Mao Zedong’s grandson among the ‘princelings’ not invited to China’s party congress

Mao Xinyu one of five senior military figures with familial ties to former leaders excluded from October event

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 September, 2017, 2:49pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 September, 2017, 10:25pm

A grandson of Mao Zedong is among the “princelings” from China’s People’s Liberation Army who have not been invited to the upcoming 19th party congress.

Major General Mao Xinyu is one of five senior military figures descended from or with close family ties to revolutionary generals or former state leaders who will miss out on China’s most important political event, which is held just once every five years. As the congress also provides a platform for the party to announce its new leadership line-up, those who do not attend are effectively ruled out of any future promotions within the military.

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Where once a familial link to a former leader was almost a guarantee of a seat at one of China’s top tables, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping – who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission – such associations would appear to carry less weight.

However, Macau-based military watcher Anthony Wong Dong suggested that while the absence of so many princelings from the delegates list was notable, it did not necessarily mean that Xi was seeking to sever dynastic threads, but rather that he did not know enough about the people concerned to trust them with key roles.

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“Rather than deliberately suppressing [the influence] of the descendants of party veterans, Xi might simply think they are not reliable enough, or that they don’t have the right skills to lead the army.”

A total of 2,300 delegates from all sectors will attend the party congress where they will vote to select the powerful Communist Party Central Committee and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. A list of the 300 PLA delegates set to attend was released on Wednesday.

The other princelings that were excluded are: General Liu Yuan, the son of former President Liu Shaoqi; Admiral Liu Xiaojiang, the son-in-law of the party’s former General Secretary Hu Yaobang; General Zhang Haiyang, a son of former Central Military Commission Vice Chairman General Zhang Zhen; and General Liu Yazhou, the son-in-law of former President Li Xiannian.

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At the last party congress in 2012, 41 members of the military delegation, which includes figures from the People’s Armed Police, were elected to the 200-strong Central Committee, which is regarded as the political core of China’s Communist Party. Membership of the committee is also a prerequisite for anyone aspiring to an elite position on the Central Military Commission, the body that runs the world’s largest army.

Of the 41 delegates five years ago, just 12 will take their seats in Beijing on October 18. Of those 12, five are expected to retire at the end of the meeting, which means there will be 34 fresh faces among the PLA contingent on the Central Committee. In 2012, there were 27 new arrivals.

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Since 2012, Xi has removed at least three members of the military contingent of the Central Committee. They are: General Wang Jianping, the former Commander of the People’s Armed Police; General Tian Xiusi, the former Political Commissar of the Air Force; and Lieutenant General Yang Jingshan, a former commanding chief of Tibet Military Region.