SHAKE-UP STIRS PARTY FEARS

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation -

The unceremonious dis­missal March 15 of high-rank­ing com­mu­nist of­fi­cial Bo Xi­lai — the pow­er­ful party chief of the world’s largest me­trop­o­lis, Chongqing — is caus­ing ma­jor con­cern over the Com­mu­nist Party’s abil­ity to con­trol the ul­ti­mate guar­an­tor of the regime, the 2.28 mil­lion­strong Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA).

Mr. Bo, a flam­boy­ant mem­ber of the 25-man col­lec­tive party dic­ta­tor­ship group called the Polit­buro, had a pen­chant for fan­ning Maoist pop­ulism. He was purged af­ter his po­lice chief and vice mayor, Wang Li­jun, walked into the U.S. Con­sulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6 and stayed overnight there in what ul­ti­mately was a failed at­tempt to seek po­lit­i­cal asy­lum.

In clean­ing up the po­lit­i­cal fall­out Mr. Bo cre­ated in Chongqing, Bei­jing lead­ers dis­cov­ered a far more fright­en­ing as­pect of Mr. Bo’s am­bi­tion: his as­sid­u­ous ef­forts to in­fil­trate the army lead­er­ship to pre­pare for a pos­si­ble mil­i­tary coup if his po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tion were not ful­filled, ac­cord­ing to the re­ported con­fes­sions of the cur­rent mayor of Chongqing, Huang Qi­fan, who un­til a week ago had been Mr. Bo’s hench­man and spin doc­tor for public me­dia on the Wang Li­jun scan­dal.

Ac­cord­ing to an in­side source from the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, Mr. Huang re­vealed a plot to in­ter­nal party in­ves­ti­ga­tors who had been dis­patched from Bei­jing.

“Bo Xi­lai told me re­peat­edly that he had ac­tual con­trol over at least two PLA army corps and that if ‘that idiot Xi Jin­ping’ re­ally be­comes the suc­ces­sor to Hu Jin­tao, [Bo] would im­me­di­ately or­der the troops into Bei­jing and elim­i­nate those SOBS!” Mr. Huang said.

The first scare of a pos­si­ble mil­i­tary ac­tion taken by Mr. Bo oc­curred in Novem­ber, when Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao was out of the coun­try in Hawaii for an Asia-pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion meet­ing.

In Mr. Hu’s ab­sence, Mr. Bo staged a large, bois­ter­ous mil­i­tary ex­er­cise in Chongqing. He in­vited China’s de­fense min­is­ter, Gen. Liang Guan­glie, and all other lo­cal party strong­men in south­west­ern China to at­tend, in vi­o­la­tion of a se­ries of Com­mu­nist Party pro­ce­dural taboos with re­gard to troop move­ments.

Mr. Bo be­longs to the pow­er­ful fac­tion of “princelings” whose fa­thers were found­ing mem­bers of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China. The princelings con­sti­tute about 40 per­cent of the cur­rent 25-man Polit­buro.

Although civil­ians ex­er­cise the dom­i­nant in­flu­ence in the Polit­buro, princelings oc­cupy a grow­ing num­ber of im­por­tant po­si­tions in the high­est ech­e­lons of the army. Those princelings’ links to the army worry the party’s high com­mand most.

In ad­di­tion, Zhou Yongkang — Mr. Bo’s fel­low princeling in the Polit­buro and China’s in­ter­nal se­cu­rity chief, who com­mands a vast, 1.2 mil­lion-mem­ber para­mil­i­tary force called the Peo­ple’s Armed Po­lice — is widely known as Mr. Bo’s clos­est po­lit­i­cal ally. He also was im­pli­cated in the Wang Li­jun scan­dal, ac­cord­ing to var­i­ous news re­ports in China.

On Mon­day, the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Daily, mouth­piece of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, pub­lished an un­usu­ally timed ed­i­to­rial call­ing for the army’s “ab­so­lute obe­di­ence to the com­mand of the [party’s] Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion and Chair­man Hu.”

Such ed­i­to­ri­als in the past fol­lowed ma­jor hol­i­days or an­niver­saries. Some are pub­lished in an ap­par­ent bid to squelch an in­ter­nal cri­sis by sig­nal­ing to the public that a ma­jor purge is in the off­ing. Mon­day’s date, March 19, car­ries no po­lit­i­cal or cel­e­bra­tory sig­nif­i­cance in China.

“We must un­equiv­o­cally op­pose all kinds of er­ro­neous ideas and al­ways lis­ten to the party and fol­low the party,” an ed­i­to­rial urged the troops.

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