The selection of new members on China’s powerful Politburo Standing Committee, to be finalized at the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Central Committee this fall, is already in progress. Having made good use of recent political scandals to eliminate their political enemies, leaders Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao are now in a position to choose the Standing Committee members and cement their own future power bases.
Seven of the nine seats are up for grabs on the Politburo Standing Committee, which runs the country. Owing to the Bo Xilai scandal, both Bo and his mentor Zhou Yongkang, who has to retire from the Committee, can no longer exert their influence on the Standing Committee as representatives of the Jiang Zemin faction. Zhou Yongkang, the head or former head of domestic security forces, is said to be under internal investigation.
Observers say that the selection of candidates for the 18th Party Congress is now largely dependent upon the leadership of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, who have the centralized power to appoint members to the core leadership on the Standing Committee.
Two likely candidates are Hu Jintao’s cabinet member Ling Jihua and Hu Chunhua, the first Secretary of the Central Committee of the communist Youth League.
In September 2007, Ling Jihua was appointed to the position of department head of the Central Administration Office, and officially became the first staff director in Hu Jintao’s cabinet, taking charge of the nerve center of the Communist Party administration office.
According to reports, Ling has been following Hu’s leadership for the past several decades. On Hu’s recent visits abroad, Ling accompanied him. Ling was also on the list of members to attend important meetings and activities with Hu.
After the Bo Xilai scandal in Chongqing began to unfold, Ling followed the direct order from Hu Jintao and implemented the removal of Bo from office. Under the command of Ling, Bo was transferred to Beidaihe for detainment. When Bo was charged, Ling was present.
Candidates for the Central Committee have long been chosen according to their close relationships with senior communist Party officials. Analysts therefore surmise that Hu Jintao puts much trust in Ling Jihua.
A number of Chinese overseas media have quoted sources as saying that Ling is not only Hu’s most reliable secretary, he also has an intimate personal relationship with Hu. Under China’s current political structure, any private affair between Hu and Ling is a matter of state concern. Therefore, whether it is a family issue or a state matter, Ling’s responsibility in assisting Hu with his affairs is first and foremost. According to the logic of political circles in China, Ling is Hu’s mouthpiece.
Prior to the opening of the 16th Congress in 2002, Zeng Qinghong was appointed as Secretary of the Central Committee, the then-alternate office to the Standing Committee.
Many people have doubts about Ling Jihua’s leadership qualification because of his lack of experience. But some analysts are of the opinion that experience is just one issue that only takes effect in the intermediate level of bureaucracy. At the highest level, power dynamics between different party factions are the determining factor.
When Ling entered the circle of the Standing Committee, he wasn’t given the title “alternate member.” Therefore, the problem of lacking experience is not the key issue in Ling’s case. As long as Hu Jintao can clear away the hurdles of opposing viewpoints, this is not a problem.
Hu Chunhua, also known as “little Hu Jintao,” is Secretary of the Party Committee in the Mongolian Autonomous Region. Hu is said to be Ling Jihua’s greatest competitor, and according to China analysts, he will probably become one of the core members of the sixth generation leadership.
Hu Chunhua has worked in the Communist Youth League in Tibet and the Mongolian Autonomous Region, and was also involved in resource economic development at the time he was serving the terms of office. This experience gives him a competitive edge in the leadership succession.
In November 2006, when Hu Chunhua took over the position as head of the Central Committee of the Youth League, there was talk in the media that the special nurture of Hu Chunhua made him a likely candidate in the cross-generational leadership succession from the “princelings” to the Youth League members.
But Hu Chunhua was made a target of castigation for his performance as provincial governor at the time of several tragic events, including a massive mine disaster and the Sanlu toxic milk powder scandal, making him lose his edge in the top power circle.
Read the original Chinese article.
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