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China's ex-president Jiang suffers political blow

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

BEIJING, Aug 13 (Reuters) Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin suffered a political blow when his son and the security chief were left out of the running for seats in the Communist Party Central Committee, sources with ties to the leadership said.

The setback, coupled with the arrest of a former secretary to a late vice premier and a son of Shanghai's disgraced party boss, strengthened the hand of incumbent President Hu Jintao ahead of the party's five-yearly 17th congress in the autumn.

Jiang Mianheng, a vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and You Xigui, director of the party's Bodyguards Bureau, lost in Central Committee straw votes earlier this year, said the sources who requested anonymity.

''The elections were internal to sound out party members. The two men were unpopular with the masses,'' one source told Reuters.

The pair were not among 2,217 delegates to the 17th congress, and therefore cannot run for seats in the elite Central Committee, which has 198 full and 158 alternate members.

You is currently an alternate member. The Bodyguards Bureau provides incumbent and retired leaders with security personnel and is one of the country's most politically sensitive jobs.

The bad news for Jiang Zemin was good news for Hu, who has yet to fully consolidate power and shake off his predecessor's waning influence.

RESIDUAL INFLUENCE ''It's a sign You Xigui cannot stand for election to the Central Committee and is unlikely to stay on as director of the Bodyguards Bureau after the 17th congress,'' said Zhang Zuhua, a former party insider.

Jiang had used his residual influence earlier this year to force Hu to keep You on as chief bodyguard. At 68, You is past the compulsory retirement age of 65 for a three-star general.

Analysts said the political jockeying was unlikely to worsen into a showdown, as the world's fourth-largest economy attempts a delicate soft landing from dizzying economic growth.

Hu, 64, replaced Jiang, 81, as party boss in 2002, state president in 2003 and military chief in 2004, completing the country's first smooth generational leadership change since the 1949 Communist revolution.

In another sign Hu has grown in strength, Wang Weigong, a former secretary to late Vice Premier Huang Ju, was investigated for serious breaches of discipline. Huang, who ranked sixth in the party hierarchy, died in June.

The probe appeared to be an extension of a corruption inquiry that has toppled Chen Liangyu as party boss of Shanghai -- Jiang's political bailiwick.

Chen, the first Politburo member to be purged in 12 years, and a dozen officials and businessmen have been accused of misusing the city's pension funds.

In an indication of the limits to Hu's power, it took him 11 months to expel Chen from the party, compared with four months Jiang took to purge his main political rival in 1995.

Huang and Chen belonged to a network of Shanghai officials who owe their rise to Jiang, who was the mayor and later party boss of the city in the 1980s. They were widely reputed to be at odds with Hu over policy and influence.

The Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan weekly magazine said Chen's son, Chen Weili, was arrested in Malaysia and repatriated -- a blow to Jiang and his men.

REUTERS SKB ND1500

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