To an outsider the Chinese Communist Party appears to be a monlithic force free of the factionalism that defines multi-party systems of government. In fact, this is not the case- the Chinese government contains divisions that might ring familiar with political observers elsewhere in the world.
This Foreign Policy article published earlier this year defines two dominant groups within the Communist Party. One consists of officials who have risen through the ranks of the Party beginning with the powerful Communist Youth League. The other, referred to derisively as ‘princelings’, have achieved power through more nepotistic means. In the US context, think of the backgrounds of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as a basis for comparison.
In an Asia Sentinel piece, author Willy Lam uses this form of Chinese ‘bipartisanship’ to speculate about a growing rift between China’s current president Hu Jintao and his likely successor Xi Jinping. In this narrative the long-time party stalwart Hu is pitted against the princeling Xi, the latter also making waves by his public praise for the Hu’s predecessor and rival, President Jiang Zemin.
Oh, Chinese politics- who says that China’s leaders are dull automatons?