Hu Jintao

Battle for leadership of party heats up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2007, 12:00am

The Communist Party's 16th Central Committee began its last plenary session yesterday, with the party's ruling elite expected to hammer out a new leadership and decide the fate of Shanghai's sacked party boss.

Sources said the meeting would see intensified bargaining on personnel arrangements, even though party chief Hu Jintao is expected to consolidate his power through a series of new appointments.

'Personnel matters that relate to the new lineup of the fifth-generation leadership will only be finalised and approved by the full meeting of the decision-making Central Committee,' said a party source familiar with the policy-making procedure.

Analysts said Mr Hu was set to use the Communist Party's 17th National Congress next week to manoeuvre more of his supporters into key positions. But the final lineup has not yet been agreed on and Mr Hu also faces challenges from rival factions, possibly forcing him to make some compromises.

To smooth the transfer of power from the fourth-generation of leaders headed by Mr Hu to the next, the 17th National Congress will determine which candidates will succeed the current leadership in 2012, when most leaders, including Mr Hu, are expected to retire.

The meeting of about 350 Central Committee members and their alternates will hear a report on an investigation into Chen Liangyu , who last year was sacked as party boss of Shanghai for his involvement in a string of corruption scandals.

Chen, a political ally of former president Jiang Zemin , is expected to be formally expelled from the party, a move that would strengthen Mr Hu's power and pave the way for Chen's trial.

Security appeared tighter yesterday at the Soviet-era Jingxi Hotel in western Beijing, where the Central Committee is meeting.

Uniformed police officers were stationed around the army-managed hotel compound, while the presence of plain-clothes officers were also evident.

Police cars, mainly from Beijing and a few from Liaoning , were parked along the road next to the walled compound.

The plenum would discuss a final draft of the political report outlining policy directions for the next five years to be delivered by Mr Hu to the 2,000-odd delegates at next week's congress, Xinhua reported.

It said the plenum would also discuss an amendment to the party constitution that would include sustainable development and social harmony - two of Mr Hu's governing philosophies - in the party's constitution.

The move, which will add Mr Hu to the pantheon of the mainland's communist leadership, was approved at a Politburo meeting last month.

The last party congress, held in 2002, approved an amendment cementing Mr Jiang's legacy by adding his political theory, the Three Represents, to the party constitution.

Xinhua said the Central Committee had solicited opinion on the draft of the political report and amendment to the constitution from former and newly elected party delegates.

The political report is expected to spell out Mr Hu's agenda for next five years, and might also touch on political reform, although that is likely to be limited to the expansion of 'intra-party democracy'.

In a June speech setting the tone for the congress, Mr Hu said political change would be gradual and should uphold one-party, communist rule.