China’s New Rulers: What They Want

Following are the members of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee, whose election is expected in November 2002, listed by their rank according to protocol, with their main Party and future state positions. Ages are given as of November 2002; the positions listed are in addition to the policy-making duties of PBSC membership.

  1. Hu Jintao, 59; Party General Secretary; State President; Central Military Commission Chairman. He is described as the “Core” of the Fourth Generation.

  2. Li Ruihuan, 68; National People’s Congress Chairman

  3. Wen Jiabao, 60; Premier of the State Council

  4. Wu Bangguo, 61; Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman

  5. Luo Gan, 67; Secretary, Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission

  6. Zeng Qinghong, 63; Secretary, Party Secretariat

  7. Li Changchun, 58; Executive Vice Premier (a likely choice still under consideration)

The men who will take control of the world’s most populous country following the November congress of the Chinese Communist Party did not run for office or make public promises of change. Instead, they were considered and approved for promotion by the outgoing leaders, who could draw on detailed confidential reports on each of them compiled by the Party’s secretive, highly trusted Organization Department. These reports form the basis of a remarkable new Chinese-language book, Disidai, or “The Fourth Generation,” which is being published in November in the US.

The Organization Department’s investigation reports include selections from each leader’s formal and informal remarks delivered confidentially during the past couple of years within Party circles. The quotations are intended to show the speakers’ views on a host of issues, including, for example, the plight of workers and farmers as China enters the World Trade Organization, how Party rule can be sustained, and relations with the United States. Since all the new leaders were already in official positions when they spoke, they explained and defended current policy. But they did so in ways that reveal their preoccupations, their priorities, and their styles of thinking, and their remarks offer some guidance to the ways in which they will govern China once they are in power.

The new rulers, each identified in our previous article and listed in the box on this page, will, as members of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC), set policy for every function of Chinese government, whether in economic planning, police control, or foreign affairs. In some of their statements the new members of the PBSC, led by the fifty-nine-year-old Hu Jintao, recognize the recent failings of Party rule and popular discontent over it, but they are …

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