One important factor of recent Chinese politics has been that even when the Chinese leadership retire, they still exert a phenomenal amount of power.For example, look at former President Jiang Zemin. Despite the fact he has not been formally in charge since 2003 (and the fact he looked so very sleepy last week), Jiang was well-known to be exerting his vast influence during the build up to the current leadership transition.
Jiang, a member of the more conservative wing of the party, was battling with current leader Hu Jintao, who led a more reformist wing of the party. The problems were compounded by reports that Hu was planning on keeping control of China’s military for two years after he ended his run as president. — like Jiang and Deng Xiaoping had done before him. Fears of a power battle that could result in instability filled the press.
However, according to a report in Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbaum, an important deal may have been struck that would see Hu step down from all posts — and could end the practice of former leaders interfering.
From the English-translation of the article:
In a move to end the bitter internal struggle around the selection of the next top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, Hu Jintao will step down from all posts he now holds after the 18th National Congress concludes on Nov. 14.
According to several party sources, the decision to approve Hu’s retirement as general secretary of the party, national president and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) was made at a Nov. 11 internal meeting of high-ranking party officials.
Another decision made at that meeting was a systematic ban on intervention in the political sector by retired leaders, including the long-retired Jiang Zemin, 86, who preceded Hu, 69, in all three posts.