- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 26, 2003

BEIJING — China’s Communist Party leader has been forced to tone down a key speech in what appears to be hard-line resistance to hints of political reform.

The speech by President Hu Jintao, who also is the party’s general secretary, next Tuesday, on the anniversary of the party’s founding in 1921, was to include a passage on changes to the party’s constitution and to outline the introduction of some internal democracy at local and provincial level.

Insiders say details were leaked to the press in Hong Kong and abroad. The party feared that the speech would be interpreted as a move toward liberal reforms and as a sign of the political demise of Jiang Zemin.

The speech will now refer briefly to democratization, but will concentrate mainly on the importance of implementing the decisions of the 16th Party Congress last November, Mr. Jiang’s swan song as party leader.

It will also prepare the way for a propaganda campaign this year based on the theory of “the Three Represents,” Mr. Jiang’s often-ridiculed philosophy under which the party is supposed to represent the interests of all three elements of society — capitalists and entrepreneurs, as well as the working class and intellectuals.

Mr. Hu became general secretary of the party in November and president of China in March. But Mr. Jiang, who came to power after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, remains political boss of the People’s Liberation Army, and a power struggle is being fought between the two.

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