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Chinese president woos children of late leaders

Chinese president woos children of late leaders
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First Published: Thu, Mar 06 2008. 12 26 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Mar 06 2008. 12 26 PM IST
Reuters
Beijing: The sons of two iconic Chinese leaders are likely to become senior advisers to parliament, sources said, as President Hu Jintao moves to bolster power by wooing children of the Communist Party elite.
The two leaders are Deng Xiaoping, who freed China from the shackles of communism but who is better known in the West for sending in troops to crush pro-democracy protests centred on Tiananmen Square in 1989, and Hu Yaobang, who was purged in 1987 for being too liberal.
Both were both patrons of Hu Jintao, who was picked by Deng in 1992 as China’s fourth-generation leader after Mao Zedong, Deng himself and Jiang Zemin. Hu Jintao cut his teeth in the Communist Youth League then headed by Hu Yaobang.
“Hu Jintao is repaying a debt of gratitude,” one source with knowledge of the planned promotions told Reuters.
Deng’s wheelchair-bound son, Deng Pufang, 63, chairman of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, is expected to be named a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in mid-March, two sources with ties to the leadership said requesting anonymity.
Hu Deping, 65, eldest son of Hu Yaobang, is also tipped to become a vice-chairman of the advisory body to parliament, sources said. He is presently vice-minister of united front work responsible for winning over non-Communists.
The promotions, if confirmed, would make both men national leaders. A vice-chairman of the advisory body to parliament holds a rank equivalent to a vice-premier.
The advisory body, reached by telephone, declined to comment. It will not be the first time Hu Jintao will be looking out for “princelings” -- the children of incumbent, retired or late leaders -- a loosely knitted but influential interest group.
Deng Xiaoping’s daughter, Deng Nan, 62, a former vice-minister of science and technology, and Hu Yaobang’s son-in-law, Lieutenant-General Liu Xiaojiang, joined the Communist Party’s elite 204-member Central Committee last October.
Liu, 59 this year, was promoted to political commissar of the navy recently. Analysts said Hu Jintao, who doubles as Party and military chief, hoped to tap the lingering influence of both Deng Xiaoping, who died in 1997, and Hu Yaobang, who died in 1989.
“Hu Yaobang was pro-reform and is still popular among many in the Party today,” political commentator Liang Kezhi said. Deng Xiaoping’s image was tarnished after he sent in troops and tanks to crush the 1989 protests, but his legacy of introducing sweeping reforms which transformed China from an economic backwater into the world’s fourth biggest economy is undisputable.
He had been purged but bounced back from political wilderness to give more than 1 billion people the freedom to choose what to eat and wear, where to live, travel, study or work and when to marry, divorce or become pregnant.
His eldest son is paralysed from the waist down after mysteriously falling from a Peking University building in 1968 at the height the Cultural Revolution.
Chairman Mao Zedong plunged China into anarchy for a decade during the Cultural Revolution, mobilising radical youth in political campaigns marked by purges, jailings, killings and suicides. The chaos ended with Mao’s death in 1976 and his widow’s subsequent downfall.
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First Published: Thu, Mar 06 2008. 12 26 PM IST