Party 'immortals' flex their muscles

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 April, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 April, 1996, 12:00am

Two of the surviving Communist Party 'immortals' have again flexed their muscles over national affairs.

State media yesterday gave coverage to ex-president General Yang Shangkun and senior leader Bo Yibo , indicating both party elders were still healthy and concerned with current affairs.

Xinhua (the New China News Agency) said that General Yang had paid a three-day visit to the revolutionary cradle at Yan'an, in Shaanxi, and held talks with local peasants. The elder, who spent eight years in Yan'an, gave his blessing to the city and instructed provincial authorities to help it build up its economy.

Mr Bo, made his presence felt through a lengthy article in the People's Daily yesterday concerning the late conservative leader Chen Yun , who died a year ago.

Mr Bo eulogised the humble attitude of Chen, who is seen as the godfather of China's 'bird cage' economic theory which puts state planning over market forces.

The 88-year-old party elder wrote that although Chen had once advised him to assume fewer public duties, he felt obliged to continue.

They were not the only party elders to have made news lately. Retired general Zhang Aiping took part in a tree-planting ceremony about a fortnight ago.

Ailing paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was mentioned in the national press when renowned mathematician Chen Jinrun died last week after a prolonged illness.

Mr Deng was so concerned about the mathematician's well-being that he intervened in the search for a secretary for the academic when Chen was still pursuing his research.

The publicity surrounding the party elders and the visit to France by premier Li Peng have taken the limelight from party chief Jiang Zemin .