China’s Communist Elders Take Backroom Intrigue Beachside

Clutching a wooden cane and aided by an entourage of young people, the old man in a black silk shirt and matching shorts hobbled up the stairs to Kiessling, a decades-old Austrian restaurant not far from the teeming beaches of this seaside resort. He sat on the balcony and ordered ice cream. It was the best in town, he told his companions. At least it had been in his youth. “This man is a relative of Zhou Enlai,” restaurant manager said in a low voice to some foreigners at a nearby table, referring to the revered prime minister of China in Mao era. “He’s come here before. He stays in neighborhood where the leaders live.” In any other city, even Beijing, it would be unusual to casually run into a relative of Mr. Zhou. But it is midsummer in Beidaihe, which means one thing: Communist Party elders and their families are congregating here, about 180 miles east of Beijing, to swim and dine and gossip and to shape the future of world’s most populous nation. It is palace intrigue by the sea. In their guarded villas, current and past leaders will negotiate to try to place allies in the 25-member Politburo and its elite Standing Committee, at the top of the party hierarchy. The selections will be announced at the 18th Party Congress this fall in Beijing, heralding what is expected to be only the second orderly leadership transition in more than 60 years of Communist rule. “This is where the factional struggles are settled and the decisions are made,” said one resident, surnamed Li, who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity because of delicate nature of Chinese politics. “At the meetings in the fall, everyone just raises their hands.” Beidaihe is a Chinese combination of the Jersey Shore and Martha’s Vineyard, with a pinch of red fervor: hilly streets and public beaches are packed with shirtless Russians and Chinese families, while the party elites remain hidden in their villas and on their private patches of sand. A clock tower near Kiessling chimes “The East is Red,” a classic Mao anthem. The security presence has surged in recent weeks. Police officers in light blue uniforms patrol on Suzuki motorcycles and stand on street corners watching for jaywalkers. They have set up a checkpoint on the main road leading into town. The informal talks are expected to start late this month and run into August, continuing a tradition that went into partial eclipse after China’s top leader, Hu Jintao, took over from Jiang Zemin in 2002, and ordered party and government offices to stop more formal operations from seaside during the summer palaver. But Mr. Jiang reportedly chafed at that and continued hobnobbing here with his allies. There was a notable conclave here in 2007 Mr. Hu attended, to pave way for 17th Party Congress, according to scholars, State Department cable disclosed by WikiLeaks. In any case, politicking is inevitable when elders show up to escape stifling heat and pollution of Beijing (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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