The Communist Party leadership decided to strengthen its security apparatus shortly after the June 4 military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in 1989, according to a new book by a former top legislator.
The leadership decided to resume the Central Commission of Politics and Legal Affairs in early 1990, which had been downgraded to the 'central leading group on politics and legal affairs' two years earlier, in an effort to accommodate the social changes wrought by the demonstrations, according to Qiao Shi , the No 3 official at the time.
The commission, under the party's Central Committee, oversees all the nation's law-enforcement authorities, including the police, making it a very powerful body.
The revelation is contained in a book of 102 speeches by the retired leader on Chinese democracy and rule of law written between 1985 and 1998, which was released on Wednesday. The book contains nothing particularly politically sensitive, including any mention of the June 4 crackdown, but its publication at this time has attracted the attention of China watchers.
Qiao, born in 1924, was chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee between 1993 and 1998. He was seen as a rival of former president Jiang Zemin in the late 1980s and '90s.
In the past few years, several top retired leaders including Jiang, former premier Zhu Rongji and Qiao's successor, Li Peng, have published books - a sign, analysts say, that these leaders still wield influence ahead of this autumn's key Communist Party Congress with its once-in-a-decade succession of leadership.
Hu Xingdou , an economics professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, said Qiao's book aimed to press the current leadership to push forward with policies that promote political reform and the rule of law at the party congress.
The book, which focuses on the mainland's political and legal development, comes out at a time of frenzied internal politicking following the abrupt ousting of Politburo member and Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai in April.
'Bo's case has further strengthened the belief among some moderate party leaders that political reform to promote democracy and the rule of law is more imperative than ever,' Hu said.
It is believed that President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao consulted party elders to marshal approval for Bo's ousting and solicited views on handling the case. Those approached included Qiao, along with Jiang, Zhu and Li.
The book contains no dissenting views and reveals little about internal affairs unknown to outside world, but is full of rhetoric in line with long-standing party policy, even though Qiao is widely considered a party moderate, if not a real reformist.
The book contains two speeches on Hong Kong affairs delivered when Qiao visited the new special administrative region in February 1998. He retired the following month.
During his tenure as parliamentary chief, the NPC slowly became a forum for limited debate on policy issues. By emphasising the need to strengthen the nation's legal order, Qiao enhanced the role of the NPC.
For this reason, Tiananmen student democracy leader Wang Dan remarked: 'Although Qiao Shi is a master of illusions, it's possible that he could lead China towards more enlightened rule.'
Qiao was rumoured to be twice a favourite candidate for party general secretary, first in 1987 and again in 1989. He reached a new high at the 13th Party Congress in 1987, when he was made the third member of the elite Politburo Standing Committee.Topics: Politics Politics of the People'S Republic of China Government of the People'S Republic of China Qiao Shi 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China