|Communist Party goes
By Antoaneta Bezlova
BEIJING - China's Communist Party - the world's
largest political movement, with 66 million members -
has bid to cast off its harsh image as a revolutionary
party committed to violent class struggle in favour of
the more mellow image of a conventional ruling party.
At its week-long congress that ended on Friday,
the Party redefined itself from the "revolutionary
vanguard of the proletariat" to a representative party
of the whole nation, embracing capitalists - the class
enemies it loathed in the past - and electing a younger
generation of leaders.
Hu Jintao, 59, an
enigmatic party apparatchik who, under the outgoing
party chief Jiang Zemin was deputy general secretary and
vice president, heads the new party leadership.
The Politburo Standing Committee, China's
highest ruling body, was expanded from seven to nine
members, all men in their 50s and early 60s who are
deeply committed to turning China into an aggressive,
high-technology market economy.
their elders for their manifested zeal in keeping the
Communist Party in power, the new leaders pledged to
adhere to Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong thought and Deng
Xiaoping theory for "a long time to come".
added new party chief Hu Jintao, the new leadership will
also work hard to "project a fine image of a party that
advances with its times".
Although he is not
ranked alongside the late paramount leaders Mao and
Deng, whose ideas have already been enshrined in the
party constitution, outgoing Communist Party chief Jiang
is credited with fostering that "fine image" by
introducing his "Theory of the Three Represents".
Jiang's theory means that the Party now formally
welcomes not only workers, farmers, soldiers and
intellectuals but also "any advanced element of other
social strata", clearly referring to the emerging forces
of private businessmen, professionals and other social
The change in ideology was sealed on the
last day of the congress, when more than 2,000 delegates
voted in favor of changing the party constitution to
accommodate Jiang's theory - a clear sign that the
Chinese Communist Party finally sees itself as a party
in power as opposed to a revolutionary party.
ruling party has different goals than a revolutionary
party," said Wang Changjiang, a professor of party
building at the Central Chinese Communist Party School.
"A revolutionary party fights to seize power by violent
means while a ruling party has to find the best way of
using this power."
There are other differences
too, argued Hu Wei, a political scientist at the
Shanghai Jiaotong University. "Class enemies play an
important role in the ideology of the revolutionary
party, but almost none in the ideology of the ruling
party. Quite opposite, a ruling party strives to
emphasize harmony and cooperation between different
classes of the country," Hu explained.
some Chinese pundits are grappling to present the
current transfer of power as a watershed for the
Communist Party in the new century, other watchers are
hunting for clues on whether the change in the
leadership faces is anything more than just a
generational change for the same old party. "As long as
there is no political reform, there is no real political
change," said one Western diplomat here.
uncertain whether the retiring generation of leaders
will form a National Security Council - a secretive
ruling council that could influence party decisions
behind the scenes and may try to block any chance for
genuine political reform.
Hu Jintao is not
Jiang's candidate for successor, but had been selected
by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to take over
eventually. Jiang has actually been promoting his own
protege, Zeng Qinghong, who emerged as No 5 in the new
An earlier report by the
influential International Institute for Strategic
Studies in London asserted that the presence of Jiang's
protege in the politburo would serve to circumvent Hu's
rule. "China is therefore entering a period of
heightened political instability," the think-tank said
in its annual strategic survey.
the power-jockeying even further, Jiang has opted to
retain his key position as chairman of the powerful
Central Military Commission, a post that Deng Xiaoping
held on to after he had given up his other formal
Jiang remains as China's head of the
state until March, when the National People's Congress
or parliament meets to vote on government posts.
Retiring with Jiang are five other elder leaders,
including the hardliner Li Peng, much hated for his
decision to dispatch tanks against the unarmed students
in 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests, and the
no-nonsense premier Zhu Rongji, respected for his
ambitious drive that finally brought China into the
World Trade Organization last year.
In with the
new leaders are mainly technocrats, bureaucrats and a
few local party officials who have excelled in their
respective provinces. Among them are Vice Premier Wu
Bangguo, who emerged as No 2 and is expected to take
over the chairmanship of the National People's Congress
from Li Peng, and Vice Premier Wen Jiabao, third in
line, who will probably take over the premiership from
Zhu Rongji in March.
Little is known about the
new party chief Hu, who has been at the peak of China's
political power for 10 years but revealed few of his
true political colors. An engineering graduate from the
prestigious Qinghua University, he stayed on as a
political instructor during the violent political
clashes that took place there during the Cultural
Revolution (1966-76) but fought against the radicals.
He served in poor Gansu province and troubled
Tibet before being promoted to the party politburo in
1992. He was party secretary in Tibet in 1989 when
soldiers opened fire on Tibetans protesting against
Chinese rule. Hu became vice president in 1998 and was
named Jiang's deputy chairman the next year on the
Central Military Commission that controls the army.
Hu's rise is credited to his ability to keep a
low profile and avoid political infighting behind the
scenes. However, his ascendance to power means he will
have to abandon his humble ways and grapple with some
tough political choices in the next five years.
(Inter Press Service)