Signs are growing that the intensifying party purge in China will claim one of Jiang Zemin’s close aides. The Financial Times:
For centuries Chinese politicians have used abstruse historical allegory to attack rivals without confronting them directly.So when China’s top anti-corruption authority published an article on Wednesday afternoon detailing the evil deeds of “Prince Qing”, the internet went into overdrive with theories over who the real target could be.
By far the most popular guess is Zeng Qinghong, vice-president of China until 2008, right-hand man to former President Jiang Zemin and one of the most powerful politicians of modern China.
Bo Xilai couldn’t have done any better—or reached higher.The underlying problem is the old system of collective leadership in China—in which the top leaders left each other alone and nobody had too much power—was put in to restrain central power after Mao’s terrifying abuses. However, with all the top leaders and their closest aides more-or-less immune from prosecution, corruption at the highest levels became entrenched.This, as Xi appears to have grasped, created both a danger and an opportunity. The danger is that the corruption could undermine the party’s legitimacy while also ultimately destroying its ability to provide the technocratic governance and guidance that has helped China prosper. The opportunity was that by wrapping himself in the mantle of anti-corruption, Xi could consolidate unprecedented power in his hands with the applause of the nation.And so we see what we see: Xi is very much in charge, the purge is continuing, and power in China is increasingly concentrated in the hands of one man. Let’s hope he’s a nice guy.