Source Pravda.Ru

Volte-face

Hydroenergetics engineer to become Chinese leader
Changes in the Chinese government are currently the topic of the day on the international scene. And no wonder that the problem draws such attention of the world: China is gaining a more and more important role in the world. The changes in the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party were not very unexpected as well.

China’s political life, at least under present-day conditions, is remarkable for its unpredictability. It was announced already several years before the 16th All-China Congress of the Communist Party that a new staff of the Party’s Central Committee would be elected at the congress. The most probable candidate to the post of the Communist Party Secretary General, Chinese Vice-President Hu Jintao. was also known long ago. Officially, Hu Jintao isn’t secretary general yet. It is expected that he will be officially elected leader of the Communist Party at the first plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party of the 16th convocation, which is to be held within the next few days.

The press, especially western papers, have published much for the several past months about the tense struggle in the Chinese Communist leadership for the candidature of Jiang Zemin’s successor. However, nobody could explain in detail what issue the struggle was about. It was only mentioned that the struggle was between the liberals and the conservatives. Hu Jintao, 59, is considered a representative of the liberal wing of the Chinese Communist Party; he actively supports the continuation of the market reforms. However, we can speak about liberalism in China only conventionally. And there are considerable reasons for it.

Hu Jintao is not well known outside China. He was born in the eastern province of Anhui; he joined the Communist Party in 1964, while a student of China’s best higher education institution, Jinhua Polytechnic University in Beijing. He is a hydroenergetics engineer by profession. He graduated from the university before the Cultural Revolution began. That is how the promoted representative of “the strong forces” became a young member of the Communist Party after the chaos of the “revolution” in 1982. Hu Jintao held the secretarial post in the Komsomol Committee in the province of Gansu; then he became the leader of the All-Chinese Youth Federation.

Hu Jintao proved himself a good worker at the above mentioned posts. At the end of 1988, he was sent to Tibet, where anti-China protests were especially active at that time. Foreign observers spoke about some kind of progress: indeed, the Chinese leadership sent not a military, but a civil official to settle the problems in Tibet. Nevertheless, Hu Jintao was rather strict with the separatists in Tibet, and by doing so, he showed his patrons in Beijing that he was steadfast and goal-seeking.

In 1992, Hu Jintao returned to Beijing, where he became a member of the Communist Party political bureau, and later entered the Bureau’s standing committee, the inner sanctum of the Chinese politics. In March 1998, Hu Jintao was appointed vice-president of China, the second important man in the country.

However, politicians of the world had no chance to get acquainted with the successor to Jiang Zemin immediately. Hu Jintao made his first official visit abroad in autumn of 2001 only; he visited Moscow and the capitals of other European countries. He visited the USA in the spring of 2002. However, it was not a very suitable moment for the trip, as a new stage of the US-China conflict over Taiwan started exactly during that period. It is quite natural that Hu Jintao couldn’t make rather harsh statements concerning the problem. However, in other respects, the visit was a success.

The changes in the Chinese leadership don’t mean that China has radically changed its position concerning very important problems: Taiwan, Tibet, and the Uigur separatists. It is certain that the previously followed strict policy of the country concerning these issues will be kept up. As for economic reforms, they are undoubtedly to be continued as well. And the new Chinese leadership will likely try to keep up and strengthen relations with the USA in this sphere. However, Washington shouldn’t expect that Beijing will now be easier to deal with. After all, Jiang Zemin will obviously retain his influence on the new leadership, the same way Deng Xiaoping did many years ago.

Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2002/5/15/42/2961_China.html

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