Xin Ziling in an undated photograph. (Apollo Net)Xin Ziling in an undated photograph. (Apollo Net)

Xi Jinping is widely misunderstood by the media and intellectuals because they don’t understand the power dynamics inside the Chinese communist regime today, according to maverick retired defense official Xin Ziling.

Born Song Ke in the province of Hebei in northern China, Xin joined the People’s Liberation Army in 1950 at the age of 15. Xin eventually made director of China National Defense Univer­sity, the country’s top higher education institute for defense official.

Today, Xin is best known as a fiery critic of the regime who isn’t afraid to broach sensitive topics—he is the author of a highly critical book on former Chinese dictator Mao Zedong; he has spoken out against former Party leader Jiang Zemin’s persecution of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual practice; and joined other scholars and journalists in calling for the regime to end censorship.   

Recently, Xin Ziling was interviewed by the Chinese language edition of Voice of America as part of a series on the Communist Party’s 6th Plenum. Though the interview took place before the recently-concluded meeting, its identification of the faultlines in elite Party politics remains highly relevant. We’ve translated the interview, and edited it for brevity and clarity.

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Question: What are your thoughts about the 6th Plenum?

Xin Ziling: This meeting concerns the infighting in the Chinese Communist Party. Xi Jinping is heading a group of reformists, and they are being opposed by a faction led by Jiang Zemin.

The 6th Plenum will bring a general resolution to this struggle, and there must be complete resolution in the lead up to the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress; otherwise, the 19th Congress can’t be held. For example, if Jiang is still allowed some say in matters of the day, he could pick another three Politburo Standing Committee members [serving Standing Committee members Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang, and Zhang Gaoli are known allies of Jiang]. How is that acceptable? What will become of China then? I also believe that [Xi Jinping] will conclusively resolve organizational issues at the 6th Plenum.

Now the whole Party has essentially endorsed Xi Jinping assuming the title of “core” leader. In other words, Jiang Zemin’s position as the Party’s “core” is on the wane; previously, Jiang still had influence, but now many cadres are much clearer on the overall situation. I recently read that the leaders of 28 provinces were replaced within a span of nine months. If a cadre refuses to change his political mindset and stance, he will be replaced and dealt with by the Party organization.

I’m optimistic about the prospects. By that I mean that Xi Jinping will be victorious, the reformists will be victorious, and the Chinese people will be triumphant. China cannot possibly progress without the purging of corrupt officials—those big tigers, medium tigers, and old tigers. [“Tiger” is Party parlance for corrupt high-ranking officials.]

It’s also impossible for progress to be made on political reform and issues such as the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the political rehabilitation of Falun Gong if Jiang Zemin isn’t removed. With rows of big tigers obstructing the way, there’s no way to resolve these issues. The conditions and timing must be right for a comprehensive resolution to be reached, and its possible that something will come of the 6th Plenum that will jolt the people and the Party.

Q: Do you that think that Xi Jinping might resolve the issues of Tiananmen and Falun Gong when he becomes “core” leader?

Xin: It’s not a question of probability; Xi Jinping will definitely resolve these issues. Falun Gong practitioners can and have filed criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin with the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate … these judicial organs have already accepted these complaints. Falun Gong and Tiananmen must be resolved. Xi Jinping cannot carry this burden going forward; he is crystal clear on this matter.

Q: Human rights lawyers have been arrested, petitioners have been suppressed, freedom of speech is being restricted, and many people have been prosecuted for comments they’ve made on the internet. Could these incidents have happened if Xi Jinping didn’t give a nod?

Xin: Let me make a clarification. There are currently two power centers in the Chinese Communist Party. And Xi Jinping doesn’t have complete power before the 6th Plenum.

Take the political and legal apparatus, for example. In theory, after Zhou Yongkang was purged, Xi ought to have regained control over the apparatus. In reality, however, the apparatus’ direction can be influenced in countless ways; many officials are still carrying out Zhou Yongkang’s policies, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Recently there was a man named Wang Zhiwen [the former Falun Gong coordinator in Beijing] who was prevented from leaving the country in Guangzhou. Xi Jinping is definitely not behind this. Because the people who blocked Wang still have some power.

Nowadays, who does the common folk blame when they are unhappy about something? They blame the top leader, and say that it’s Xi Jinping’s doing even when it’s not his idea. This  situation arises from slandering and the so-called “advanced blackening” [gaojihei in Chinese].

Those old tigers and big tigers from the Jiang faction face the fate of being purged. So they think: If I’m a goner, then I’m going to bring you down, too. They then try to sabotage Xi, and damage his political reputation. But Xi is not behind many incidents; the shutting down of Yanhuang Chunqiu [a reformist publication ran by mostly elderly Party cadres] was the handiwork of Liu Yunshan [the propaganda and ideology chief].  

Right now Xi Jinping cannot abandon his plans at the 6th Plenum or his overall objectives to deal with the specific problems caused by the Jiang faction. As the highest-ranking leader, Xi needs to deal with all these problems comprehensively in terms of strategy, direction, and policy. He needs to get all cadres to implement the Party Central’s policies; having the top leader rectify all problems caused by noncompliant cadres is impossible.

Given the circumstances, many people, including the media and the intelligentsia, have a lot of misunderstandings about Xi Jinping. They see increased restrictions on the media, and people getting arrested. But if Xi isn’t aware of a lot of things until they take place, what is he to do?

Q: Isn’t Xi Jinping aware that his reputation and credibility are damaged when these things happen?

Xin: Of course he is aware. And that is what drives him to resolve all these issues once and for all at the 6th Plenum! If Xi doesn’t take action, what he ultimately faces is Chinese officials dragging their feet, or even performing the opposite of what he wants. Some officials might think: You don’t allow me to take bribes, that’s fine. I will not do any work, and bring the entire government administration to a halt. Then the people will blame Xi Jinping.

The organizational issue can be resolved through the appointing of new officials and wiping the slate at the 19th Congress. Jiang Zemin has build up his factional networks in the Party for over two decades, and the roots he has sunk are intertwining and very deep. This is not an easy issue to resolve, but Xi won’t be able to push through his policies without fixing this issue. Then the case of orders not leaving Zhongnanhai [the officials headquarters of the Party leadership in Beijing] will persist.

Q: For several months, there have been many changes in the ranks of the top provincial leadership. Do you believe that Xi Jinping is responsible for the reshuffling?

Xin: Certainly. Now, many provincial-level cadres are Xi’s appointments. These personnel changes were made to prevent a political coup from taking place during the 6th Plenum and the 19th Congress. That’s also the reasoning behind the reshuffling of top leaders in 28 provinces in 9 months.

Q: After the recent military reforms, does Xi Jinping have complete control over the military?

Xin: You could say that. Military reform is a massive operation; frankly, Mao Zedong didn’t dare to do it, and neither did Deng Xiaoping. What Xi has done is unprecedented, but then again he was forced into it. Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou [two disgraced former military vice chairs] had Hu Jintao under their thumb for a decade; everyone in the military was loyal to them. If this issue isn’t resolved at a fundamental level, it’s impossible to gain control over the military.

In fact, Xi forcibly wrestled back control of the military, and the struggle continues to escalate. Recently, there were many personnel changes in the military; this was done to clean out the remaining influence of Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong. Why is this necessary? Because many of Xu and Guo’s subordinates are still in office, and whose side they are on is still unclear. However, the overall situation has been settled, and Xi Jinping is firmly in control of the military. Without controlling the military, there can be no way for Xi to counterattack in this ongoing struggle. So it is reasonable for Xi to have started with military reform, and to purge Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong.

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In the southern Chinese city of Dongguan, citizens hung up banners and let off firecrackers after one of the former mayors of the city was purged, according to Chinese news reports.
Liu Zhigeng, most recently the deputy governor of Guangdong Province from 2011, was placed under investigation for serious violations of Party discipline, according to Party investigators on Feb. 4.
But before he was kicked upstairs, Liu ruled Dongguan with an iron fist. Dongguan is an otherwise unremarkable city that was home to a large number of electronics manufacturers, and brothels.
“Many people are all thinking about how to report his wrongdoings. Basically many people know about the crimes he has committed,” said Mr. Dan, a resident of Dongguan, in an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Feb. 5.
Among residents, he was known as the official who banned motorcycles and raising pigs in order to build a “clean city”—but at the same time, they blame him for the influx of prostitution into the city, and along with it gambling dens and the manufacture of drugs.
His wife is said to have kept tight control over the issuance of fire inspection certificates—a steady source of cash flow—and his nephew is said to have run one of the gaudiest nightclubs, as well as keeping a hand in the sex industry, according to those interviewed by RFA.
On Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, netizens seemed overjoyed at Liu’s removal from office. A netizen calling himself “G-oo” from Guangdong wrote: “This is the best new year gift for the people in Dongguan. This calls for a national celebration.”
“Give us back our motorcycles,” wrote another Internet user.
Celebration at National Forest Park on Guanyin Mountain. (Sina)
A large celebration took place at the National Forest Park on Guanyin Mountain in the morning on Feb. 5, where people played drums, gongs, and lit firecrackers to celebrate the purge of Liu, reported the popular news portal Sina.
In an unconfirmed report on Feb. 15, the state-run China.com reported that investigators had frozen Liu’s bank accounts and those of his family members, which had a total of 37 billion yuan (about $5.7 billion) between them. The veracity of the figure is unclear, given that it only appeared in one source, and would represent an extraordinary admission on the part of state media, which are usually far more reticent and conservative in their estimates of official venality.
One of the lesser known, though no less significant, crimes that Liu is accused of is his active role in the persecution of practitioners of the Falun Gong practice, a traditional discipline of personal moral cultivation that involves five meditative exercises and the teachings of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. According to Minghui.org, a clearinghouse that reports first-hand information about the persecution, “Liu Zhigeng was the chief person in charge of the persecution of Falun Gong in Dongguan” for the seven years he served there. The article went on to recount some of the extreme persecution and torture that was meted out to Falun Gong adherents during Liu’s rule of Dongguan.
There was the case of Tang Wenyan, for instance, a school teacher in Dongguan and a practitioner of Falun Gong, who had to stand trial without her lawyer (who had threatened to recuse by the Ministry of Justice) in September 2010. Tang was eventually sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.
Wu Weiwei, a high school teacher in Dongguan, also a Falun Gong practitioner, was fired from her school in February 2010, after she completed a three year sentence at the Guangdong Women’s Prison for her beliefs.

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BEIJING—China’s anti-corruption agency said that it is in talks with the United States over a highly connected businessman who fled China, possibly bearing politically sensitive information.
The statement by an agency spokesman at a news conference on Jan. 15 is the first official acknowledgment of China’s interest in Ling Wancheng, whose brother was a top aide to former Chinese regime leader Hu Jintao before being arrested on corruption charges.
Ling is believed to hold sensitive information about China’s leadership and could deliver an intelligence windfall should he defect.
The New York Times reported last year that the Obama administration has rebuffed Chinese requests for Ling’s repatriation and has warned China about covert agents seeking his whereabouts on U.S. soil.
MORE:Here is the California Mansion of Ling Wancheng, Brother of a Purged Top Chinese Official
Liu Jianchao, the official at the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection responsible for repatriating corruption suspects, told reporters that China was “in dialogue” with the U.S. but did not give details or say whether Ling might be handed over.
The brother, Ling Jihua, was the right-hand man and close ally of the former Party leader and has not been tried. He served until 2012 as head of the Chinese regime’s general office, a position comparable in U.S. politics to the president’s chief of staff.
Ling fell out of political favor following a lurid scandal involving his alleged cover-up of his son’s death in a speeding Ferrari.
Some political observers say Chinese leader Xi Jinping has used his anti-corruption drive, now in its fourth year, as a tool to clear out political rivals within the party and consolidate power. The campaign shows no sign of easing.
MORE:China’s Xi Jinping Signals Coming Purge of Former Regime HeadFormer Head of China’s Secret Police, Li Dongsheng, Sentenced to 15 Years’ ImprisonmentBeijing ‘Tiger’ Ousted in Anti-Corruption CampaignAll Departments in Chinese Regime Now Targeted by Anti-Corruption Investigators
The Party hopes the campaign will help restore its reputation and rebuild trust among the Chinese public, while beefing up internal regulations to stem further corruption.
Discipline officials said on Jan. 15 that the investigations have been unbiased and more than 330,000 party members have been punished.
Wu Yuliang, the anti-corruption agency’s deputy secretary, said the campaign has won approval from the public and will continue with “undiminished force, unchanged rhythm, unmitigated scale.”

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Since meeting with former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger on Nov. 2, Wang Qishan, the head of the Chinese Communist Party’s internal disciplinary agency, hasn’t made a single public appearance by himself. That’s nearly two months. Meanwhile, Wang’s deputies have been busy lecturing and investigating wayward cadres all around China.
His absence has been conspicuous and noted in the Chinese press. Popular Chinese Web portal Sina, for example, wrote a piece asking, “With Wang gone for over a month, what ‘big move’ is the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection planning?” (Actually, Wang has made perfunctory appearances, along with other members of the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, since Nov. 2, but he has never been featured in a solo appearance since then, which triggered the current speculation.)
Wang’s disappearance from public view is the subject of speculation in Chinese media because over the last couple of years, Wang’s lengthy absences have always been followed by the fall of a “big tiger”—a Party term for high-ranking cadres, still in office or retired, who are widely suspected of corrupt activity.
Analysts say that Wang is likely preparing to take down members in the inner circle of Jiang Zemin, the former Party leader whose political faction, which had effectively run China for decades, has been decimated by Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign.
The last time Wang “disappeared” in July, General Guo Boxiong, the former No. 2 in China’s military, was expelled from the Party and handed to military authorities to be prosecuted.
Shortly after Wang resurfaced after “disappearing” from May to June last year, the late General Xu Caihou, Guo’s counterpart in the Central Military Commission, and former security czar Zhou Yongkang, were formally investigated for corruption.
In this instance, it has been nearly two months since Wang met Kissinger at Zhongnanhai, the leadership compound in Beijing for the Party’s elite.
MORE:Son of Chinese Revolutionary Tells Xi Jinping to End Communist Party’s Dictatorship5 Signs the Past Is Catching Up With Ex-Chinese Leader Jiang Zemin
During Wang Qishan’s latest absence, seven of his deputies—Zhang Jun, Wu Yuliang, Liu Jinguo, Yang Xiaodu, Wang Lingjun, Xiao Pei, and Chen Yong—visited 25 different Chinese cities, regions, and provinces to brief Party cadres on the updated Party disciplinary standards and regulations, which will be rolled out in January.
Party officials were investigated wherever Wang’s seven deputies lectured, sometimes even during the lunch recesses. According to Chinese business publication Caijing, Bai Xueshan, the vice chairman of Ningxia Autonomous Region, was arrested by disciplinary officers during a brief break in an all-hands cadre meeting there.
Ensuring that Party cadres run a tight ship in China isn’t the only thing concerning Wang and his seven deputies.
“When these high-ranking CCDI officials went to the various places, they weren’t there only to explain new discipline regulations,” recently wrote Zhou Xiaohui, a columnist for the Chinese edition of the Epoch Times. “They were there to oversee the next step of the anti-corruption campaign or even to do the preparatory work for Wang Qishan’s next ‘tiger’ takedown.”
“If a ‘big tiger’ is indeed purged or reported to higher authorities, he will be at least a deputy at the state level or a retired elite cadre with political influence,” Zhou wrote. Therefore, he speculated that “Zeng Qinghong and Ling Jihua are thus two likely candidates” for a takedown after Wang re-emerges.
Zeng Qinghong, the former vice president of China, is ex-Party boss Jiang Zemin’s powerful backroom operator and hatchet-man. While Ling Jihua, formerly a top aide to former Party leader Hu Jintao, was investigated in 2014 and expelled from the Party this July, he has yet to be formally prosecuted and sentenced.
MORE:Inscription Reportedly by Former Chinese Regime Leader Jiang Zemin Removed From Party SchoolXi Jinping Cleans House in China
Political commentator Zheng Jiangwei told New York-based broadcaster New Tang Dynasty Television that Wang Qishan’s “disappearance” was in step with Xi Jinping’s military reform, a move that analysts say was in part carried out to consolidate Xi’s control of the military and his power.
“The dispatching of top CCDI officials from Beijing was actually a form of intimidation under the name of ‘providing guidance,’” Zheng said. “Its purpose is maintaining order and stability within the Party as the military is undergoing reform.”
And the “tight coordination” between the Wang and Xi suggests that “the top leadership is planning on making a major move,” he added.
In Zheng’s opinion, Wang and Xi are playing a game of chess, and their endgame is likely the arrest of Jiang Zemin. Once Xi Jinping fully controls the military, “the checkmate of the Jiang faction will become a reality,” Zheng said.

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As the Chinese saying goes: “A large tree has deep roots.” This was demonstrated recently when Communist Party investigators announced that they had scored a victory in arresting a network of corrupt officials in the western province of Sichuan, all of whom enjoyed a common political patron: the former head of the Party’s vast internal security apparatus, Zhou Yongkang.
Zhou left office in late 2012, and was sentenced to life imprisonment this June after a lengthy corruption investigation. Observers of Chinese politics widely understood the takedown of Zhou Yongkang to have been inspired by his political rebellion from the Party leadership, rather than the actual (and substantial) corruption he engaged in.
The news that 13 of the 22 cadres recently investigated and removed from office in Sichuan were Zhou Yongkang’s men shows the longevity of political cronyism in China. The news also indicates how powerful officials, in their posts around China, are apt to build networks of personnel loyal to them, thus facilitating flows of money, power, and more relationships.
The most recent official to be purged in Sichuan was Li Kunxue on Nov. 24. He had served as deputy general secretary of the Communist Party branch in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan.
Rapid advancement in his career owed to his allegiance to Zhou, Chinese media reported, showing how during the three years of Zhou’s reign as Sichuan Party Secretary (1999 to 2002), Li was promoted from the secretary of a county-level Party Committee to the Party’s standing committee in Chengdu, and then to his current post in 2012, when Zhou Yongkang was head of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which controls China’s domestic security apparatus.
Zhou’s network of power across China is hard to estimate, but he seems to have developed and maintained loyalists wherever he went: in Sichuan, in the petroleum sector, and in the security system. According to Wang Dongming, general secretary of Sichuan Province, whose remarks were conveyed by Beijing News, Zhou has been “interfering with Sichuan’s political affairs for a long time and has had a severe impact on the local political ecology.”
Another official, Zhao Miao, a member of the Communist Party standing committee in Chengdu, who was taken down last year, also had a close relationship with Zhou’s family and friends, according to Beijing News, citing a source familiar with the situation. Zhao regularly greeted and entertained members of Zhou Yongkang’s family when they visited, the report said.
Apart from ties to Zhou Yongkang, 10 of the 22 fallen officials were also found to be cronies of Li Chuncheng, a key aide to Zhou who was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment this October. His crimes were “helping others gain illegal benefits, and causing great harm to public funds under the orders of Zhou Yongkang.”
The extent to which the loyalists networks of Zhou Yongkang and Li Chuncheng overlapped was not clear from the reports.

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  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/matthew-robertson/" rel="author">Matthew Robertson</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a> and <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/juliet-song/" rel="author">Juliet Song</a> <a href="http://EpochTimes" title="" rel="publisher"></a>
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MatthewRobertsonPart2MatthewRobertsonPart2

Epoch Times China editor Matthew Robertson talks about Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States and the challenges that the U.S. faces in its relations with China. He also talks about what’s behind Xi’s anti-corruption campaign and China’s recent economic woes.

See part I here.

Read the full article here

Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) and Ray Conner (2nd L), president and CEO Boeing Commercial Airplanes, tour the Boeing assembly line on September 23, 2015, in Seattle, Washington. ( Jason Redmond-Pool/Getty Images)Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) and Ray Conner (2nd L), president and CEO Boeing Commercial Airplanes, tour the Boeing assembly line on September 23, 2015, in Seattle, Washington. ( Jason Redmond-Pool/Getty Images)

Epoch Times China editor Matthew Robertson talks about Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States and the challenges that the U.S. faces in its relations with China. He also talks about what’s behind Xi’s anti-corruption campaign and China’s recent economic woes.

See part II here.

 

Read the full article here