10/27/2022, 13.40
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Youth League faction is first ‘internal’ victim of Xi Jinping's total takeover

The Communist Youth League, the Party’s reserve team, has been excluded from the regime’s ruling body for the first time since 1978. Rumours continue to fly about former President Hu Jintao’s removal from the 20th Congress. A new opposition to Xi will emerge sooner or later.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Youth League faction is the first "internal” victim of Xi Jinping's total takeover.

At the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which ended on 22 October, the general secretary (and head of state) won a third term in office, making him the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

Since taking office in 2013, Xi has sought to systematically weaken the League, a powerful faction within the Party linked to his predecessor Hu Jintao and outgoing Premier Li Keqiang.

To this end, he began first with his popular anti-corruption campaign (or purge, according to many observers) to marginalise the group.

The Communist Youth League’s declining membership is symptomatic of its fate during the Xi era. Between 2012 and 2021, it dropped from 90 million members to 74 million while its budget fell from 700 to 260 million yuan (from US$ 96 million to US$ 35 million).

Symbolically the League’s defeat played out on the last day of the Congress with Hu Jintao’s physical removal. The official line is that the former president is ill, possibly with Parkinson, but the video shows his reluctance to leave the scene.

With Li Keqiang and Wang Yang, current members of the Politburo Standing Committee, but not included in the Central Committee, the League’s fall seemed inevitable, becoming official last Sunday, 23 October, with the presentation of the new CPC leadership.

All the members are Xi’s men, who chose Li Qiang, CPC leader in Shanghai, as the new premier, even though he was criticised over the past few months for the disastrous handling of the COVID-19 lockdown in China’s most populous city.

Xi also ousted Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, a Hu protégé who was thought of as a possible premier just before the Congress.

Excluded from the seven-member Standing Committee of the Politburo, China’s main decision-making body, "little Hu" is not even one of the 24 members of the less influential Politburo.

He might still be in the Central Committee, but his political career seems to have come to an end even if he is only 59 years old.

As Think China points out, this is the first time since 1978 that a League member has not been included in the Politburo.

Over the past four decades, the organisation has been considered the Party’s reserve team, providing two general secretaries (Hu Yaobang and Hu Jintao), and several members of the Standing Committee of the Party, all supporters of Deng Xiaoping’s policy of reforms and openness.

Analysts note, however, that Xi's victory over his domestic competition is only temporary. The CPC is too complex a reality and sooner or later a new opposition will emerge to challenge the supreme leader, who will likely try to remain in power until 2032 if not beyond.

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