Media Indirectly Reveals Infighting Within Chinese Communist Party Leadership

August 19, 2020 Updated: August 20, 2020

Commentary

Following U.S. sanctions on 11 officials in China and Hong Kong, the internal fighting within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) surrounding corruption allegations became public.

At a time when struggles among factions of the CCP were heated at the Beidaihe meeting this month, The New York Times published an article that exposed the wealth of Party leader Xi Jinping and his allies in Hong Kong. However, it is interesting to note that former leader Jiang Zemin and his faction were not mentioned in the report.

Every summer, Party factions conduct informal negotiations, discuss major national policies, and finalize decisions while meeting in the northern resort town of Beidaihe, although details are kept secret.

Jiang Zemin’s Faction Is Missing From The New York Times Report

On Aug. 12, The New York Times’ investigative report, headlined “Luxury Homes Tie Chinese Communist Elite to Hong Kong’s Fate,” gave the exact name, date, and cost of the Hong Kong villas owned by Xi Jinping, Li Zhanshu, and Wang Yang, three members the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, the nation’s top decision-making body. Even though it’s a new report on an old story, its publication at this sensitive time has raised some suspicions.

The report indirectly showed a strict division of camps. The current Politburo Standing Committee members of Xi’s core camp were deliberately exposed, whereas the Standing Committee members belonging to Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong’s camp were not mentioned, including Han Zheng and Zhao Leji.

Zeng Qinghong is a retired top official belonging to Jiang’s faction. He took office as head of the first Hong Kong and Macau Affairs work team in 2003. At that time, Zeng was the fifth-highest ranking member in the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party’s Politburo.

Previously, Vice Premier Han Zheng, the most senior Chinese official directly in charge of Hong Kong affairs and member of the Politburo Standing Committee, was believed to be at the top of the U.S. sanction list before it was made public. There were numerous online reports saying that Han’s hidden assets overseas may amount to over $3.1 billion. His wife, Wan Ming, owns seven percent of Greenland Holding Group. Their daughter, Han Xue, is a naturalized citizen of Australia and controller of the Australian subsidiary of Greenland Group. Han’s mistress was said to have lived in Australia for a long time and to own investments in Australia. However, there has been no relevant report verifying the details.

However, Chinese reports in the mainland highlighted corruption among Jiang’s faction.

Jiang Zemin’s Faction Implicated in Chinese Media

On Aug. 10, the regime’s mouthpiece Global Times reported that Ma Shaowei, the “invisible richest man” of China northwest Qinghai Province, was accused of earning over 10 billion yuan (more than $1.4 billion) from illegal coal mining in the past 14 years.

“For 14 years, the Qinghai Xingqing Industry & Trade Engineering Group Corporation, a private enterprise headquartered in Qinghai, has been suspected of illegally mining more than 26 million tons of coal in the Juhugeng coal mine in the Muli mining area, raking in more than 10 billion yuan (about $1.43 billion),” the report said.

According to the report, two departmental-level officials were fired and are under investigation. The police are using criminal coercive measures against Ma, who is also the chairman of Qinghai Xingqing Industry & Trade Engineering Group Corporation.

Obviously, the provincial party and government leaders in Qinghai can’t shirk their roles in allowing such illegal acts to exist for the past 14 years. The case is believed to clearly imply the involvement of  Zhao Leji, who is part of Jiang’s faction and is currently the secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Party’s internal watchdog. Zhao is a native of Qinghai and started his political career in the province in 1975, and became the provincial party committee secretary and governor in 2003.

A report by South China Morning Post on Aug. 11 said Lai Xiaomin, the former head of China Huarong Asset Management, pleaded guilty to accepting 1.79 billion yuan ($257.7 million) in bribes over a period of 10 years. It is the highest officially reported amount of money accumulated by a corrupt official announced by the CCP.

After Lai was charged with bribery, corruption, and bigamy in February 2019, people asked who was behind him acting as a protective umbrella. The Chinese media reported that he owned “three-100s”—which refers to 100 villas, 100 mistresses, and 100 connections.

Holding key positions at the China Banking Regulatory Commission and the Beijing Banking Regulatory Bureau, Lai was known to have sent huge amounts of benefits to powerful families, such as Zeng Qinghong and Jiang Zemin, through China Huarong. Lai has been a key figure in the business community of Zeng’s forces in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Interestingly, most of the retired senior officials in Jiang and Zeng’s camp were not affected by Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. They have operated for many years in Hong Kong, the United States, other western countries, and own enormous overseas assets. If U.S.-China relations continue to deteriorate, the greatest threat would be to Jiang and Zeng’s assets overseas and in Hong Kong. This may be one of the main focuses of the CCP’s current internal struggle.

Yang Wei has been closely following China affairs for many years. He has been contributing political commentary on China for the Chinese language Epoch Times since 2019.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.