BEIJING (AP) — For decades, Ho Ping has been making accurate predictions about China’s next leadership line-up.
But now, just days before China’s most important political conference of the decade opens on Sunday, a New York-based journalist said it made little sense given the power amassed by leader Xi Jinping. rice field.
“It’s no longer a question of who will be on the Standing Committee,” he said, referring to the handful of people who will be nominated to lead the ruling Communist Party for the next five years. “Whoever they are, they have one thing in common: they have to listen to Xi.”
This contrasts with earlier times when rival factions leaked obscene details to the foreign press, and reflects a consolidation of power that wiped out competitors and stifled internal dissent.
A decade ago, scandal after scandal rocked Beijing’s political system in the run-up to the last Communist Party Congress that brought Xi Jinping to power.
The hardest hit was the murder of a British businessman by the wife of brash, up-and-coming political star Bo Xilai. Mr. Bo was expelled from the party and sentenced to life in prison for bribery and corruption, eliminating Mr. Xi’s main rival.
Preparations leading up to this convention are quiet in comparison. Ho said the cliques, pluralism and open political differences that once existed within China’s one-party dictatorship are gone.
“China’s politics are entering a completely new phase,” he said.
Even during the time of Chairman Mao Zedong, who founded the Communist Party of China in 1949, there were competing factions. During his reign many politicians were purged, then reformed and purged again. Because Mao encouraged factional struggle to increase his own power.
After Deng Xiaoping’s death, leader Deng Xiaoping dramatically loosened controls, causing a booming economy and some liberalization. He also set term and age limits for party leaders, aimed at preventing the rise of powerful figures like Mao Zedong.
But Xi Jinping has wiped out those rules. The CCP has eased age limits, stopped explicitly naming successors to the Standing Committee, and eliminated term limits for China’s president. This paved the way for Xi to stay in power for his third term, his five years, possibly indefinitely.
That makes it more difficult to speculate on new appointments, Ho said. Four times since 2002, Mr. Ho has identified China’s leadership lineup by analyzing officials based on their age, education, work experience and relationships with other leaders. helped predict the
China’s new leaders are now much more likely to be hand-picked by President Xi on the basis of competence and loyalty, unbound by past precedents and with little of the factional bargaining that once took place. No, he said.
But analysts such as former Hong Kong journalist Willie Lam and Derek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute believe that Xi is still forced to compromise and retain or promote those who hold different views on China’s governance. said to have the potential to
Alfred Wu, a Singapore-based professor who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with China’s leaders as a journalist decades ago when Xi was governor of Fujian province, said he was skeptical about who might be appointed. Reliable information has become extremely difficult to obtain under the strict control of the state.
“It’s very difficult to have a substantive conversation,” he said of his former contacts. “They know it’s bad to talk about politics.”
Ho began his career in the 1980s with a national broadcasting station. When the pro-democracy movement came to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, Ho was there, writing for Hong Kong newspapers and contacting high-ranking officials. Convinced that bloodshed was inevitable, he left days before soldiers opened fire on protesters.
After slipping through the border to Macau, Ho moved to Canada and then the United States, settling in the New York suburb of Great Neck, which is home to a sizeable Chinese population.
After working for a Taiwanese newspaper, he founded the Chinese-language media group Mingjing (meaning “mirror”), which now operates news sites, magazines and bookstores in Taiwan and the United States.
He interacted with sources and exiles in a Chinese restaurant and his office in Great Neck, whose shelves were piled with books and pictures with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s leader in exile. I’m here. At times, he lashes out at the Communist Party and says he has no intention of going back.
Nevertheless, Ho calls China home, not America. His publications and his YouTube channel are available in Mandarin for Chinese audiences. In contrast to many dissident Chinese abroad, Ho often has a bleak view of American politics, criticizing the Chinese government for the failures of the American system and I am blaming the defect.
But one thing Ho appreciates about America is the freedom to speak up. “There are no police knocking on your door here,” he said.
Many of Ho’s competitors have spread conspiracy theories in the Chinese-language media abroad. One, a journalist with ties to Falun Gong, spread rumors of a coup in China last month that turned out to be false.
Ho’s media group, by contrast, focuses heavily on Chinese political gossip, but is largely factual. Ho predicted who would make up China’s next generation of leaders, but instead of exposing it, he set the game to let viewers make their own predictions.
Ho has sharply criticized Xi’s crackdown on press freedom, saying Beijing’s staunch propaganda and hardline diplomacy are ruining China’s global reputation.
But contrary to many Western observers, Ho suggested that Xi Jinping still has a chance to become a great leader. He said that if he used the cards correctly, Xi’s iron rule could ultimately keep China from collapsing and avert the fate of the Soviet Union.
“It’s very different from the China I imagined 30 years ago, but it’s not a simple return to the Cultural Revolution or a transition to Western democracy.”
Although some businessmen and intellectuals dislike Mr. Xi, Mr. Ho said he still enjoys broad support. Many have benefited from his programs to expand the social safety net and agree with his nationalist stance pitting China against the West.
Many Chinese have gone abroad and found the West not so great, he said. America’s aging subways and struggling railroads stand in stark contrast to China’s sparkling new infrastructure. The Chinese contrast electoral turmoil in the West with the stability under Xi Jinping, Ho said.
“China’s younger generation has strong national pride. It is a very strong foundation for Xi Jinping.”
According to Ho, the biggest danger is that Xi will rule for life and be surrounded by “yes men.” If the issue of his succession is not resolved, Ho said China could plunge into chaos, as it did during the last years of Mao’s administration. The question is how to inherit Xi’s power and who will inherit it.
“If he becomes a dictator for life, it will be a disaster for the world and a disaster for China,” Ho said.
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