Publication: China Brief Volume: 2 Issue: 23

By Willy Wo-Lap Lam

So far as its main purpose–ensuring a smooth, orderly political succession–is concerned, the 16th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress has spawned as many problems as it has solved. President Jiang Zemin, who was supposed to have handed over the baton at the just-ended conclave, seems as authoritative as ever. And the power base of newly minted party general secretary, Hu Jintao, remains tenuous even as the seeds for a vicious factional struggle between the 59-year-old vice president and powerful Shanghai clique politicians have been sown.

At the end of the Congress on November 14, Jiang underscored the CCP’s success in bringing about “a smooth handover from the old to the new.” However, the First Plenary Session of the new Central Committee held a day later endorsed a new Central Military Commission (CMC) with Jiang still hanging on to the post of chairman. And despite Jiang’s being now just an ordinary party member, he still precedes Hu, who heads the Communist Youth League (CYL) Faction, in terms of both official pecking order and media exposure.