- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

BEIJING Jiang Zemin relinquished his title as Communist Party leader yesterday, but held on to significant power including authority over China's military even as he ceded the party's top jobs to the little-known Hu Jintao and a younger generation of leaders.
Major policy changes on economic reform, Taiwan and other key issues appear unlikely following communist China's first orderly transfer of power.
Mr. Jiang, 76, won almost certain influence in coming years when six of his supporters were installed on the nine-member inner-communist circle, the Standing Committee of the Politburo, itself an inner circle of the party Central Committee.
Mr. Hu, 59, was groomed for a decade to succeed Mr. Jiang, and his elevation to party leader means he is certain to become president when Mr. Jiang's term ends next March.
In a ceremony yesterday announcing his appointment, Mr. Hu promised to adhere to capitalist-style reforms launched before Mr. Jiang came to power. That strategy took a leap forward this week when delegates to the party's congress adopted Mr. Jiang's "Three Represents" theory that calls for inviting entrepreneurs to join workers and peasants as party members.
"Chinese people of all ethnic groups will be more closely united to concentrate on construction and development in order to constantly push forward China's reform, opening up and modernization," Mr. Hu said at the brief, nationally televised appearance at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing.
He grinned and waved to the citizenry, many of whom know little about him and have rarely even seen him.
The soft-spoken former engineer who once built hydroelectric power stations was picked in the early 1990s as Mr. Jiang's successor by Deng Xiaoping, the late paramount leader who launched economic reform and also installed Mr. Jiang.
Mr. Jiang's efforts to cultivate a high international profile have made him famous and he is unlikely to disappear. Though it is unlikely he will wield as much influence as Mr. Deng did in retirement, his re-election to lead the party Military Commission gives him a formal way to exert continuing authority.
In keeping with Chinese communist tradition, Mr. Jiang remained the focus to the end, and his face dominated the front page of virtually all of Beijing's state-controlled newspapers yesterday morning. The rest of the day, though, was dominated by TV coverage of the previously press-shy Mr. Hu.
Mr. Jiang reappeared on the evening news dressed in a green, military-style uniform greeting other commission members. Mr. Hu walked behind him, grinning broadly, shaking hands, readying himself for the task ahead.
The makeup of the Standing Committee means Mr. Hu, like Mr. Jiang before him, will have to wait years to emerge from his predecessor's shadow.
Despite a decade at the center of power, Mr. Hu has kept his personality and politics a mystery to outsiders. The tactic was key to his rise in a system whose political landscape is littered with the wrecked careers of former heirs apparent who offended their patron or were linked too closely to a policy failure.
Diplomats and officials who met Mr. Hu on his trip this year to the United States and in other rare contact with foreigners say he left an impression of intelligence but little else. Most Chinese hadn't heard his voice until 1999, when he spoke on national television during anti-American rioting ignited by the NATO bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Some analysts look to Mr. Hu's decadelong tenure as president of the party's central training school for clues. Scholars there have been studying European social democratic parties, free-market economics and Western corporate management though it isn't clear what elements of these foreign ideas Mr. Hu might favor.
The eight members of the Chinese Communist Party's Standing Committee, in addition to Mr. Hu, are Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Zeng Qinghong, Huang Ju, Wu Guanzheng, Li Changchun and Luo Gan.


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