Resignation of Former Chinese Leader’s Son a Sign of Jiang Faction’s Waning Power: Experts

Resignation of Former Chinese Leader’s Son a Sign of Jiang Faction’s Waning Power: Experts
A paramilitary policeman stands guard at Beijing's Tiananmen Square during a plenary session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in the adjacent Great Hall of the People on March 7, 2009. (Feng Li/Getty Images)
Shawn Lin
News Analysis

Jiang Mianheng, eldest son of former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Jiang Zemin, reportedly resigned from his position as president of ShanghaiTech University and was appointed as chair of the university’s governing board last week. Experts, however, believe Jiang Mianheng did not resign, but rather was demoted as a result of the ongoing purge of his father’s faction.

In the year prior to his resignation, his domains of interest were already being systematically purged.

News of the appointment broke on June 5, when the university (STU) posted an announcement as well as a letter from Jiang Mianheng to all faculty, staff, and students announcing his resignation.

STU was jointly founded by the Shanghai municipal authority and the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Sept. 30, 2013. At that time, Jiang Mianheng was serving as vice president of the academy and head of its Shanghai branch. He was instrumental in the founding of STU and has served as its inaugural president ever since.

Current affairs commentator Chen Pokong believes that Jiang Mianheng, the child of an elite CCP leader, would not have resigned of his own accord, and that he must have been forced from his position.

The STU announcement said that Jiang Mianheng resigned “with the approval and consent of the Shanghai Municipal Government and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.” However, according to Mr. Chen, the Shanghai government could never have a say in determining the appointment or resignation of the children of CCP elites.

“There is only one person who can make the final decision on this matter, and that is Xi Jinping,” Mr. Chen said on his YouTube program. “Since Xi Jinping is not at ease with the children of all former leaders and political elders, he must take certain precautions to keep this group of people under control. In particular, the remnants of the Jiang faction have considerable influence and may pose some threat to Xi Jinping.”

According to Tang Jingyuan, a current affairs commentator, Jiang Mianheng’s demotion is a sign of his diminishing power in Shanghai.

“Jiang was stripped of more than just his position as president—not even an ‘honorary’ title was left to him,“ Mr. Tang said. ”He was ousted to a position [that is in reality] equivalent to that of a school affairs officer, or ‘housekeeper,’ effectively humiliating him at the hands of the current party leaders.

“Moreover, Jiang was ‘appointed’ and had no way to refuse. My guess is that he is in great trouble.”

In his resignation letter, Jiang Mianheng claimed that he would no longer serve as president because he had already completed two 10-year terms and turned 70 a few years ago.

According to Mr. Chen, Jiang Mianheng’s resignation letter may well be a satire on Xi, who has also completed two terms of office but has no intention of handing over his power to a successor.

Jiang Mianheng, 73, was once the director of the Shanghai Metallurgical Institute and also deputy commander of manned aerospace projects such as the Shenzhou 5.

As heirs to the notorious former CCP leader, the Jiang family and its henchmen, who are based in the international economic hub of Shanghai, took hold of the country’s top industries and military technology spanning aviation, telecommunications, finance, biological research, hospitals, transportation, sports, and many more.

Then-vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Jiang Mianheng, attends the CAS annual meeting in Beijing on March 19, 2007. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Then-vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Jiang Mianheng, attends the CAS annual meeting in Beijing on March 19, 2007. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
According to Mr. Tang, the current CCP leadership has long been eyeing the Jiang family clique and their astronomical wealth as a key target of the regime’s anti-corruption campaign. He added that he had learned from an exclusive source that Jiang Mianheng’s son, Jiang Zhicheng, was also under tight surveillance when he returned to Shanghai from overseas to attend the funeral of his kingpin grandfather, Jiang Zemin, who died on Nov. 30, 2022.

Extensive Purges

Jiang Mianheng is the legal representative of Shanghai Union Investment Company Ltd., a subsidiary of the Shanghai branch of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). The company’s investments span high-tech, aviation, telecommunications, finance, and various other areas. However, Jiang Mianheng’s interests in these areas have been extensively redistributed and purged over the past year.

On April 25, Chen Demei, a former vice president of the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., who had retired in 2023 after 11 years with the company, was taken away for investigation.

Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., founded by Jiang Zemin during his tenure, is a major site of interest for the Jiang family and the Shanghai gang. Jiang Mianheng was listed as a director of the company in an internal document dated March 2007.

Last November, Zhou Jun, president of the Shanghai Industrial Investment (Holding) Co. Ltd., was placed under investigation; he was then removed from his position in March. A subsidiary of Shanghai SASAC, Shanghai Industrial is involved in biomedicine, cultural industry, and financial investment and has several listed companies under its umbrella.

According to public releases from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), Bai Tinghui, Party chief and director of Shanghai SASAC, was arrested in September and charged in April with corruption in Shanghai’s transportation and urban construction system, an area with deep ties to the Jiang family.

“Bai’s fall may be linked to corruption in Shanghai’s transportation and urban construction system, of which Jiang Miankang, Jiang Zemin’s second son, is the de facto top man and biggest beneficiary,” China Affairs commentator Li Yanming told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times.

Recently, the CCDI announced that Lin Shoufu, deputy general manager of the ground services department of Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines Group, was under investigation. The group’s main hubs, Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, are operated by Shanghai Airport Group, where Jiang Mianheng is a board member.

According to public releases from the CCDI, at least 15 other Shanghai officials fell from grace from May 20 to June 4.

Fall of Sports Authority Director 

The sports sphere, which has offered fertile ground for profiteering by Jiang’s faction, is another area where Jiang’s power is being actively rooted out by the CCP leadership, as seen in the mass dismissal of senior sports officials.

According to an official state notice, Gou Zhongwen, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, was arrested on May 30. Mr. Gou was also the director of the General Administration of Sport and the president of the Olympic Committee.

The 67-year-old was originally a technical official who worked at the Ministry of Machinery and Electronic Industry, the Ministry of Electronics Industry, and the Ministry of Information Industry before he suddenly ascended to become the vice mayor of Beijing in 2008 and then became the head of the sports administration in 2016.

Mr. Li believes that Mr. Gou’s political rise was linked to Jiang Zemin; within political circles, he was known as Jiang’s agent in the kingdom of sports corruption.

The party’s disciplinary supervisor targeted the ministerial-level official as early as last March.

Last year, several of Mr. Guo’s subordinates were removed and placed under investigation for “serious breaches of discipline and the law” in the sports sector, including Cao Weidong, party secretary of Beijing Sport University; Liu Aijie, former chairman of the China Rowing Association; Hu Guangyu, deputy director of the Political and Legal Department of the General Administration of Sport of China; and Chen Yingbiao, who was in charge of the Chinese women’s soccer team for many years.

Jiang Absent From Important Occasions Since May

Before his change in position, Jiang Mianheng was notably absent from several important events.

On June 1, Shanghai Vice Mayor Xie Dong visited STU for an inspection. The university’s party chief, Li Ruxin, and deputy party chief, Wu Qiang, attended, but Jiang Mianheng was not present. This was a marked change from the previous year, when Jiang Mianheng personally accompanied Mr. Xie during his inspection of the university.

Jiang Mianheng was also absent from May 28 to 29 when Grenoble INP President Vivien Quema and Vice President for International Affairs Lorena Anghel visited STU for bilateral exchanges.

A previous state media report indicated that Jiang Mianheng was present for other significant visits, such as those by Teng Jin Guang, president of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, on April 12; Stephen Spinelli, president of Babson College, in November; and Feridun Hamdullahpur, president of the University of Waterloo, in December 2019.

Shawn Lin is a Chinese expatriate living in New Zealand. He has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2009, with a focus on China-related topics.
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