Hu to retire from all posts and end rule by retired leaders

November 14, 2012

By KENJI MINEMURA/ Correspondent

BEIJING--In a move to end the bitter internal struggle around the selection of the next top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, Hu Jintao will step down from all posts he now holds after the 18th National Congress concludes on Nov. 14.

According to several party sources, the decision to approve Hu's retirement as general secretary of the party, national president and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) was made at a Nov. 11 internal meeting of high-ranking party officials.

Another decision made at that meeting was a systematic ban on intervention in the political sector by retired leaders, including the long-retired Jiang Zemin, 86, who preceded Hu, 69, in all three posts.

The decisions were approved at an internal meeting of the National Congress held on Nov. 11.

The move is seen as an attempt to end political rule by party elders by proceeding with the implementation of stricter party personnel rules.

In the past, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang maintained influence over the political sector by remaining in the post of CMC chairman even after stepping down from top party posts.

Party sources said that Hu expressed his intention to retire from all posts at the internal meeting. While Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed Hu in the three posts, asked that he remain in some positions, Hu said he would fully retire if two conditions were satisfied.

The requirements were that all high-ranking party officials would not intervene in politics once they retired and that no exceptions would be allowed for personnel matters, including the CMC chairman's post.

The internal meeting in the end agreed to go along with Hu's offer.

Party sources were in agreement that a major aim of the move was to eliminate the influence of Jiang, who continued to influence political decisions even after retiring from all of his top positions.

Internal party regulations have established a retirement age for general secretary, but the post of CMC chairman is not covered by those regulations.

After stepping down as general secretary in 2002, Jiang remained as CMC chairman for about two years before eventually handing the job over to Hu.

Even after his retirement, Jiang created a new internal regulation that said he would receive reports on important party matters. That allowed him to have a say in decisions on personnel matters as well as important policy measures.

Hu had called for increased rule by law. Through his complete retirement from all posts, Hu is seeking to systematize personnel matters to prevent Jiang and other retired officials from further intervening in the political sector.

According to a party source, the move will mean that Jiang will have to vacate his office in the Zhongnanhai compound in central Beijing where the offices of major party organs are located.

The internal regulation to report all important party matters to Jiang will also be eliminated.

Preparations for the National Congress were hampered by the fierce factional struggle between the camps led by Hu and Jiang. Rather than rule of law, decisions were made based on the relationship others had with Hu and Jiang.

That struggle is a major reason no decision had been made for the top leadership corps even as the National Congress began on Nov. 8.

By playing his last major political card, Hu is hoping to resolve the matter of who is included in the Politburo Standing Committee.

With the move, Hu will step down as national president and turn that post over to Xi at the National People's Congress to be held next spring.

By KENJI MINEMURA/ Correspondent
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Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, and former Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrive for the opening session of the 18th Communist Party Congress held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 8. (Teruo Kashiyama)

Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, and former Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrive for the opening session of the 18th Communist Party Congress held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 8. (Teruo Kashiyama)

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  • Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, and former Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrive for the opening session of the 18th Communist Party Congress held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 8. (Teruo Kashiyama)

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