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China's next leaders may be Hu, Deng again

HU HAIFENG: The son of ex-president Hu Jintao is an engineer by training.
China's next leaders may be Hu, Deng again

DENG ZHUODI: The grandson of Deng Xiaoping is a US-trained lawyer.


    Apr 04, 2016

    China's next leaders may be Hu, Deng again


    AS CHINESE President Xi Jinping was widely called a "princeling" before he reached the top, it should not be surprising that the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) might yet again tap the group with this label for its next batch of leaders.

    The only difference now is that the two "princelings" apparently on the way up are attracting much less attention than Mr Xi's cohort had in their time as political apprentices.

    That is because the two owed their rise more to their personal ability than their lineage, commented the United States-based Chinese website Duowei.

    Hu Haifeng, the 44-year-old son of former president Hu Jintao, was recently promoted to be acting mayor of eastern Zhejiang province's Jiaxing city, three years after he went there to assume some lesser roles.

    He is an engineer by training and had headed a technology company before entering politics.

    The other one is 31-year-old Deng Zhuodi, who recently became the deputy party secretary, or No. 2, of Pingguo county in south-western Guangxi region.

    The United States-trained lawyer, who first joined Pingguo's government in 2013 as deputy magistrate, is the only grandson of Deng Xiaoping - the man credited with China's opening up and modernisation following the end of the Maoist era in the late 1970s.

    According to an article in the Capitalnews online platform, it was no accident that Mr Hu's political debut happened in Jiaxing as the city is expected to catch up economically with neighbouring Hangzhou and Suzhou cities.

    What the city needs is more dynamic leadership and it should find that in Mr Hu, said the article.

    As for Mr Deng, China's Wepolitics news website said Pingguo was historically associated with his grandfather, who led a famous communist uprising in the region in 1929.

    President Xi, whose father had been part of the all-powerful Politburo, has been called a princeling to suggest that his elite background had enabled his rise.

    But Mr Xi had shown himself to be a tough fighter in his political career, like a number of princelings of his generation, including disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and current Politburo member Yu Zhengsheng, noted Duowei.

    They have all grown up touched by the messy politics of the Cultural Revolution.

    On the other hand, Mr Hu and Mr Deng, according to Duowei, were technocratic sort of princelings whose education was not as politicised as that of their seniors and geared more towards the West.

    "If it is all right for the Kennedys and the Bushes to dominate American politics, why should the princelings of China be blocked from entering politics, as some have suggested, simply because of their background?" asked the website.

    "Princelings are not one homogenous group," it added. "They should be assessed individually."

    But some Hong Kong and US-based websites believe the rise of Mr Hu and Mr Deng was deliberately engineered by older princelings like Mr Xi.

    The president sees a need to groom princelings from families known to be committed to the still relevant aspects of Maoism and support his brand of clean and pro-people governance, they said.

    Now into his fourth year as China's top man, Mr Xi deems it important to identify people whose ideology mirrors his.

    He could not solely rely on the over-zealous party officials and bureaucrats who might not understand at all what he really stands for, the foreign websites claim.

    For instance, Mr Xi recently ordered a stop to the propaganda onslaught on Ren Zhiqiang, a property mogul-cum-princeling, who had rapped the president in his blog for telling the country's official media that they must always toe the party line.

    An article by the CCP's central disciplinary arm also appeared at that time which highlighted a Chinese proverb: "The blunt view of one man is worth more than the concurring voices of a thousand."

    "There's even instruction not to address the president any more as Xi Dada," said one website, referring to the popular term of endearment for Mr Xi.

    "The president fears a personality cult might be forming around him," it added.