Beijing (AsiaNews) – Retired senior officials from China's Communist Party "continue to exert influence of government department. Through the 'heirlings' appointed to high positions while they were in office, they try to intervene in crucial decisions that should be left to the executive. By doing so they are weakening cohesion within the Party and put their successors in the embarrassing positions". This is the harsh accusation contained in an editorial in today's People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese ruling party.
The text is signed by Gu Bochong, the People's Liberation Army officer in charge of the Political Department, and was published as the leaders of the CCP gather in the Beidaihe resort for the annual informal consultation between the various communist leaders. Although no "senior official in retirement" is directly named Chinese analysts believe that this is a clear warning to Jiang Zemin, former president of the country and leader of the so-called "Shanghai Gang" which is still very influential in national politics .
The article is very harsh in its tone: "If decisions are made against their wishes, they accuse serving officials of being superior and aloof. Such lingering influence puts their successors in an awkward position and weakens the cohesion of the party. Retired officials and their families should adapt themselves to retirement, which means making fewer public appearances than previously". The commentator also called on serving officials to strike a balance between being respectful to retired cadres and establishing stricter rules to prevent them from maintaining their former influence".
Concluding the article compares the retired leaders and the temperature of tea: "The tea must cool after the guest left, otherwise it will go bad,” it said. “It should become a norm that when you leave office, you leave your opinions behind . " One online commentator pointing to this metaphor wrote: "What happens if the jasmine tea always want to stay hot? It must be thrown away". The word "jasmine" in Chinese is pronounced "jiang", just as the former president of the nation.
According to some analysts, the attack fits in today's anti-corruption campaign launched by President Xi Jinping when he came to powerr in 2012. During the campaign some of the key leaders of previous administrations have been felled, such as the former mayor of Chongqing, Bo Xilai. But the most distinguished "prey" to date is undoubtedly the former national security chief Zhou Yongkang, the first Politburo member to be tried and sentenced to life imprisonment in the history of Communist China.
Zhou has always been considered a key ally and a protégé of Jiang Zemin - who reigned from 1989 to 2002 - although most of his power has materialized during the "Fourth Generation" led by Hu Jintao.