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November 15, 2012


nick s

Any thoughts on Jiang Zemin showing up (non-dead) for the Big Shit Cake, and whether his presence was meant to cement the emergence of the princelings?


I remember when the line on Jiang was that he was a stopgap ruler and general lickspittle appointed by Deng to stabilise things after Tiananmen: Jonathan Fenby was still coming out with this a few years back. Anyway, once he was gone a new era of reform was supposed to dawn under the charismatic, forceful and yet secretly democratic rule of Hu Jintao. Jiang was also thought of as a bit of a buffoon, on the evidence of his behaviour in public.

It’s certainly true that Hu slowly but steadily crushed Jiang’s faction over the years 2002-7, but that was the Shanghai Gang, not the Princelings. Anyway, he was supposed to have died around this time, according to rumours that persisted until they suddenly exploded last year, at which point the government was accused of hushing up his death.

Now he’s risen from the dead and is the grey eminence of the Princelings who have put paid to Hu’s desire to go on wielding power behind the scenes in the manner Jiang just did, which leaves aside the fact that all this was pretty much slated to happen back in 2007, when the Xi/Li slate was first announced. So far as I can see, the Congress has pretty much gone to plan, which is why I tend to think that stepping down from the CMC was Hu’s own initiative.

Leaving aside the whole are-the-Princelings-a-faction issue, I think Jiang just gets called up to fill in for unknown unknowns in any given analysis of China’s leadership. So maybe he is a kind of stopgap.

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