- The Washington Times - Friday, September 28, 2001

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIJING Zeng Qinghong, a key adviser and right-hand man to Chinese President Jiang Zemin, failed again for the third year in a row to be appointed to the Communist Party Central Committee's select 21-member Politburo.

A communique issued by the Sixth Plenum of the party's 15th Central Committee a three-day meeting of 329 elite party members that ended Wednesday did not mention him.

His ties to the president and Communist Party chief go back to 1986, when Mr. Jiang became mayor of the eastern commercial metropolis of Shanghai, where Mr. Zeng had run the party organization for two years.

Mr. Jiang moved on to Beijing in 1989, where aging party patriarch Deng Xiaoping put him at the head of the Communist Party after the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Until March 1999, Mr. Zeng was director of the coordination section of the elite Central Committee. He was promoted to "alternate" that is, not full member of the committee's powerful Politburo at the 15th party congress in 1997.

He now heads the organization department of the Central Committee in charge of nominations for posts within the immense political machine of some 63 million members.

Though the Central Committee refused to endorse his ally, its communique did endorse key ideological innovations introduced by Mr. Jiang.

"Jiang is a balancer," said Wong Yiu-chung, a China watcher at Hong Kong's Lingnan University. "He is trying to balance the interests of different groups at the same time."

The annual plenum gave crucial backing to Mr. Jiang's much-touted theory of the "Three Represents," a doctrine that, despite its arcane wording, could change the face of the Communist Party. Mr. Zeng, 62, is considered the spiritual father of the "Three Represents."

The theory holds that the party should represent businesspeople and cultural elites as well as the toiling masses a greater intellectual leap than made by any other ruling communist organization in history. The concept has stirred immense controversy from hard-liners and Communist purists.

In a sign that Mr. Jiang had overcome much of this resistance, state media suggested after the meeting that the "Three Represents" now ranks alongside the canons of communist thinking.

"The communist party should stick to Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tse Tung Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory, and follow the 'Three Represents,'" the official Xinhua news agency said.

This endorsement should guarantee a smooth ride for the "Three Represents" until a nationwide party congress in the second half of next year, when all the focus is likely to be on the theory, analysts said.

"Anyone trying to defeat this theory will be ousted," said Mr. Wong of Lingnan University. "So of course everyone will speak highly of it."

Mr. Jiang is set to relinquish his posts as party secretary-general next year and state president in 2003.

Getting Mr. Zeng a seat on the Politburo would have helped Mr. Jiang pull the strings even after retirement.

However, Mr. Jiang's failure to get his ally a full seat on the Politburo could indicate that he did not push the candidacy too hard, analysts speculated.

This may suggest that Mr. Jiang has already decided to stay on in some formal position of power most likely as chairman of the Central Military Commission, which controls the 2.5 million-strong armed forces.

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