Publication: China Brief Volume: 3 Issue: 1

By Willy Wo-Lap Lam

New Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chief Hu Jintao is relying on two primary weapons in waging what could be a protracted struggle against the Jiang Zemin or Shanghai Faction: legalism and populism. By stressing the imperative of obeying laws and regulations, he is reminding President Jiang and his protégés that they must play by the rules of the power game. And Hu, who spent twenty-one years in three poor, western provinces, is trying to enhance his national stature by positioning himself as a spokesman for the downtrodden masses.

Hu was elected party general secretary last November, and one of his first major moves was to initiate the equivalent of an ideological campaign to safeguard the sanctity of the constitution and the laws. This was the theme of the first so-called Politburo learning session, called late in December, when all twenty-five members of the supreme ruling council listened to the lectures of two famous professors of law, Xu Chongde and Zhou Yezhong.