- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

BEIJING China's Communist Party yesterday praised President Jiang Zemin's campaign to give capitalists a place in the ruling party but rebuffed the 75-year-old leader's efforts to retain influence after he retires from his two formal posts over the next two years.

A communique issued at the conclusion of China's Central Committee annual meeting yesterday praised Mr. Jiang's proposal for changes meant to broaden the reach of the party beyond its traditional role as "vanguard of the working class."

But there was no indication of whether the party was ready to embrace Mr. Jiang's plan to give capitalists a formal place in its charter.

Some observers had expected Mr. Jiang to try to add a key protege, Zeng Qinghong, to the Central Committee during the meeting. But Mr. Zeng wasn't mentioned in its communique.

Mr. Jiang's campaign is part of efforts to keep the party relevant to the Chinese populace after two decades of economic reform that have put more than half of China's economy into private hands.

Doctrinaire Marxists have rejected Mr. Jiang's proposal on ideological grounds. While the numbers of such opponents are small, other party figures are said to be uneasy at such sweeping, abrupt change.

Mr. Jiang's term as president ends in 2003, but he is expected to give up his more-important post as party secretary-general next year.

One concrete step reported yesterday at the end of the three-day session was the dismissal of two of the committee's own alternate members on corruption charges.

Shi Zhaobin took bribes to help a multibillion-dollar smuggling ring in the southeastern port city of Xiamen, according to a statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency and read on state television.

The smuggling ring is China's biggest corruption case since the 1949 revolution.

Mr. Shi, former deputy party secretary of the southeastern province of Fujian, took some $85,000 in bribes, the statement said.

The party recommended legal action against Mr. Shi, the statement said. Other officials convicted in the Xiamen case have been executed, while the businessman accused of leading the ring is fighting extradition from Canada.

Li Jiabin, former deputy party secretary in the province of Yunnan in China's southwest, was dismissed for taking $145,000 in bribes in an unrelated case, the statement said.

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