Following the purges of recent weeks, all seems to be running smoothly again at the top of the political food chain.
As reported by the South China Morning Post today (subscription required, or check here instead for our summary), the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has given President Hu Jintao the thumbs up for his plan to construct a "socialist harmonious society".
The blessing came in a communiqué released on the last day of an annual gathering of top party members. The gathering will be forever etched into history for the purging of Hu’s political rivals that preceeded it, victims of both the pension fund scandal that has rocked Shanghai in recent months and of their membership of the so-called Shanghai faction, a group of political heavyweights loyal to former president Jiang Zemin.
In a sign of just how harmonious things have become, Hu has even gone so far to appoint the next cab-off-the-rank in the political rivalry stakes, Vice-President Zeng Qinghong, to run the show at next year’s Communist Party congress. It’s a big call because the congress will establish the contenders to take the rudder from Hu when he steps down, most likely in 2012.
As chief lieutenant to Jiang in the days when he occupied the presidency, Zeng’s appointment to the event mangement role is a sure sign Hu is confident the purge has done the trick.
Either that, or its a sign that the pension purge really was about corruption and not about political power plays as widely believed (see for example, CER’s politics and society column for October, unfortunately published shortly before the removal of Chen Liangyu, and the cover story on financial sector reform in the same issue), in which case he’s made a monkey’s uncle out of all of us.
More likely, however, it is Zeng that is the monkey, and not the pundits. To paraphrase an old Chinese saying, it remains to be seen just how scared the killing of Chicken Chen has made Zeng.
But my bet is he’ll be sticking to bananas rather than making a grab for the spoils at the top of the food chain.