Xi threatened from within Beijing
By Paul Lin 林保華

In autumn next year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is to convene its 19th National Congress, at which the party’s next set of leaders is to be determined. The internal power struggle is already in full swing. In January, confidantes of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) tried to assess the possibility that he would be able to establish a core of leaders around himself. The results were disappointing and might mark the beginning of Xi’s fall from power.

The joint meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which ended yesterday in Beijing, cannot hide this fact.

When it opened on March 3, the China Military Online Web site published an article criticizing the “cliqueism” of Liu Bei (劉備), a warlord during the late Eastern Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms period in ancient China. It would appear that the word “clique” could be used to label any faction, but the article clearly points directly to Xi.

In the morning of March 4, Watching, an Internet media outlet that both the Xinjiang Province Government and Alibaba have invested in, published an Open Letter Regarding the Demand that Comrade Xi Jinping Resign His Posts as Leader of the Party and the Nation, saying that he is responsible for both the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) return to power and the rise of independence demands in Hong Kong. This was later blamed on hackers.

On March 5, when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) left the podium after having delivered his economic report, as usual to the applause of the gathered representatives, he was expected to have shaken hands with Xi before sitting down, but this time he did not, nor did Xi applaud following Li’s report.

Not only has Xi deprived Li of his economic powers, following last year’s massive explosions in Tianjin, when Li wanted to let the Tianjin acting party secretary and mayor Huang Xingguo (黃興國) go, Xi allowed Huang to remain in his posts because he had worked under Xi during Xi’s time in Zhejiang Province. Now that he has been speaking in flattering terms about the “Xi core,” Huang has become a favorite for inclusion in the “Xi core.”

The powerful Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Secretary Wang Qishan (王岐山) also behaved in unexpected ways at the meeting.

When the NPC and the CPPCC meeting came to a close on March 3, Wang took a few quick steps to catch up with Xi while talking to him continuously and he was still talking as they were stepping off the chairman’s podium. Wang has access to Xi whenever he wants, so something urgent must have happened for him to pursue Xi in this manner.

Two weeks before the NPC-CPPCC meeting, when Xi visited a central government media outlet, he said that the media belong to the party. That has been interpreted by observers as a conflict between the Office of the Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs, which Xi controls, and the Publicity Department of the CCP’s Central Committee, which is led by Liu Yunshan (劉雲山).

There are widespread rumors that Liu’s son, financial big shot Liu Lefei (劉樂飛), was suspended from his duties following last year’s stock market disaster, and the Publicity Department is digging a hole for Xi by giving particular attention to his leftist discourse.

The unity between Xi and Wang is not rock solid. The arrest of veteran reporter Gao Yu (高瑜) displeased Wang, and Gao’s sentence was later reduced and she was released on medical parole. When, nine years ago, the well-known business editor and business magazine Caijing founder Hu Shuli (胡舒立) revealed in his magazine that the sons of then-Chinese vice president Zeng Qinghong (曾慶紅), then-secretary of the CCP’s Shanghai branch Yu Zhensheng (俞振聲) and then-Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Lequan (王樂泉) were involved in major corruption cases, he did so with Wang Qishan’s support.

Hu and his team were later forced out of Caijing and instead took their battle to That Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) recently silently acquired a stake in Caixin just makes things even more complex.

There are innumerable examples of internal information about Xi’s political, economic, military and diplomatic problems. One could say that if the “Xi leadership core” were to collapse, so would the CCP.

If each Chinese province were to become autonomous and care only for themselves, that would cause the central government to disintegrate, and that really could be the beginning of democracy in China.

Taiwan should gain an understanding of the changes going on in China and produce appropriate policies in response. We should not believe that Xi would start a war against Taiwan, because the military is the most unstable of all.

Paul Lin is a political commentator.

Translated by Perry Svensson


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