A former Beijing party secretary who was jailed for corruption in 1998 remains adamant that it was political infighting that sent him to prison for seven years, according to a new book, reported Reuters.
In a Chinese language publication by Hong Kong’s New Century Media due to be released soon, former senior party official and Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong said in a series of interviews with former official and researcher Yao Jianfu, that he was not guilty for the crimes of corruption that saw him jailed in 1998. “This was the worst miscarriage of justice involving a high-level leader since the Cultural Revolution, or since 1989–it was an absurd miscarriage of justice,” Chen said in the book, according to an advanced copy obtained by Reuters.
“In a power struggle, any means possible—any low-handed means—will be used, and the objective is to seize power,” said Chen, a former Politburo member, about his fall from power.
Chen was the Mayor of Beijing at the time of the student protests, and was involved in ordering the armed crackdown.
Many China watchers believe it was factional fighting within the party that put Chen behind bars, with his factional rival Jiang Zemin, leader of a Shanghai-based clique of Party officials, a prime suspect. Jiang was the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1993 to 2003.
“I was not a participant in any of the power struggles, no matter what they may believe,” Chen told Yao.
In an editorial published in 2005, The Epoch Times said that under the cloak of an anti-corruption crusade, Jiang brought down Chen and his Beijing supporters in the mid-1990s. Among those imprisoned were secretaries of the Beijing Municipal authorities. Chen’s Deputy Mayor Wang Baosen was found dead, shot in the head. Authorities claimed he committed suicide, but others suspected foul play.
Chen was released in 2003 on medical parole, and the former Beijing mayor wrote a fifty-thousand-word plea letter accusing Jiang of persecuting him politically, and saying that he was the victim of a power struggle. He also accused Jiang and his sons of corruption.
The release of the book comes in the run-up to the anniversary of the June 4th Tiananmen Square Massacre. In the book, Chen denies using his access to then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to exaggerate the threat of the student protesters, saying that he was only a figurehead at that time.
The book also exposes information on scandals perpetrated by Jiang Zemin at a time when the Hu-Wen faction within the Party is preparing to depose Zhou Yongkang along with the Jiang faction he is a part of.
An Epoch Times editorial describes how the factional infighting between Jiang and Chen mark the beginnings of Jiang’s relationship with the recently disgraced Bo Xiali. Bo’s political power rapidly disintegrated after his former deputy Wang Lijun fled to a US consulate in Feb. this year.
The Reuters article by Benjamin Kang Lim and Chris Buckley drew parallels between the recent party infighting involving Bo Xiali’s scandal, and the infighting that placed Chen Xitong behind bars nearly 20 years ago, but did not point out how Jiang was a common key figure in both conflicts.
Epoch Times’ editorial stated that Bo’s father, Bo Yibo–a founding Party leader—had used a letter from Chen that denounced Jiang, to gain Jiang’s favor and persuade Jiang to fast-track his son into the Party hierarchy.
Bo’s rise within the ranks of the Party has largely been linked to Jiang, including his participation in the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual movement which began in 1999, initiated by Jiang.
According to some reports, following Wang’s attempt to seek asylum at the US consulate, Bo and security chief Zhou are believed to have been caught plotting to derail current Vice President Xi Jinping’s succession to become the next Party leader.
Reports have emerged recently that Bo, his wife Gu Kailai, and Wang Lijun could face trial by as early as June. Bo and his wife are suspected of killing British businessman Neil Heywood. Wang is facing trial for three charges: treason, serious corruption, and torture.
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