Beijing, Nov. 14: All the world’s a stage, they knew this time, and played out their parts before lights and camera.
The Chinese Communist Party’s show of a smooth succession had a grand finale here this morning. In an unprecedented gesture of showmanship, the outgoing leader Jiang Zemin had the 2,100-strong delegates vote his testament into a new party constitution in full glare of the world media.
The supposedly secret ballot cast before cameras, hands raised in approval of Jiang’s political report which was passed unanimously. Followed by much clapping of hands and finally the military band playing the International before the leaders walk off the stage to ring the curtain down.
Even if one knew this was a stage-managed show scripted by a caucus, there was no missing the message in the medium.
The message Jiang and his successors wanted to give to the world, according to longtime China-watchers,was: China isn’t as unpredictable as before; so Jiang and his men have all stepped out of power, as anticipated by the world; only Hu Jintao stays on the central commmittee to be elected leader at its first plenum tomorrow, again fitting the world’s expectations.
So it’s there for everyone (read the United States and other powers) to see that China’s politics remains stable and the ruling party united and that the policy directives stay clear and reformist. so don’t worry about the leadership change and keep coming with your money to China.
Some would argue, though, that the play indeed is the thing. The party, they say, is so starved of ideology that there are no more ideological or factional fights. “The fights now are for power,” says a Western observer, “and these are fought and won on other platforms.”
Results of some of these fights would be known tomorrow when the ceremonial takeover of leadership happens. It’s the seven-member standing committee of the politburo which really is the centre of all power. When the new 356-member central committee was announced today, there was one surprise, though.
Li Ruihan, whom some analysts had expected to be the number two man as the chairman of the next People’s Congress,also dropped out of the central committee. Which means he too is out of power. The world now knows Hu is the new leader. Tomorrow is the time to know about Hu’s who —his new team.