. Qin would not budge and refused to cut off any content from the proof version.

Jiang Zemin did not expect Qin to be so adamant in refusing Zeng. He summoned the Herald’s honorary board chairman Wang Daohan for help. By this time, however, over 100,000 copies of the newspaper had already been printed, with 400 copies already distributed to the newsstands and another 400 copies shipped to Beijing. Though 20,000 copies were thereafter pulled from circulation, the newspaper had been printed in full.

On April 22, the funeral for Hu Yaobang was held.

On April 26, the People’s Daily published an editorial titled “We Must Unequivocally Oppose the Turmoil.” It condemned the students’ actions and stated they had “disturbed the social order.” It also alleged that the nature of the students’ actions was “illegal” and called for an end to the commotion. It claimed that the aim of the student movement was to demoralize the people, with the ultimate goal to “fundamentally negate the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the entire socialist system.”
Also on April 26, Jiang announced at a rally attended by 14,000 CCP members the dismissal of Qin Benli from his position of editor-in-chief, and the restructuring of the World Economic Herald.
Jiang’s purging of the newspaper World Economic Herald turned the student movement into a much broader movement involving freedom of expression. Large protests broke out in the streets of Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities. Prominent authors in the Shanghai Writers’ Association joined the demonstration, with eight thousand students at a sit-in at the Shanghai City Hall. Other prominent figures in the community of intellectuals in Beijing and in the press telegraphed Jiang Zemin, demanding that he rescind his decision on Qin and the World Economic Herald.

Jiang Zemin became worried.

In Beijing, two journalists delivered a petition to the Chinese Journalists Association, signed by 1,013 journalists from more than 30 news organizations in the capital area. The petition called for dialogue with the CCP leaders in charge of the Party’s propaganda operation. The petition listed three items as the agenda for the dialogues, the first being the rescission of Jiang Zemin’s dismissal of the World Economic Herald’s editor-in-chief Qin Benli. At issue was that, by Jiang Zemin’s actions, the CCP was breaking its word that the editor-in-chief of a newspaper shall be the one responsible for its operation.
On April 30, the CCP General Secretary Zhao Ziyang returned from a visit to North Korea. Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong flew to Beijing the very night to report to Zhao Ziyang. “The Shanghai Party Committee’s hasty handling of the World Economic Herald turned a spark into a wildfire, and put ourselves at a dead end,” said Zhao.

On May 13, students began a hunger strike on Tiananmen Square. Meanwhile, thousands of students in Shanghai gathered in front of the city hall to protest Jiang Zemin’s decision.

At a Politburo meeting mid-May, some suggested that Jiang Zemin didn’t handle the students’ legitimate requests well, and therefore Jiang should speak directly to the students to declare their movement patriotic and legal. This suggestion angered other Politburo members. The meeting ended without resolution.

On May 19, Zhao Ziyang went to Tiananmen Square apparently to see for himself the students on hunger strike, with tears in his eyes. At 10 o’clock in the evening, Premier Li Peng delivered a speech on national TV and reaffirmed the CCP’s position to take “stern measures to end the riots.” Two hours later, around midnight, a loudspeaker in Tiananmen Square declared martial law.

At 2:00 am on May 20, shortly after Li Peng’ speech, Jiang wasted no time and became the first CCP official announcing support of the CCP’s decision in a telegraph sent to the CCP Central Committee.

Such an act of loyalty takes priority over other considerations in choosing a new leader. Without a doubt this action gave the CCP leaders the confidence that they had found a reliable successor to Zhao Ziyang. As Kuhn documents it, “Senior Party officials stated that at this time, on May 20, the decision was made to ‘nominate Jiang Zemin to become the new General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CCP.’” This part was not in the Chinese edition of Kuhn’s book.

On May 27, at a gathering of senior CCP leaders, Jiang Zemin was picked to be the next general secretary. As one attendant put it, despite Jiang Zemin’s lack of experience, he was “politically savvy, energetic, and trustworthy.”

On June 1, the timing of the massacre was agreed to. The People’s Liberation Army, consisting of up to 300,000 troops in Beijing, was scheduled to launch the assault on the night of June 3rd. When the world woke up the next day, over 10,000 unarmed students and residents had been killed by gunfire and tanks. The regime has always made the ludicrous claim that no one was killed. The eagerness to slaughter and maim the young unarmed protesters, most of whom tried to flee to avoid death, showed the savage cruelty of the CCP.

The story of Fang Zheng was particularly horrifying. A graduating senior in the Department of Theory, Beijing Physical Education Institute, he lost both legs when a military tank intentionally sped over them.

In a 2005 interview with The Epoch Times, Fang stated the following: “I didn’t have time to dodge [the tank], and was knocked to the ground. The tank then ran over my legs. Tank treads have many chains and wheel gears turning in them, and I felt my pants getting pulled into the tread gears by the chains, and there was tremendous force. I was slightly conscious, and could tell that my body was being dragged on the ground for a ways. Later the doctors at the hospital told me that my head, back, and shoulders had been bruised and lacerated. After the chains on the treads shredded my pants and pulverized my legs, I fell to the ground and rolled to the side of the street near the sidewalk fence… I saw the scene later by coincidence when I was browsing the Internet using DynaWeb. I saw what had happened to me that night. I think it’s available on websites hosted by some countries outside of China. You can see a person lying on the ground by the fence, his legs gone. That person is me. Both my legs were partially torn off. My right leg was severed at the upper thigh, the left leg at the knee.[3]

‘Riots’ Caused Tiananmen Square Violence

The communist regime of China would like for the Tiananmen Square massacre to be completely wiped out from everyone’s memory and won’t tolerate discussion. However, outside of China, the anniversary of June 4 is marked by protests and interviews, historic photos, and articles that commemorate the massacre. It is an embarrassment to China that did not sit well with Jiang. So it was said that in 2002, right before he stepped down from the positions of the CCP General Secretary and President of China, he set a few rules for the Politburo Standing Committee, one of which being the prohibition of overturning the official determination of the massacre as “riots,” alleging that the student protesters used violence against the military. Never mind that the students, with a few exceptions, were unarmed and the military was equipped with machine guns and tanks.

In the aftermath of the crackdown, Jiang Zemin ordered widespread arrests of protesters and supporters, suppressed any protests in China, expelled foreign journalists, and tightly controlled media coverage of social unrest.

In a press conference not long after June 4, 1989, a French journalist asked Mr. Jiang of a Chinese friend, a woman who was wounded in Tiananmen Square and then arrested and sent to a prison farm where she was raped three times in her first week. Jiang replied that the account was “fairy tales from the Arabian Nights.[4]

For Jiang, the most important thing was to erase what he did in Tiananmen massacre from the memory of the Chinese people. To this end, Jiang ordered the production of television programs that fabricated scenes of students burning military vehicles, so that those who did not personally experience the massacre would believe that riots really did take place in Beijing.

During the post-massacre purge, Jiang learned to skillfully harness the machinery of propaganda and violence. Ten years later, Jiang would repeat these kinds of tactics when vilifying Falun Gong. The most notorious example was on Jan. 23, 2001, when the CCP staged the so-called Tiananmen Self-immolation, which involved several actors portraying themselves as Falun Gong meditators setting themselves on fire. The staged self-immolation was played repeatedly on television across the nation to discredit Falun Gong and turn the populace against people who practice Falun Gong.

Section 3: Jiang Holds Back On Deng’s Economic Reform

Jiang Zemin emerged as the next Communist Party leader amid the battle between Deng Xiaoping and the conservatives, and this surprised many observers. Wu Jiaxiang, once a member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee, labeled Jiang Zemin and his followers “the Black Horse Group.” According to Wu, “Sycophancy is the name of their game; they are always politically correct because they never take a position.” He added, “They are thoroughly utilitarian and want nothing but power and money.”

After Jiang took power, the CCP was widely condemned internationally for the use of force against the unarmed students. Western countries, led by the United States, imposed economic sanctions and arms embargoes. China was isolated.

Deng Xiaoping felt that the communist government must continue to push for economic reform and develop a market economy, regaining people’s trust through economic improvements. But Jiang Zemin did not agree. An open society would make it more difficult for him to control people. He abandoned Deng’s economy-centered strategy, and instead focused on suppressing political opponents as well as on tightening controls.

In 1991, the Soviet Union and the eastern European communist regimes collapsed. CCP leaders were dealt a sudden blow.

By the end of 1991, Deng Xiaoping had become utterly enraged by Jiang’s actions, and lost his confidence in Jiang, the so-called “third generation leader.” Although Deng did not hold any official positions at the time, he maintained tight, effective control of the military. His close friend since 1932, Yang Shangkun, was then president of China. Yang’s brother, Yang Baibing was secretary general, a top ranking official of the Central Military Commission (CMC) which holds the command and control of the People’s Liberation Army. Together with Liu Huaqing, then Vice Chairman of the CMC, Deng had the support of the military leaders who were loyal to Deng. Jiang Zemin was appointed chairman of the CMC in November 1989 and he had never even touched a gun before. Not surprisingly, the generals were not impressed.

Deng Xiaoping was determined to use his influence with the military to change that. He planned to replace the anti-reform group led by Jiang Zemin with pro-reform people at the 14th CCP Congress, with Qiao Shi in mind as the next general secretary of the CCP Central Committee to replace Jiang Zemin.

Deng Xiaoping also planned to put Zhao Ziyang, a steadfast reformer who was under house arrest, back to serve as chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Deng sent people to talk to Zhao and asked him to publicly denounce his pro-student actions during the June 4th massacre. Zhao refused. Zhao said, “Why did I leave office without issuing an apology for wrongful conduct? Because that was my choice…I do not think I did anything wrong. To admit that I did something wrong is a distortion of the truth.”

To push his economic reform agenda, Deng, 88, embarked on a tour which is now known as “Deng Xiaoping’s Inspection in South China” that covered Wuchang, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Shanghai in 1992, from January 18 to February 21. Deng was accompanied by his wife, daughter, and several old friends, including then-President Yang Shangkun.

Jiang’s Resistance to Reform Infuriates Deng

On January 18, Deng arrived in Wuchang. He asked local officials to tell Jiang that “whoever opposes the strategic path set by the 13th CCP Congress [i.e., economic reform] needs to resign.” Jiang resented that and reluctantly declared his support of Deng’s southern inspection speeches on reform.

On January 19, Deng’s train reached Shenzhen. The normally taciturn Deng delivered a lengthy speech, which served as an ultimatum to Jiang Zemin. In his speech, Deng reiterated his earlier message: “The reform and opening up is the chosen course supported by the Party and the people. Whoever is against it should step down.”

On February 20, 1992 at a Politburo meeting, Jiang deleted large sections of Deng’s speeches delivered in his southern inspection tour, especially statements such as, “The reform and opening up is the chosen course supported by the party and the people. Whoever is against it should step down,” saying some of Deng’s remarks “may lead to instability among Party officials.” He also ordered the state media not to report on the details of Deng’s southern tour.

On Jan. 18, 2012, 20 years after Deng’s southern tour, the newspaper Nanfang Daily (南方日报) reported some remarks Deng made at the time that were never made public. Deng said, “Do not launch political campaigns, do not focus on forms, leaders should be clear-minded and not [let their ideology] affect their work.” Deng also said that “leaders who are getting older should resign from their posts. Otherwise, they’re prone to making mistakes. Look at me, I’m an old man with poor memory; I stutter when I talk. So we elderly people should step down and wholeheartedly support younger leaders[5]” Who knows what went through Jiang Zemin’s mind when he read those remarks back in 1992. Rather than heeding these remarks, Jiang delayed power transfer to the Party’s next leader, Hu Jintao, who was handpicked by Deng Xiaoping. Jiang used every opportunity to restrain Hu, even after Jiang stepped down. By these moves, Jiang created a rift within the Party that continues to this day.
The military generals stepped in. Yang Baibing, CMC Secretary-General, spoke at a military meeting and indicated the CMC’s intention to “safeguard the reform.” Meanwhile, at his direction, the state’s military newspaper, People’s Liberation Army Daily, published an editorial titled, “Safeguard Reform and Opening Up.” The editorial stated that the military would “unwaveringly follow Comrade Deng Xiaoping’s call and safeguard the process of reform.”

Jiang Humbles Himself

CMC Secretary-General Yang Baibing’s public support for Deng’s pro-reform speeches made clear to all the military’s loyalty to Deng Xiaoping. The strong rhetoric shook up Jiang and his anti-reform group.

It was only a few months away from the 14th CCP Congress, when leadership changes often occur. Jiang Zemin’s mediocre performance, political trickery, and continued resistance to reform after Deng Xiaoping’s southern tour pushed Deng to the limit. He had to speak up again. On May 22, 1992, in spite of the record heat that day, Deng Xiaoping visited the Capital City Iron and Steel Company in Beijing. Deng complained to a large group of officials and workers, “Some people only supported my speeches on the surface, half-heartedly; some are silent to show their opposition and disagreement; only a small portion of people really responded with actions.” He also asked accompanying Beijing officials to pass his words to the central government, that is, to Jiang Zemin.

In early summer 1992, Jiang Zemin’s popularity among Party power brokers plummeted. There were talks about how long he would keep his Party Secretary position. Jiang became more and more restless, apprehensive of losing power and becoming the target of large-scale criticism within the Party. Jiang publicly announced his support of Deng Xiaoping’s reform and open door policy, and paid a personal visit to Deng Xiaoping. With tears in his eyes, he swore to Deng Xiaoping his loyalty to Deng and his resolute determination to carry out the economic reforms. History would prove that this was yet another show put on by Jiang Zemin. The pledge of allegiance did not mean that Jiang believed in Deng’s reform and open-door policy, but it was, rather, an opportunistic move to stay in power.

[1] This section and the next three sections are based on Lv, Jiaping (2009, December 5). Jiang Zemin’s “Two Traitors and Two Lies” Political Fraud and Request for Investigation [Web blog post]. Retrieved from the Epoch Times. http://www.epochtimes.com/gb/10/1/9/n2781579.htm
[2] This section is based on Lv, Jiaping (2010, August 13). New Evidence Showing Jiang Zemin Was Not an Underground Communist Party Member [Web blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.aboluowang.com/2010/0813/175594.html
[3] The Epoch Times Special Interview of Fang Zheng (2005, May 31). Tank Rolled Over My Legs. http://www.epochtimes.com/gb/5/5/31/n938787.htm
[4] Kristof, Nicholas. (1989, September 27) Tiananmen Killings Not a ‘Tragedy,’ Chinese Party Chief Says. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1989/09/27/world/tiananmen-killings-not-a-tragedy-chinese-party-chief-ays.html
[5] Zhou, Hucheng. (November 14, 2014). Secret: Which two sentences in Deng Xiaoping’s “Southern Talks” have not been reported? People’s Daily Online. http://history.people.com.cn/n/2014/1124/c372327-26081466.html