Jiang's blueprint in prime focus

BEIJING NOV. 9. Leaders of the Communist Party of China today rallied behind its chief executive and the President, Jiang Zemin, over his call for a new sense of direction in national affairs, even as the CPC held in-camera sessions during its ongoing congress. While Li Peng, a veteran CPC leader, praised Mr. Jiang for outlining ``guiding principles'' for the party and the country, China's Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji, was no less categorical in welcoming the Jiang initiative.

However, the emphatic and positive comments by Hu Jintao, China's Vice-President and a key leader of the CPC, indicated how the party was exploring ideas for refashioning its ideological foundation to meet the latest political and economic challenges. Mr.Hu described Mr. Jiang's "important thought of `Three Represents'" as "a long-term guiding theory of the Communist Party together with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought Deng Xiaoping Theory."

By endorsing Mr. Jiang's ideas as a new legacy of the CPC, these leaders did signal the possibility of a change at the helm of the party. In a different perspective, though, Mr. Jiang's sustainable relevance to the party was no less underlined by these leaders.

While the overwhelming vote of confidence in Mr. Jiang's leadership was exemplified by the tone and tenor of the statements by several important leaders, certain other references to the present helmsman of the CPC sounded like a vote of thanks to him for having steered the party and the country during the early and uncertain phase of the post-Cold War period.

Such subtle politics of ideology and personalities did not overshadow the ideas of statecraft in the current focus. While Mr. Jiang's formula for the future was replete with such ideas as "socialist democracy" and "spiritual civilisation" at one level, besides "centralism on the basis of democracy" and "democracy under centralised guidance" at another level, the party leaders were not at a loss to comprehend the intended nuances. As a result, the party leaders clearly let the cadre, whose ranks may soon witness a qualitative value-addition too, know that a brave new vision of the future Chinese polity was the substance of Mr. Jiang's latest agenda.

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