CCP Factionalism?

Posted on October 14th, by matt_schiavenza in Uncategorized. 1 Comment

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?

One Response to “CCP Factionalism?”

  1. Matthew Stinson says:

    This is one of the ways Chinese politics can factionalize but I would be careful about reading too much into this particular difference. After all, Chinese care greatly about the interests of their children, and what is the child of a careerist but a princeling? Hu’s comrades might dislike those who inherited their rank but they wouldn’t deny their own blood the keys to the kingdom out of principle.

    That said, we can glean a few things from these articles. The most obvious seems to be that in many ways Xi is a not ready for prime time player. Flirting with Jiang’s clique when Hu can still hurt him is about as unwise as his undiplomatic foreign policy debut a few months back. He’s still probably getting the top spot but I bet Hu will be able to hold on to some powers longer than Jiang did.

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