Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Xi Jinping Heads for Third Term with Hu Chunhua as Prime Minister?
Kondo Daisuke / Journalist

September 20, 2022
On July 27, less than three months before the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China (October 16-), an unusually long article appeared on page 6 of the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. It was titled "With General Secretary Xi Jinping's important editorial on the 'Three Farms' activities as a guideline, we will struggle to open up a new phase of rural development and further proceed on all fronts”. The author was Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, 59.

From the very beginning, the thesis was full of praise for General Secretary Xi Jinping, and by my count, "Xi Jinping" appeared 51 times! Hu wrote, "Relying on the 'deep wisdom and intense love' of President Xi Jinping, ......" and so on, showing that he worshipped President Xi Jinping as if he were a god.

What I as a China watcher in Japan feel after reading this article is that Vice Premier Hu Chunhua is trying to appeal to President Xi Jinping that he can be a "modern version of Zhou Enlai”.

Zhou Enlai was the closest aide to Chairman Mao Zedong, who served as prime minister for 27 years from the founding of New China in 1949 until his death in 1976. Mao Zedong's long reign as "emperor of the modern era" was due in no small part to the outstanding administrative prowess and dynamism of his "rock-solid No. 2," Zhou Enlai.

The current president, Xi Jinping, is an ardent and committed admirer of Mao Zedong. However, Premier Li Keqiang, the number 2, could not become "Premier Zhou Enlai" for President Xi because their views are as different as "water and oil”. That is why Vice Premier Hu chose to come forward and say, "I can become Premier Zhou Enlai”.

Vice Premier Hu Chunhua was born in April 1963 to a farmer in Wufeng, Hubei Province. He was called the "child prodigy of Hubei," and at the age of 16, he was admitted to the Faculty of Chinese Literature at Peking University, one of the most elitist universities in China, where he graduated at the top of his class. After graduation, he worked for 14 years in the "farthest land" of Tibet, where he was promoted by Hu Jintao, then Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region Party Committee. After working at the headquarters of the Communist Youth League for four years from 1997, he was in Tibet again from 2001 to 2006. In 2006, he became the First Secretary of the Communist Youth League.

Why did Hu Jintao keep Hu Chunhua, who is like a son to him, "on ice" in Lhasa, a city at an altitude of 3,600 meters above sea level, just about the height of Mt. Fuji? According to one Chinese Communist Party official, it was because General Secretary Hu Jintao, the central figure of the "fourth revolutionary generation," was waiting for his power base to be consolidated. He did not return Hu Chunhua to Beijing until he saw for certain that Hu Chunhua, whom he wanted to be the center of the "sixth revolutionary generation," would not be kicked down by the Jiang Zemin faction, namely the "third revolutionary generation”. As I heard these words, I felt that I caught a glimpse of the fierce power struggle in the " Zhongnanhai" (Chinese Kremlin).

But in 2008, when the Hu Jintao administration successfully held the Beijing Olympics, Hu Chunhua, true to his first name’s Chinese letters, opened the "Spring Blossom”. He was ordered to become deputy secretary of the Hebei Provincial Party Committee, and in 2009 he became secretary of the Party Committee of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which was booming with a bubble economy.

When Hu Jintao handed over the general secretary's post to Xi Jinping in 2012, he installed Hu Chunhua as a member of the Central Political Bureau (the party's top 25), simultaneously appointing him as secretary of the Guangdong Provincial Party Committee. Guangdong Province is China's largest economic powerhouse. Hu probably considered that by placing Hu in Guangzhou, 2,200 km from Beijing, the risk of his being ousted by Xi Jinping would be reduced. It was "parental love," so to speak.

Five years later, when the 19th Congress of the Communist Party was held in 2017, the question of whether Hu Chunhua could be promoted to the position of Party Standing Committee member (the party's top seven members) was still open. If he could be promoted, it would pave the way for him to replace Xi Jinping as party general secretary (the party's top leader) at the next party congress in 2022.

The aforementioned Chinese Communist Party official further said. "In August 2017, two months before the 19th Party Congress, Hu Chunhua wrote a letter to Xi Jinping. It said, 'I am not qualified to be a Party Standing Committee member because I am still a novice. Instead, I would like you to let me push forward with work in the rural areas’. But he set one condition. He asked Xi to have him publish a signed article in the People's Daily on the economic development of Guangdong Province over the past four years and some months. General Secretary Xi Jinping agreed.

In other words, the 19th Party Congress became a stage where Hu Chunhua, by default, laid the groundwork for winning later. Hu Chunhua published a signed article in the August 30 edition of the People's Daily of the same year, describing the economic growth of Guangdong Province. Then, at the 19th Party Congress in October of the same year, General Secretary Xi Jinping did not elevate the "revolutionary sixth generation" to the Party Standing Committee.

The following March 2018, Hu Chunhua was appointed deputy prime minister in charge of rural affairs, the third among four deputy prime ministers. After more than four years of abeyance, Hu Chunhua has now finally decided to "go for the win". The selling point is that he is "Premier Zhou Enlai for General Secretary Xi Jinping.

For Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, the biggest rival is Li Qiang, who has been a loyal acolyte of President Xi Jinping since Xi’s days in Zhejiang Province, and whom Xi wants to make Premier.
Will it be Vice Premier Hu Chunhua or Li Qiang, Secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, who will be unofficially recognized as the new premier to be elected next March? We will find out at the party congress on October 16.

Daisuke Kondo is a special editorial board member of Kodansha.

The English-Speaking Union of Japan




習近平は胡春華首相と三期目へ?
近藤 大介 / ジャーナリスト

2022年 9月 20日
第20回中国共産党大会(10月16日~)開催まで3ヵ月を切った7月27日、中国共産党中央委員会機関紙『人民日報』の6面に、異例の長文の寄稿文が載った。タイトルは、「習近平総書記の『三農』活動に関する重要論述を指導のもととして、農村振興の新局面を奮闘して切り拓き全面的に推進する」。筆者は、胡春華副首相(59歳)だった。

冒頭から習近平総書記への礼賛に溢れ、数えてみたら、寄稿文には「習近平」が51回! も登場していた。「習近平総書記の『深い知恵と切々たる愛情』に根づいて……」などと述べ、習近平総書記をまるで神のように崇めているのである。

日本の中国ウォッチャーである私が、この寄稿文を読んで感じたのは、胡春華副首相が、「自分は『現代版周恩来』になれる」と、習近平総書記にアピールしたかったということだ。
周恩来は、1949年の新中国建国以降、1976年に死去するまで27年にわたって首相を務めた毛沢東主席の最側近だ。毛沢東が長く「現代の皇帝」として君臨できたのは、ひとえに「不動のナンバー2」周恩来首相の卓越した実務能力と行動力のおかげである。

その毛沢東主席を心底、崇め奉っているのが、現在の習近平総書記である。ところがナンバー2の李克強首相は、習総書記とは考えが「水と油」のため、習主席にとっての「周恩来首相」にはなれなかった。そこで「自分ならなれる」と、胡副首相が名乗り出たのだ。

胡春華副首相は1963年4月に湖北省・五峰の農家に生まれた。「湖北の神童」と謳われ、16歳で中国最難関の北京大学中国文学学部に合格。首席で卒業した。卒業後14年にわたって「最果ての地」チベット自治区に勤務し、チベット自治区党委書記を務めていた胡錦濤に見出された。1997年から4年間の共青団本部勤務を経て2001年から2006年まで、再びチベット勤務。2006年に共青団トップの中央書記処第一書記に就任した。
なぜ胡錦濤は、これだけ長期間にわたって、標高3600m(富士山山頂と同じ標高!)のラサに、息子のような胡春華を「氷漬け」にしたのか。中国共産党関係者は語る。
「『革命第4世代』の中心である胡錦濤総書記は、自分の権力基盤が固まり、『革命第6世代』の中心に据えようとする胡春華が、『革命第3世代』の中心である江沢民一派に蹴落とされることがないと見極めるまで、胡春華を北京に戻さなかったのだ」
この言葉を聞いて、「中南海」の権力闘争のすさまじさの一端に触れた気がした。

だが、胡錦濤政権が北京オリンピックを成功させた2008年、胡春華は名前の通り「春の華」を開かせた。河北省党委副書記を命じられ、2009年にはバブル経済に沸く内モンゴル自治区党委書記となった。2012年に習近平に総書記をバトンタッチした時、胡錦濤は胡春華を、中央政治局委員(党トップ25)兼広東省党委書記に据えた。広東省は中国最大の経済力を誇る省であると同時に、北京から2200㎞も離れた広州に置けば、習近平総書記に失脚させられるリスクも減らせると考えたのだ。いわば「親心」だ。

それから5年後、2017年に第19回共産党大会を迎えた時、胡春華が党常務委員(党トップ7)に上がれるかどうかが焦点となった。上がれば、次の2022年の第20回党大会で、習近平総書記に代わり党総書記(党トップ)を射止める道が開けてくる。

「19回党大会を2ヵ月後に控えた2017年8月、胡春華は習近平に手紙を書いた。それは、『自分はまだ未熟者だから、党常務委員になる資格はない。それよりも地方や農村の仕事に邁進させてほしい』という内容だ。だが一つだけ条件をつけて、『「人民日報」に、この4年数ヵ月の広東省の経済の発展ぶりについて署名で書かせてほしい』というものだった。習近平総書記はこれを承諾した」(前出の中国共産党関係者)

つまり19回党大会は、胡春華の「不戦敗」だったのだ。胡春華は、同年8月30日付の『人民日報』で、広東省の経済成長ぶりを綴った署名記事を書いた。そして同年10月の19回党大会で、習近平総書記は「革命第6世代」を党常務委員に引き上げなかった。

胡春華は翌2018年3月、農村担当の副首相に任命された。4人いる副首相の3番手である。そこからまた4年以上、雌伏の時を経て、今回満を持して「勝負」に出たというわけだ。そのセールスポイントは、「習近平総書記にとっての『周恩来首相』」ということだ。

胡春華副首相にとって、最大のライバルは、習近平総書記が浙江省時代から忠臣とし、首相にしたい李強・党中央政治局委員兼上海市党委書記である。来年3月からの新首相に内定するのは、胡春華副首相か、李強上海市党委書記か。発表されるのは10月16日だ。

筆者は講談社特別編集委員
一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟


English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Xi Jinping Heads for Third Term with Hu Chunhua as Prime Minister?