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Mr. Gao Wenqian, recently, mainland Chinese media used
the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's
1992 southern tour to bring out two things that he said
during the tour to hint at what is happening now.
According to the Southern Daily, two things that Deng said
during the tour were left out of the reporting at the time.
One was, "Don't make political movements, and don't engage in formalism;
leaders have to be clear-headed and not let these things affect our work."
The other was, "When you get old, you need to know when to step down,
otherwise you can make mistakes. . . . We old-timers should step down
and devote ourselves to helping the young people take the stage."
It seems that there's more to it than meets the eye,
and it has attracted a good deal of interest.
Do you have any comment on this?
For me, this indicates that the power struggle
within the Party in advance of the 18th Party Congress has turned white hot.
The countdown to the 18th Party Congress has started,
and various factions are now in hand-to-hand combat,
resorting to all sorts of weapons to try to overpower their opponents
and get the upper-hand in the power transition.
My view is that Deng's words are a double-edged sword that can
smash others as well as hurt oneself--there can be no winner.
Regardless of which Party faction it was that brought out these words,
I am afraid the repercussion may go far beyond what was intended.
Just who will be hurt by Deng's words in the end
is still too early to tell.
I say this because Deng Xiaoping's speeches during his southern tour
were directed at the central leaders at the time:
Jiang Zemin and Li Peng.
Deng was very unhappy with them for shelving reform
after the June Fourth crackdown,
and because of their "ant-peaceful evolution" approach.
Thus, possibly, it is the people in the Hu Jintao faction
who brought out these words:
they are unhappy about Jiang interfering
in the 18th Party Congress power transition despite his retirement,
and used Deng to strike at an "old man meddling in politics."
But on the other hand,
I think Deng's criticism --"Don't make political movements,
and don't engage in formalism"-- can also
be read as a strike at Hu Jintao,
for his lack of accomplishments since coming to office,
his "empty talk," and his ten years of idling.
Deng Xiaoping's "... old-timers should step down and devote ourselves to helping the young people take the stage" talk
is also artillery for the Jiang faction to force
Hu to relinquish all his positions during the 18th Party Congress--
including chairmanship of the Military Commission--
thus supporting Xi Jinping's comprehensive succession.
As I see it, what is even more noteworthy
is what the attack implies about the political fight behind the scenes.
That is, the infighting surrounding the power transition
is so fierce and hard to settle
that one could only use "the dead to crush the living"--
use what remains of Deng Xiaoping's cachet to suppress one's opponents.
Because Deng's words are too explicit
a hint of what is happening right now,
I see that some of the contents--
such as "When you get old, you need to know..."--
were deleted from the Southern newspaper group's website.
I'd like to stress one more point:
media outlets friendly with the Chinese authorities
have been "leaking" that the outcome of
the 18th Party Congress is a "foregone conclusion."
In fact, apart from Xi Jinping succeeding Hu
as General Secretary of the CPC, everything else remains uncertain,
and the power struggle within the Party is unprecedentedly intense.
The latest development is that *** Lijun,
the "crime-fighting hero" and a trusted aide of Bo Xilai (believed to be an emerging leader),
has been dismissed as the head of
the Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Public Security.
I feel that it is precisely because there are so many
uncertain factors that the central authorities--
deviating from conventional practice--announced that
the 18th Party Congress will be convened
"in the second half of the year,"
as opposed to the more precise timeframe of autumn,
so as to allow for more time for the various factions to settle.
The last point I want to make is that to prevent
internal power struggles from getting out of control,
causing an explosion of social conflicts,
the central authorities have recently adopted harsh measures
to "clean house" in advance of the 18th Party Congress,
subjecting civil society activists to heavy sentences, detentions, and questioning.
The dissident writer Yu Jie,
who recently came to the United States in self-imposed exile,
revealed the "bury alive" talk amongvthe state security forces
"these two words have become the hottest buzzwords on the Chinese Internet,
laying bare the mentality of those in power facing the end of their reign.
The drama of the power struggle surrounding
the 18th Party Congress is still unfolding.
Let's wait and see.