Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Interpreting clues in China

This is just a minor example of the subtlety of the clues that are used by outsiders to figure out what's going on in Chinese politics. Don't even think of transparency. I added a bit of bold face so you won't miss the clue.

Former Chinese Leader Steps Back, Fueling Speculation
A decade after he stepped down as China’s top leader, the powerful Communist Party elder Jiang Zemin has used the death of a former rival to signal that he may allow his political shadow to recede and give the nation’s newest leader more room to consolidate his authority.

The sign came in official accounts of mourning for Yang Baibing, a general who was pushed from office after being implicated in efforts to challenge Mr. Jiang. A report on the funeral by Xinhua, the state news agency, on Monday ranked Mr. Jiang last among a dozen party luminaries who had offered words of comfort and condolences.

As recently as late November, Mr. Jiang, 86, was placed third in rank in a similar mourning announcement, behind Hu Jintao…

For some political analysts seeking to fathom the undercurrents of power in China’s elite, Mr. Jiang’s reduced protocol ranking suggested something more: that he may finally curb any impulses to exert influence in Zhongnanhai, the party leadership’s compound in Beijing…

And some argue that Mr. Jiang, while signaling that he is ready to step away from the political fray, is doing so in a way that does not exclude renewed efforts to exert influence. “I think that everyone was amazed that at 86 he still had the ability to achieve the influence that he wielded at the 18th Party Congress,” said Joseph Fewsmith, a specialist in Chinese politics at Boston University. “Having helped put in place the leadership that he wanted, it seems likely that he will now seek a lower profile.”…
See also

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