Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin—Chapter 9

Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin—Chapter 9
(Luis Novaes/Epoch Times)

Jiang Zemin’s days are numbered. It is only a question of when, not if, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party will be arrested. Jiang officially ran the Chinese regime for more than a decade, and for another decade he was the puppet master behind the scenes who often controlled events. During those decades Jiang did incalculable damage to China. At this moment when Jiang’s era is about to end, Epoch Times here republishes in serial form “Anything for Power: The Real Story of Jiang Zemin,” first published in English in 2011. The reader can come to understand better the career of this pivotal figure in today’s China.

The full series is available here

Chapter 9: With Deng Dead and Qiao Stepping Down, an Elated Jiang Becomes the True Autocrat (1997)

1. Deng Xiaoping’s Death

1997 was a year of great political importance for the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Back in December 1993, Deng Xiaoping made an appearance at the Yangpu Bridge of Shanghai, and then, shortly after, he went on television on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year. These were Deng’s last public appearances before his passing. A frail Deng not only caused a sharp drop in Hong Kong’s stock market, but also put those close to him in the CCP on edge.

Jiang Zemin, not having the privilege of seeing Deng at will, had to report to Deng through Deng’s office. Jiang felt somewhat relieved upon seeing Deng’s public appearances, believing that his turn might soon come. Jiang and Zeng Qinghong often schemed together as to how they could strengthen their positions. Two things they identified were a need to win over more officials through bribery and to place their own men in key posts. In years following Deng’s appearances, Jiang resorted to various corrupt measures to form his own factions and barter for loyalty with high-ranking officials. Jiang in the process discovered another useful trick of corruption: to get rid of those who don’t swear allegiance by means of an “anti-corruption” campaign. This would prove to be a means Jiang turned to frequently in ensuing years, targeting political opponents.

As long as Deng was alive, however, Jiang would never have real peace of mind. In December 1996, Deng, having been plagued by Parkinson’s disease for years, was hospitalized for his worsening medical condition. Two months passed and Deng was still alive, much to Jiang’s disappointment. Jiang was worried that Deng might recover from his chronic illness and could hardly wait for Deng to die; the wait was excruciating.

Deng was pronounced dead at eight minutes past nine o’clock on the evening of Feb. 19, 1997.

Jiang’s followers wasted no time in issuing a Pronouncement to the entire Party, the entire army, the whole country, and to the peoples of all nationalities—using the name of the CCP’s Central Committee, the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of China, the State Council, the Political Consultative Committee of China, and the Central Military Commission—that “the Party’s Central Committee with Comrade Jiang Zemin at its core” would definitely carry on the policy of reform and opening up started by Deng Xiaoping.

During the ceremony to pay last respects to Deng’s body, Jiang feigned a sad voice for his eulogy, wishing to conceal his true feelings. He even managed to shed a few tears for the public. But everyone aware of the truth understood what was really on Jiang’s mind. To this day the photo that captures Jiang wiping his tears at the event is the object of ridicule.

Two days after the memorial service, all the officers and soldiers of China’s army and all police personnel were ordered to study Jiang’s eulogy and commanded to “be absolutely and totally in line with the Party’s Central Committee with Jiang Zemin at its core.” In the editorial issued by the People’s Daily on Feb. 25, the words “the Party’s Central Committee with Jiang Zemin at its core” appeared as many as nine times.

2. Qiao Shi—an Eyesore

At this point in time Yang Shangkun, who had stepped down from power under pressure from Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong, was still alive, though 91. His brother, Yang Baibing, was not fully cut off from the military, despite having been stripped of military power. These men were but one of several reasons Jiang would lie awake at night, sleepless. But hurdles had to be removed one at a time, Jiang knew, and so he prioritized a target for removal: Qiao Shi.

Born in December 1924 in Shanghai, Qiao joined the CCP at the age of 16 and was once an organizer of student movements in Shanghai. From 1945 to 1949 he was the secretary of the CCP’s underground branch at Shanghai Tongji University and chief coordinator of the student committee of Shanghai’s underground CCP, Deputy Secretary of the district committee of Xinshi (Shanghai’s underground CCP), and Secretary of the student committee of District One of northern Shanghai. In those years Jiang was still undecided and hesitant about which road to take. After the CCP came to power, Qiao began from the bottom by becoming a Minister in the CCP’s Liaison Ministry to foreign countries and an alternate Secretary of the CCP’s Secretariat in 1982. Afterwards he held the posts of Director of CCP’s Central Office, Minister of CCP’s Organizational Ministry, Vice Premier of the State Council, Secretary of CCP’s Disciplinary Committee, and President of CCP’s Cadre Institute. From 1993 to 1998 he was chairman of the Standing Committee of the 8th National People’s Congress and a member of CCP’s Political Bureau. With experiences in student movements, industrial systems, liaisons with foreign countries, and responsibilities for intelligence and discipline, Qiao in time became a top decision maker rivaled not even by Li Peng (who was really the son of a martyr) or Party veterans such as Yang Shangkun and Bo Yibo, much less Jiang Zemin—a long time subordinate.

Jiang was not even close to Qiao, be it for reasons of seniority or ability. Not long after coming to Beijing Jiang, having a knack for monitoring others, learned that Qiao was the choice pick of both Deng Xiaoping and Chen Yun—the communist veterans representing both factions within the Party. People within the central government often said that Qiao had earned his positions. Jiang took such remarks to mean he was seen as incompetent, and thus it was that the seeds of Jiang’s resentment toward Qiao were planted. In fact in 1985 Qiao—who was seen as steady, sensitive, and decisive—was endorsed, along with Hu Qili, by communist veterans as one of the top leaders of the next generation. Qiao was among the candidates for Party Secretary even, following the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989, as Deng wished to give him consideration following Deng’s disillusionment with past Secretary Zhao Ziyang.

Jiang knew that he was in an inferior position compared to Qiao. Qiao was backed by the political and legal affairs institutions as well as the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress, which were led respectively by Peng Zhen and Wan Li. What dwarfed Jiang even more was Qiao’s reputation and image. When Qiao was first elected into the CCP’s inner circle he became a favorite of both reformists and conservatives, and was privately named the heir to the communist throne during the CCP’s 13th Congress. During the CCP’s 14th Congress Qiao was elected a member of the CCP’s Politburo with 316 favorable votes—only one vote short of a unanimous count. The one naysayer was none other than a resentful Jiang Zemin.

The people of Beijing expressed their wish that Jiang would step down and Qiao be promoted, saying “the river (Jiang) ebbs while the stone (Shi) emerges”—a saying that was most frustrating for Jiang. Jiang twitched with fear every day before the Yang brothers (Shangkun and Baibing) were forced out of power. For it was little secret—even Jiang himself knew—that Jiang’s ascendance to the highest post in the CCP was more the result of a compromise among CCP elders than patronage from Deng Xiaoping. Deng, though generally in agreement with Jiang’s candidacy, was not without misgivings and had gone back and forth in his mind regarding Jiang several times. Li Xiannian, Jiang’s real patron, endorsed Jiang not so much for his achievements as for having served Li well.

Jiang gazed at the group photo on his table, which was taken on June 21, 1989, after the six new members of the Politburo—Jiang Zemin, Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Song Ping, Li Ruihuan, and Yao Yilin—had just been elected during the 4th Plenary Session of the 13th CCP Congress. Standing in the middle was Yang Shangkun, vice chairman of CCP’s Military Commission. Deng’s intention couldn’t have been any clearer: Yang Shangkun was the real doer of Deng’s wishes while Jiang, like a side dish, mattered little.

Both of the Yang brothers had by that time been forced out of the power game and Deng had since passed away, all of which had the effect of emboldening Jiang. Jiang believed that with Deng gone he was now highest in rank and thus others should rally around him, that he should be the center. But Qiao Shi, who seemed to disregard Jiang, would still speak out, as usual, whenever he saw things that needed to be redressed. This was a vexing matter for Jiang, giving him something of a constant churning feel in his stomach.

Jiang rose to power in Shanghai and, as the Party Secretary of the city, created a “Shanghai faction” which long enjoyed notoriety. After Jiang became the top leader in the Party, government, and military, he began filling vacancies wherever they occurred with his Shanghai faction. Deng raised objections to this on several occasions. Qiao in kind pointed out to the Politburo that officials should be selected from throughout the country. Though Qiao didn’t address anyone by name, those present at the meeting were said to have all looked in Jiang’s direction.

One month after Deng passed away, the German financial newspaper Handelsblatt interviewed Qiao. Zeng Qinghong rushed to present the translation of the interview to Jiang and said, rather mysteriously, “Besides the usual topics related to the legal system and the People’s Congress, Comrade Qiao Shi stressed one other thing to the German reporter.” He deliberately paused a moment, continuing only after he could see Jiang’s anxiety mounting. “He said that his main objective was to counter the Leftist policies.”

“Anti-Leftists?” Jiang asked nervously. Jiang couldn’t help but recall the time he almost fell from office during Deng Xiaoping’s tour of southern China.

When Qiao was interviewed on March 9, 1995, by China’s state-run CCTV, he said that a market economy was dependent upon the legal system, and that the process for economic legislation—being a priority over other forms of legislation—should be completed within one year. Tian Jiyun, Vice Chairman of the People’s Congress, echoed the sentiment by stating People’s Representatives should have the right to choose candidates and that new government policies should be openly explained to the people. Qiao pleaded during the 3rd Plenary of the 8th Session of the People’s Congress that all government workers were servants of the people, rather than masters over them. He stated that it was important to build a clean government starting from improving the (state) system, with particular emphasis on the legal system. Each and every word Qiao said bred in Jiang still deeper resentment.

The major hurdles for Jiang were removed when Deng passed away and the Yang brothers fell from power. Now the thorn in Jiang’s side was Qiao Shi—the man who stood for building a true legal system. Jiang’s next strategic move thus became to force Qiao into retirement at the Party’s 15th Congress.

Jiang again struck a deal with Bo Yibo, another Party veteran. Bo promised to pressure Qiao to retire while Jiang, for his part, apologized to Bo for not having done enough to “take care of” Bo’s son, Bo Xilai.

On April 26, 1997, the person Jiang believed to be Qiao’s major political backer—Peng Zhen—died. Peng was a tough Party elder who even Mao knew not how to handle at times, such as in 1966 at the start of the Cultural Revolution. Jiang felt tremendously relieved over a formidable gerontocrat like Peng being gone.

3. Hired Writers

Jiang Zemin proceeded to hire three writers—Teng Wensheng, Wang Huning, and Liu Jizhong—to help achieve his political goals. Among the group, Teng was the most distant from Jiang, Wang the most admired by Jiang, and Liu the one who enjoyed friendship most with Jiang. Most of Jiang’s literary and oratory flare, if we are to call it such, came from some combination of the three.

Teng Wensheng: the “Top Writer in Zhongnanhai”

Born in October 1940, Teng Wensheng graduated in 1964 from the Department of CCP History at the People’s University of China. He had successively held the posts of Associate Fellow, Fellow, Head of the team on theory, and Deputy Director at the Institute of the Secretariat of CCP’s Central Committee. He also served as Executive Director of the Research Society on Ideological Work for the Chinese Workers, as well as Staff and Deputy Secretary General of CCP’s Advisory Committee. In 1989 Teng became Deputy Director of CCP’s Institute of Policy Research, and later was promoted by Jiang to its directorship. Having been a member of the CCP’s Central Committee at its 15th Congress, Teng was the main writer of the political report of the following, 16th congress.

While working at the Institute of the CCP’s Secretariat in 1980 Teng was responsible for collecting material and information about China’s liberal intellectuals, such as Fang Lizhi, Wang Ruowang, and Liu Binyan. All such figures were eventually thrown out of the CCP, with material and information gathered by Teng serving as the basis. In September 1987, Zhao Ziyang, with the backing of Deng Xiaoping, dismantled the institute.

One source from Beijing has revealed that Teng, who was an expert on Mao Zedong, advised Jiang to follow Chairman Mao’s style if he were to gain control of the Politburo. That is to say, instead of giving the power to one confidant or close follower, have two or three high-ranking officials compete with one another internally only to finally come to Jiang for arbitration.

Teng’s biggest contribution to “Jiang Zemin theory,” as Jiang would have it be called, was the creation of one of the “Three Talks,” known as “The talk of politics.”

Wang Huning: the Original Author of “The Three Represents”

Born Oct. 6, 1955, in Shanghai, Wang Huning had been a professor and mentor of Ph.D. students in the Department of Political Science at Fudan University. This was before he went to work at the CCP’s Institute on Policy Research.

Jiang Zemin knew of Wang when he was still the Party Secretary in Shanghai. Jiang admired Wang and his work almost to the point of obsession, though the two had never met. A few years later, when Wang was transferred to the CCP’s Institute on Policy Research, then-General-Secretary Jiang recited aloud paragraphs of Wang’s work upon the very first meeting the two had, taking Wang truly by surprise.

Jiang was keen on memorizing the writings of others for two reasons: first, he didn’t have anything of his own, so to speak. Thus, witness how often Jiang eludes questions put to him. He simply doesn’t know the answer, it often turns out, and a flashy quote is one way out of the awkward situation. And secondly, Jiang can in this fashion give the public an impression of being very learned. The real author of “The Three Represents”—Jiang’s pet theory which he insisted on adding to the Party Chapter and the Constitution so as to boost his own status—was in fact Wang Huning. Jiang’s regular attempts at polishing his public persona involve reciting a wide range of others’ works, with even ancient poems and classics of Western literature and oration included in the mix. But the effect has been laughter and suspicion on the part of Chinese more than admiration.

Wang was transferred to the Institute on Policy Research at Zeng Qinghong’s recommendation. Wu Bangguo had considered also having Wang serve as Jiang’s political advisor. After a trip to Beijing Wu never forgot the idea of having Wang assist Jiang, and mentioned it to Jiang many times. Later, when Wang went to work in Zhongnanhai, Jiang told Wang jokingly, “If you hadn’t come to Beijing, they would have made a big deal out of it.” The remark is telling in that it suggests just how worried were Zeng and Wu, Jiang’s confidants, over Secretary Jiang’s ineptitude.

Not long after Wang moved to Beijing he drafted for Jiang a speech given at the 5th Plenary of the 14th Session of the Party Congress, titled “On Twelve Major Relationships.”

Wang’s largest contribution were the theories of “The Three Represents” and “Moving with the Times”—both of which he formulated for Jiang. Jiang later would cling to these theories as grounds for refusing to retire from office, and would insert them—billing them as his “creative contribution”—into the Party Chapter and the Constitution. Wang had once been an Assistant to the Chairman, but was now named by Jiang, at the 16th Congress in November 2002, a member of the CCP’s Central Committee. After Jiang began to lose power, however, Wang, who was then the Director of the CCP’s Institute on Policy Research, offered to be the Vice President of China’s Academy of Social Science, only to be turned down. He then asked to be the Vice President of the CCP’s school for high-ranking officials. Again his offer was turned down. Jiang had grown furious with Wang for his revealing the secret behind the Three Represents’ authorship. The leak deprived Jiang of what would have otherwise been his private achievement.

Liu Ji: the Non-family Member Who Could Call Wang Yeping “Sister-in-law”

Although Liu Ji was not Jiang Zemin’s only political abettor, none—not even the “general manager” (Zeng Qinghong) and “political make-up man” (Wang Huning)—would dare to move about as freely as Liu did in front of Jiang. Even less would they dare to visit the Jiang residence without prior notice.

Born in October 1935 in Anqing of Anhui Province, Liu was assigned to work in Shanghai after graduating from the Department of Hydraulic Engineering at Beijing’s Qinghua University. Liu was drawn to “the study on leadership” despite having majored in the sciences. While Jiang was in power in Shanghai, Liu was promoted to the post of Vice Minister of the Ministry of Propaganda of the Shanghai government, then under Chen Zhili. Liu was transferred to Beijing in 1993 and became Vice President of China’s Academy of Social Sciences.

Liu’s theoretical strength gave full play to the building up of a so-called doctrine of the “wise master,” which attempted to paint Jiang as a Party leader with an open mind and make the then less-influential “core theory” and the “theory of new authority” mainstream thoughts. Liu’s efforts, if successful, would allow Jiang to exercise authority backed by power and expand his power backed by authority.

What Jiang did with Wang Huning’s theory was to memorize it and, by internalizing it, make it his own. But Jiang couldn’t memorize the doctrine of the “wise master,” for it was used by his confidants and followers to beautify his image. It was absolutely crucial for Jiang to be coached by Liu; he knew exactly how to improve Jiang’s craft of power politicking. Jiang held a few lengthy talks with Liu on how to achieve such things, and later came to respectfully call Liu the “master of the state.”

After Jiang moved into the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, Liu would visit Jiang’s residence without prior notice. Jiang’s guards never dared to stop him. While the two were in Shanghai, Liu never had addressed Jiang by his official title and always greeted Jiang by his first name, calling him “Comrade Zemin.” In Beijing Liu’s form of address changed from “Comrade Zemin” to “General Secretary,” but once inside the Jiang family’s quarters Liu still addressed Jiang’s wife, Wang Yeping, as “sister-in-law.”

After he was transferred to Beijing, Liu reportedly ate his meals at the Shanghai Office in Beijing. When he wanted a change he would travel to Jiang’s residence by car. If Wang Yeping was in a good mood she would cook a few southern dishes for Liu. When Wang didn’t have the time, the house staff, who had by then grown used to Liu’s privilege of casually coming and going, would attend to him with his favorite dishes.

Later in his years of rule, however, Jiang began to keep a distance from Liu on grounds of Liu’s open support for several reform-minded intellectuals. Eventually Liu retired from his post of Vice President of China’s Academy of Social Science.

4. The Return of Hong Kong

In 1984 an agreement arranging the return of Hong Kong to mainland China in 1997 was signed between British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang, a reformist and the brightest political star in China. On Dec. 19, 1984, Agence France Press took a photo showing Zhao walking next to Thatcher on red carpet. The narrow-minded Jiang Zemin, who delighted in flattery, couldn’t stand the thought of letting Zhao take credit for the agreement, and therefore disallowed the public from knowing the facts. In the CCP’s propaganda campaign afterwards, Zhao was either blurred or cut out of photos that bore witness to the historic moment. Tricks of this sort have oft been employed by the CCP in its 80-plus year history.

In May 1997, two months before the return of Hong Kong to China, the leadership in Beijing was bickering during the CCP’s 15th Congress over the selection of members for Party posts. In order to mask the disputes, Jiang ordered the Ministry of Propaganda to shift the public’s attention towards the handover of Hong Kong.

Qiao Shi stated at one meeting that the return of Hong Kong, though an important and much-anticipated event, was not something to boast about and the delegation sent to participate in the ceremony should minimize the Party’s involvement; the impression that it was the Party taking back Hong Kong was to be avoided. Qiao wanted highlighted instead the roles of the government and the People’s Congress. The innuendo was that Jiang, the General Secretary of the CCP and Chairman of CCP’s Central Military Commission, should stay behind in Beijing. This position was endorsed by Li Ruihuan, the Chairman of the Political Consultative Committee. Jiang was left fuming.

The ceremony marking Hong Kong’s return was to be the focus of the world’s attention, a rare and historic event. Jiang was extremely eager to seize the occasion and make a show of himself. Moreover, for Jiang presence at the event would have implications for personnel arrangements to be made at the Party’s 15th Congress. An uncompromising Jiang thus insisted on going to Hong Kong.

During this same time period someone from the Secretariat reported that Zhao Ziyang also hoped to take part in the ceremony, fulfilling the wish he made in December 1984 when he and Mrs. Thatcher signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration. “Absurd!” exploded Jiang in response, pounding his fist on the table. Jiang ordered his secretary to let Luo Gan know that the security at Fuqiang Lane should be stepped up to guard against the possible return of Zhao.

Ding Guangen transmitted a letter from Beijing’s CCTV asking for instructions on how to handle coverage of the signing ceremony of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in an upcoming feature show marking Hong Kong’s return. Zeng Qinghong suggested downplaying the role of Zhao Ziyang and highlighting instead Deng Xiaoping. But he cautioned that this should be done in a way that couldn’t be faulted.

On June 30, 1997, Jiang arrived in Hong Kong in high spirits. At a home for seniors he spoke with people from Shanghai in Shanghai dialect about his skills at mahjong. At a shopping center he greeted the arranged welcoming crowd in Mandarin Chinese, an accent of Yangzhou dialect and Cantonese detectable. “It’s not good if I shake hands with this person but not that one—muhao!” [1] he joked. He would afterwards reveal to a young girl who was present: although he could understand Cantonese (from which the expression “muhao” comes), he had little ability for speaking it. But this didn’t deter Jiang who, loving the limelight, would mimic Cantonese all the same.

The people of Hong Kong had been well accustomed by 1997 to things such as the manners of British gentlemen, the royal elegance, and the refined and courteous smile of Anson Chan, the former Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong government. After seeing Jiang, who despite his title of President of China came across as somewhat bizarre and bereft of self-esteem, the people of Hong Kong couldn’t help but frown upon him.

On June 30, Liu Huaqing, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, addressed Chinese troops being sent to Hong Kong during a ceremony held in Shenzhen. Early morning the next day, as it rained heavily, the troops marched to Hong Kong beneath a sky of dark clouds.

Between midnight of June 30 and the early morning of July 1, the governments of China and Britain went through procedures relating to the transfer of Hong Kong’s authority. The meeting took place in the hall of the No. 5 Building, found in the new wing of the Hong Kong Convention Center. At 11:42 on the evening of June 30, the transfer procedures officially began. On the Chinese side there was State president Jiang Zemin, Premier of the State Council Li Peng, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Zhang Wannian, and the first administrator of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Tung Chee-hwa, while on the British side stood Prince Charles, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook, departing Hong Kong Governor Chris Patton, and Chief of the Defense Staff General Charles Guthrie. Both parties walked onto the stage in the hall simultaneously. Of the two major figures that had signed the joint declaration in 1984, only former British Prime Minister Thatcher was present. Zhao Ziyang, the other signatory, was back in Beijing under house arrest, his residence under the watch of an usually large number of soldiers by order of Jiang Zemin. Jiang had the glamour of the occasion to himself, as it was.

At midnight as the day of July 1 began, the national flag of China and the regional flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region were raised. The Chinese and British governments held the ceremony for Hong Kong’s return as dictated by the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong. On the morning of the same day a celebration was held for the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administration at the Hong Kong Convention Center. At the gathering Jiang, who was the media’s focus during the event, made a speech in his capacity as President of China. He repeated the words of the Joint Declaration that Zhao had co-signed: the policies of “one country, two systems,” “Hong Kong is to be governed by the people of Hong Kong,” and that there should be “a high level of autonomy” would not change for 50 years, he declared, for these were to be the policies guiding the central government for years to come.

With those words still resounding in the air, the color of Hong Kong’s sky gave way to the color red. Soon it was decided that Hong Kong’s Special Administrator was to be named by Beijing authorities; the policies of the Hong Kong government were now only to be implemented after final approval from the central government in Beijing; and the Hong Kong people’s freedom of speech soon was restricted, among other changes. It wasn’t long before the Hong Kong government began to function to the satisfaction and likings of Beijing. Within a few years Hong Kong, once known as one of “the four Asian dragons” and the “Pearl in the Orient” for its prosperity and freedom, had fallen so fast as to have to request funding from the central government. The move sparked complaints throughout the island. In 2003 Hong Kong’s Special Administrator, Tung Chee-hwa, acting on Jiang Zemin’s wishes attempted to make “Article 23″—meant to roll back a number of freedoms in Hong Kong—into law. The move sparked enormous demonstrations against the legislation, with over one million persons partaking part in just one march alone.

But on that day in 1997, as he sat center stage, Jiang was beaming with delight. Stealing the spotlight from Zhao was typical of Jiang, being someone quick to seize upon something good and shrink at the sight of adversity.

5. Jiang’s Second Visit to the United States

On July 8, 1997, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officially decided to admit to its ranks former Warsaw Pact members. Former communist nations such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic at that point joined NATO. The free world continued its advance towards the East.

From Oct. 26 to Nov. 3, Jiang Zemin visited the United States. It was Jiang’s second trip. Before he started the trip, however, Jiang grew concerned over the America’s criticism of China’s poor human rights record. After Jiang took power political reforms had halted, human rights conditions deteriorated, large numbers of dissidents were jailed, and the prospects for democracy grew worse than in the period prior to the student movement of 1989. Wishing to pacify American criticism, Jiang used a decoy the day before he set off on his trip. That day China ratified the “International Covenants on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights”—an international agreement that recognizes “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” This was done despite the fact that the Xinhua News Agency, one of the Beijing government’s official mouthpieces, admitted meanwhile, in a tune rarely heard before, that “human rights abuses still exist in our society.”

Observers would have been grossly mistaken if they thought that gesture indicated any intention on Jiang’s part to respect human rights. Since Jiang had a track record of chronically violating the freedoms of belief, association, assembly, marching, and demonstration—all of which are guaranteed by China’s Constitution—could an international agreement be expected to prove binding for the dictator? When answering questions posed by a Voice of America (VOA) reporter, Jiang categorically denied the report by the Xinhua News Agency. During his interview with Jim Lehrer, the host of PBS’s News Hour, Jiang brazenly declared, “China has not done anything inappropriate in the area of human rights.”

During his weeklong visit to the U.S., Jiang revealed himself for the dictator he is at most every turn. In Lafayette Park near the White House, more than 2,000 demonstrators protested Jiang’s arrival. The protestors consisted of democracy activists, Tibetans, Inner Mongolians, Taiwanese, trade union leaders, activists opposing child labor, and environmentalists, among others. In common was their accusation that the Beijing government was abusing people’s rights. On their presence Jiang later mused, ironically, “I have been immersed in the friendly atmosphere of the American people, but occasionally some noises have reached my ears… I have also noticed that in America different views can be aired… I’ve seen this firsthand during my visit.”

Jiang regarded the protests as “noise,” signifying that he never so much as looked into the activists’ grievances or cared about what they had to say. Protests against him were something Jiang would never allow in China, and that’s why he had to come to America to be able to experience “firsthand” the “different views on him.”

Jiang further revealed his true, autocratic face when he traveled to Boston to address Harvard University. When asked by a reporter from Newsweek how he would respond to the voices of protest outside the building, Jiang replied, “Even though I was addressing an audience here, I could still hear the sound from those loudspeakers outside. All I could do was to try to speak over their voices!” Arrogant as always, Jiang showed little interest in the voice of the people.

In direct contrast to Jiang’s attitude was a reply given by President Clinton during his visit to Beijing University in 1998. A student asked Clinton, “When President Jiang Zemin visited Harvard University as a Chinese guest, he was faced with protests and demonstrations. Today you are a guest yourself. If demonstrations against you were allowed, how would you feel about that?” Clinton replied, “I would meet with the demonstrators and hear from them. In fact, I often face protests from people.” Clinton didn’t need to play games.

From the two questions and their answers one can clearly make out the different mindsets of the two countries’ people and their top leaders. One bespoke of a totalitarian regime, the other a free society.

6. Hostage Diplomacy

When Jiang returned to China following his trip he made a pleasant gesture to Clinton by releasing democracy activist Wei Jingsheng.

Wei was arrested in 1979 for posting an article critical of Deng Xiaoping on what was popularly known as “Democracy Wall” in Beijing. He was later sentenced to 15 years in jail on charges of being a “counterrevolutionary.” His article, titled “Do We Want Democracy or a New Dictator?” warned of Deng’s autocratic inclinations. Wei was put on death row for eight months and then jailed in solitary confinement for nearly five years. He was tortured by jail guards and other prisoners in the trying facilities of Tangshan Prison and Qinghai Labor Camp. Wei was not released until 1993.

In 1994, Mr. John Shattuk, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, visited China. Before he began talks with Chinese authorities, he met with Wei and asked his thoughts on China’s current state of affairs.

The early release of Wei by Beijing in 1993 was an attempt to boost its bid for the 2000 Olympic Games; it hoped to project an image of an open and democratic China. But this time, Jiang Zemin seethed with anger upon Shattuk’s request for a meeting with Wei. Jiang quickly ordered Wei arrested for a second time, this time giving him a sentence of 14 years. Beijing’s bid for the Olympics eventually failed, falling one vote short, due to a falling-out with North Korea.

The United States was very regretful as it knew Wei’s arrest was the direct result of its attempted meeting. It thus felt an obligation to help Wei. In subsequent dealings with Beijing, the U.S. frequently requested Wei’s release. In 1997 this topic came up again during talks between Clinton and Jiang.

For Jiang, the release of Wei had been but a maneuver meant to please America. The man who loathed Wei more than anyone else, Deng Xiaoping, had since passed away. Releasing Wei thus shouldn’t have offended anyone, Jiang figured, and could only, to the contrary, have been seen as a good-will gesture by Clinton. So it was that a tactical Jiang in November 1997 again decided upon releasing Wei. Having now spent 18 years in prison, Wei was escorted from his cell directly to a flight for America. Wei began a new chapter of his life thus, living in exile.

To some extent those in the West were fooled by the maneuver, believing Jiang was a man with an open mind. The move, and its success, thus came to mark the beginning of what could be called Jiang’s strategy of “hostage diplomacy”—the charade of tactically abducting and releasing certain figures. In 1998 Wang Dan, a student leader in the 1989 Democracy Movement, was “released on bail for medical treatment”—as it was claimed—and exiled to the United States.

But hardly did the release of a few high-profile political prisoners change the makeup of Jiang’s prisons. On the contrary, the number of such detainees kept rising. The list of political prisoners the U.S. wanted to see released only continued to grow. Beijing’s response, however, was merely to make a few strategic, token releases whenever it sought something from the international community. Upon getting what it sought it would arrest only more people, in turn, knowing it could use them as bargaining chips with the West.

Jiang was the first leader in the CCP’s history to seize with gusto Chinese citizens, turning them into hostages, for purposes of bargaining with other nations. The CCP and its lackeys like Jiang not only disallow Chinese people freedom of speech, but also persecute those who would dare to speak out by sending the dissidents into exile overseas. They never reflect on such practices. Neither do they feel so much as shame over their actions. Instead, they flaunt the action of exiling dissidents as the CCP’s respect for “human rights” and showcase it as the “open-mindedness” of a dictator, all fooling and cajoling the free world. This is a bizarre phenomenon occurring in modern-day China.

7. Qiao Shi’s Retirement

The personnel arrangements for the CCP’s 15th Congress didn’t become any clearer after the return of Hong Kong. The biggest uncertainty was whether Qiao Shi would retire. The 89-year-old Bo Yibo listlessly tried to tell Qiao, after being prompted, that a new age limit would be set at the 15th Congress and the line would be drawn at 70. Qiao would be left with no choice but to retire. Jiang Zemin, however, would stay on as the “core” of the leadership, though he was 71 years old.

Qiao agreed to retire and step down from all posts—a move that took Jiang, Zeng Qinghong, and the like by total surprise. Were they themselves in Qiao’s position never would they have agreed to the limit. Qiao’s retirement paved the way for Jiang’s personnel arrangements at the CCP’s 15th Congress. At the session new appointments came to comprise 56 percent of the total CCP’s Central Committee; all had been checked and approved by General Secretary Jiang and his associates.

Another one of Jiang’s fears was the fact that he had never fought in times of war. No matter how many generals he appointed, with no true experience in the military he could never be as powerful as the military advisors Deng Xiaoping had arranged for him. Yang Shangkun, Liu Huaqing, and Zhang Zhen had all fought in times of war. On this matter it was Bo Yibo who came upon an idea. Based on the principle that the Party directs the military, it seemed inappropriate to have soldiers on the Standing Committee of the Party’s Politburo. Thus Bo and company set out to change the old rules so as to suit their needs. Starting from the CCP’s 15th Congress, soldiers were excluded from the Standing Committee of the Politburo, solving yet another problem for Jiang.

After the death of Deng Xiaoping, Jiang’s behind-the-scene boss and the lifting of many a burden off his back, Jiang was simply elated. He finally felt that he had become the true “core” of the Party leadership.

Though Qiao Shi retired there were two conditions he attached to the move. First, Wei Jianxing was to become the secretary of the CCP’s disciplinary committee and secondly, Tian Jiyun would stay on as Vice Chairman of the People’s Congress. Jiang readily agreed to this. The agreement was a good deal for him, after all.

Qiao didn’t leave on good terms, however. Before retiring he openly proclaimed that the decision to have Hu Jintao as the core of the Fourth Generation leadership was a strategic arrangement made by Deng Xiaoping in conjunction with other revolutionaries of older generations, the Standing Committee of CCP Politburo, and members of the Politburo. Moreover, a Party resolution was adopted along these lines in which views and suggestions from persons outside the Party were taken into account.

Qiao Shi, Li Ruihuan, and Wan Li mentioned on different occasions that Deng Xiaoping and the Standing Committee of the Politburo had agreed that Hu Jintao would be the core of the Fourth Generation leadership. They made it known that the decision was approved by the Politburo and therefore legitimate. The purpose of doing so, of course, was to declare to the Party the legitimacy of their arrangement and to warn that any attempt to override the decision would be illegitimate.

If Jiang attempted to depose of Hu it would thus mean he had betrayed Deng. And Jiang didn’t dare to go against the will of Deng. So in essence Qiao, Li, and Wan used Deng’s wishes almost as if a time bomb so as to force Jiang to step down when his time was due. Jiang was apparently annoyed by Qiao’s words and so prohibited the Party’s secretariat, the Party’s central office and others from circulating Qiao’s speech via internal documents. Qiao pointed out, as all of this unfolded, that political life within the Party was not all as usual.

The actions Qiao took before his retirement forced Jiang to carry on amidst what had been set in motion by Deng. While Jiang had forced Qiao to retire via the 70-year age limit, Qiao in turn proposed a set of rules regarding “retiring at seventy” that would require Jiang to hand over power to Hu Jintao after serving one more term.

Five years later it was Jiang’s turn to face the pressure of such rules. The very same trap that a power-hungry Jiang had set for Qiao had now ensnared the General Secretary himself.



[1] The term “muhao” is Cantonese for “not good.”

From The Epoch Times

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