BEIJING — Observers of Chinese political situation generally agree that the suspension of former Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai (薄熙來) from the party’s Politburo will help China’s “Youth League” faction cement its power.
China announced Tuesday that Bo, who was originally favored to enter the party’s nine-member Political Bureau Standing Committee (中央政治局), the core of power in China, was suspended from the Politburo after having been sacked from his post in Chongqing on March 15 after the Wang Lijun (王立軍) incident. Wang, the former police chief of the city, sought political asylum at a U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February.
Observers and pundits cited in media in Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas said Bo’s political life came to an end after he was dismissed from his party post in Chongqing, and the latest announcement represented a further decline in the clout of the “Shanghai clique.”
In contrast, the Youth League faction, that has been in power for a decade and is led by party General Secretary Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), has developed a solid base and would see its strength boosted further, the analysts generally agreed. Yet despite the Youth League faction’s hold on power, the appointment of Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang (張德江) to succeed Bo as Chongqing party chief last month showed that Hu still respected the Shanghai faction. The “Shanghai faction” refers to an informal group of officials who rose to prominence in connection to the Shanghai municipal administration under former Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin (江澤民).
Some mainland Chinese scholars also expected the Youth League to gain further momentum after Bo’s fall given the different interests and loose organization of the “princeling” faction, composed of children of incumbent or former party heavyweights.
They believe the Youth League will remain strong even if Xi Jinping (習近平), who is expected to take over the party’s top post from Hu later this year, is himself a “princeling” and part of the Shanghai faction. Xi is hoping to use the Shanghai faction’s strength as a counterweight to the Youth League’s influence, Chinese analysts believed.
Even before Bo’s suspension from the Politburo, analysts perceived a rift at the top of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
A report issued by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission under the U.S. Congress in late March after Bo’s ouster from his Chongqing post contended that China’s new leadership core will be divided into the Youth League faction and a loose coalition between the “princelings” and the Shanghai faction.