Senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi recently missed a major appointment to become a vice premier—signaling that the faction Yang belonged to, the faction loyal to former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin—is further waning in power. The Jiang faction makes up the main opposition force to current leader Xi Jinping.
But a recent Hong Kong media report revealed that factional battles are still playing out among the Party’s foreign affairs officials.
Hong Kong’s Frontline Magazine reported in its April issue that individuals in the faction that current Foreign Minister Wang Yi belongs to once reported Yang Jiechi to top Party authorities for faking his academic credentials. Wang was also outed by someone in the Party for the same misdeed.
The Party has an internal complaint system where cadres can anonymously report misbehavior to the central authorities. According to Frontline Magazine’s report, as early as a decade ago, officials within the Chinese Communist Party’s diplomacy circle were reported to have countless issues of violating laws while stationed in other countries. Diplomats engaged in extramarital affairs, violated diplomatic protocol, and engaged in other unscrupulous behavior.
In recent years, Chinese diplomatic officials used mailbags to smuggle illegal goods, used diplomatic privilege to gain immunity for crimes, misappropriated or embezzled public funds, used public funds to give high bonuses to themselves, privately obtained permanent residency or citizenship in the countries they worked in, defected while taking along confidential documents, or were bribed into becoming spies for other countries, and so on.
In addition, descendants of the Party’s high ranking officials have occupied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Due to nepotism, no one dares to discipline them, the report said. They make the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which already had many factions operating within in, even more complicated.
The Party’s diplomats are also divided by factions based on the universities they attended.
Frontline Magazine revealed that certain individuals from the Beijing International Studies University—a well-known school for training diplomats, and also Wang Yi’s alma mater—wrote a letter to the Politburo, a 25-member group of elite Party members at the top leadership. The letter exposed that Yang’s doctorate in history was made up.
The complaint said Yang was a graduate student at the world history department of Nanjing University, but he did not graduate with a doctorate. The faction of Beijing International Studies University alumni—which counts Wang Yi as its leader—also reported that Yang was derelict in his duties as a diplomat. In his office, he often watched Western movies and television shows, including romance films and pornography.
Before the complaint against Yang, someone reported that Wang Yi’s master’s degree in economics from Nankai University and doctorate in international relations from China Foreign Affairs University were false. He did not go through systematic and comprehensive study, but did remote study while working as a diplomat.
Yang has a long diplomatic career. He worked in the United States for 12 years. He served as Chinese ambassador to the United States from 2001 to 2005; then he served as vice minister of foreign affairs and foreign minister between 2005 and 2013. He then served within the State Council and became director of the Foreign Affairs Office.
In his career, Yang spent much effort slandering Falun Gong, an ancient meditation practice based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin believed the practice’s teachings were a threat to the Party’s authority, especially since there were up to 100 million adherents, according to Western media outlets quoting Chinese regime officials. In July 1999 he launched a campaign to eradicate the practice.
Because of Yang’s participation in carrying out Jiang’s campaign, The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) has named Yang as a perpetrator of the persecution.
On August 22, 2001, 10 American Falun Gong practitioners went on hunger strike outside of the Chinese embassy in Washington D.C. to support the actions of 130 Falun Gong practitioners detained at the Masanjia Labor Camp in China, who went on a hunger strike for four weeks to protest the persecution they endured, according to a report by WOIPFG. The American practitioners requested a dialogue with then-Chinese ambassador to the U.S., Yang Jiechi, but their petition letter was thrown out by embassy staff seven times. Embassy officials told the practitioners, “No one will care about you even if you’re starving to death…”
In 2002, when U.S. adherents of Falun Gong filed a lawsuit against Jiang for genocide and crimes against humanity, Yang began reaching out to U.S. politicians, pressuring them not to voice public support for the case.
Yang summed up his diplomatic achievements in a September 2008 article published in Qiushi, the CCP’s political journal, touting his success in “preventing and containing Falun Gong.”
Hong Kong’s Cheng Ming Magazine reported in its January issue that in 2014, Yang had sought to resign from office, submitting a ‘self-inspection’ to the high-level Central Committee, admitting that he had indulged in corruption.