| Russian dolls portray the Chinese pantheon from Sun Yat-Sen to Jiang Zemin. (Reuters)
Beijing, Nov. 13: Is he or isn’t he finally quitting the Chinese political stage after striding it, even if not exactly as a colossus like Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping, for 13 long years'
The buzz here this evening — on the eve of tomorrow’s conclusion of the Chinese communist party congress — is that he is. Officially, though, the world gets to know only tomorrow.
There has been intense speculation inside and outside China on whether Jiang Zemin and his generation do really hand over the baton to the country’s new — and younger — leaders.
There were also doubts if he will continue to be in control from behind the scenes as chairman of the all-important central military commission, even if he resigns from the posts of president and party general secretary.
While the world has to wait until tomorrow to be able to sift fact from rumour, one thing is certain — Jiang has joined Mao and Deng in the Chinese pantheon of heroes of modern China.
This is to be formalised by the party changing its constitution to give an honourable place to Jiang’s Three Represents. It means that the party has accepted his proposal to broaden its base and change its character by incorporating new classes, other than workers and peasants, among its members. In other words, it displaces workers from their pride of place as the “vanguard of the people”.
Leader after leader, who spoke to the press during the congress, almost chanted the Three Represents as the new mantra of the Chinese party.
If further proof was needed, Zhang Zhimming, a leading party ideologue and an acknowledged expert on the party’s history, gave it today.
“The Three Represents,” he said, “has become the party’s mission statement. It will help the party relate itself with the productive forces unleashed by economic reform.”
According to him, it will serve “as the most important guideline for the next 20 years”.
Another leading party light, Xie Chuntao, who is deputy director of the Central Party School’s history studies department, highlighted Jiang’s significant changes in theory. “As the ruling party in a socialist country, the CPC could not represent the interest of a single class only.”
At the same time, he wrote in an article in China Daily, “whichever strata they are from, the new members must subscribe to the party’s programme and charter, and work for the party line”.
Unlike the archaic and unimportant party school of the CPM in Bengal, the central party school is no small thing here. After all, Hu Jintao, the man who is set to succeed Jiang, was given charge of the party school after the momentous pro-democracy movement on Tiananmen Square in 1989.