- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 2, 2001

BEIJING — President Jiang Zemin has saved his biggest battle for last: changing the bedrock dogma of China's Communist Party.
In July, Mr. Jiang surprised the world by inviting capitalists to join the ruling party. Now, as he nears the end of his years in power, he wants to give them a formal place in the charter that has guided the party through 80 years of war, revolution and reform.
Doctrinaire Marxists are furious.
Picking such a risky ideological fight is a striking change for Mr. Jiang, a cautious dealmaker who has survived as party leader for 12 years by avoiding battles.
But, having confounded skeptics who wrote him off even as he became party leader in 1989, the 75-year-old former soap factory manager has finally amassed enough power to force a major decision and make it stick.
"Jiang Zemin's position as 'first among equals' is now beyond dispute. You can't challenge him," said Joseph Cheng, director of the Contemporary China Research Center at the City University of Hong Kong.
Mao Tse-tung led China through its revolution. Deng Xiaoping unleashed forces of free enterprise that have turned it into an economic power.
To Jiang Zemin fell the task of meshing his country into the globalized world. While keeping up intense pressure on dissidents in defiance of human rights critics, he has presided over strong economic growth, launched a military modernization drive and led Beijing out of the diplomatic isolation that followed the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square.
Now he has set out to write a new party line.
Mr. Jiang's contribution to official theory maintains that the Communist Party — until now, "vanguard of the working class" — has to change and embrace forces that are creating jobs and prosperity in China. That means making peace with entrepreneurs who are viewed with suspicion and disgust by party hard-liners.
Mr. Jiang's term as president ends in 2003, but he is expected to give up his more important post as party general-secretary next year.

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