September 25, 2005

China's Leader, Ex-Rival at Side, Solidifies Power

In the summer of 2004, Mr. Jiang, who had retained control over China's military after handing off his other titles to Mr. Hu, was viewed as competing with Mr. Hu for influence and creating a potentially dangerous rift in the power structure.

In one version of what followed, Mr. Zeng suggested to Mr. Jiang that he offer to resign ahead of the party's annual planning session that September. He implied that the resignation offer, which he suggested would be rejected by Mr. Jiang's loyalists on the Politburo, could clear the air and give Mr. Jiang a fresh mandate to retain his control over the military.

Mr. Jiang did something similar two years earlier, before an important party congress, and the tactic worked.

This time it did not. Mr. Hu, acting as vice chairman of the military commission, circulated Mr. Jiang's resignation among the military brass instead of the Politburo. Many military officers wanted to see the leadership transition completed and rallied around Mr. Hu as their new civilian leader. Mr. Jiang's resignation was then presented to the Politburo as a fait accompli.

Mr. Jiang, sidelined at his retreat in the Fragrant Hills outside Beijing, was described as furious and tearful when he realized he had been out-maneuvered.


In May, Mr. Hu and Mr. Zeng convened top officials to warn that just as governments in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan had been toppled, the government in China could be, too. They argued that the United States had fostered social unrest in those places and had similar designs on China, said people who said they had been told about the speeches.

They have since forced nongovernment organizations that focus on the environment, legal aid, health and education to find government sponsors or shut down. Many groups are also under pressure to stop accepting money from the United States and other foreign countries.

The leadership has also fired editors at publications that defied orders from the party's Propaganda Department, including, most recently, the bosses of the elite Workers' Daily newspaper and its associated publishing house, party insiders said. They have also tightened rules on foreign investment in China's television industry.

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