COMMUNIST CHINA: FACE SAVING OR FACE LIFTING?

Created: 5/7/1971

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Communist China: Face Saving or Face Lifting?

large May Day turnout in Peking last week shed Irttle light on the intensified infighting that has wracked China's ruling elite over the past year. Instead, the regime's handling of three prominent absentees and its refusal to list the remaining politburo members who appeared alongside Mao Tse-tung and heir-designate Lin Piao in any sort of authoritative pecking order indicate that Peking is still unable to solve its difficult leadership equation.

The most notable absentees were politburo standing committee members Chen Po-ta and Kang Sheng. Chen, Mao's personal secretary, and Kang. the regime's top security specialist, played leading roles in Mao's sweeping purges of the old Communist Party apparatus. According torumors circulating in Peking's diplomatic circles. Chen and Kang were severely criticizedajor party gathering last fall, and both have been out of sight for some time.

Peking attempted to rationalize the absences with the lame excuse that some leaders were unable to be present due to "work orhe Chinese nave never before resorted to this device to explain the absence of importantAt this stage it seems premature to conclude that both men. long close allies of Mao. have been finally divested of all responsibility within the leadership, but their continued absence fromview strongly suggests that they haveajor setback.

The fluidity of the current leadershipin Peking was also affirmed by the absence

from the ceremonies of politburo member Hsieh Fu-chih, who came under fire last year,from leftist elements in the regime. Although Hsieh was appointed head of the Pekingparty committee onarch, he did not deliver the customary address at the municipal congress and may not even have been preseni at the meeting. Hsieh's continued lingering in the shadows thus suggests thai there is still some pulling and hauling going on within the leadership over his political status.

Signs of continuing strains throughout the leadership hierarchy were also evident in the sober regime commentary on domesticin the authoritative editorial marking May Day. The editorial's stocktaking of internalwas surprisingly limited, particularly in view of the rapid quickening since last December in the formation of party committees at the provincial level andfirst order of domesticfor the past two years. Instead of indulging in self-congratulation, however, the editorial stressed the necessity for senior cadre to improve their understanding of Mao's "revolutionaryo combat resurgent revisionist influences, and to commit fewer mistakes. Such strictures have become the overriding theme in domestic propaganda in recent months, and theirnot only attests to the often broad gap between Peking's demands and the performance of local authorities but also reinforces thethat fundamental differences over policyare continuing to feed personalaqonisms at the top of the

TOR RELEASE

Communist China: Face Saving or Face lifting?

large May Day turnout In Peking last week shed little light on the intensified infighting that has wracked China's ruling elite over the past year, instead, the regime's handling of three prominent absentees and its refusal to list the remaining politburo members who appearec alongside Mao Tse-tung and heir-designate Lin Piao in any sort of authoritative pecking order indicate that Peking is still unable to solve its difficult leadership equation.

The most notable absentees were poi.tburo standing committee members Chen Po-ta anc Kong Sheng. Chen, Mao's personal secretary, and Kang. the regime's top security specialist, played leading roles in Mao's sweeping purges of the ole Communist Party apparatus. According torumors circulating in Peking's diplomatic circles, Chen and Kang were severely criticizedajor party gathering last fall, and both nave been out of sight for some time.

Peking attempted to rationalize the abserces with the lame excuse that some leaders were unable to be present due to "workhe Chinese have never before resorted to this device to explain the absence of importantAt this stage it seems premature to conclude that both men. long close allies of Mao, have been finally divested of all responsibility within the leadership, but their continued absence fromview strongly suggests that they haveajor setback.

The fluidity of the current leadershipin Peking was also affirmed by the absence

from the ceremonies of politburo member Hsieh Fu-chih, who came under fire last year,from leftist elements in the regime.Hsieh was appointed head of the Peking municipal party committee onarch, he did noi deliver the customary address at thecongress and may not even have been present at ihe meeting. Hsieh's continued lingering in the shadows thus suggests that there is still some puliing and hauling going on within the leadership over his political status.

Signs oi continuing strains throughout the leaoership hierarchy were also evident in tne sober regime commentary on domesticin me authoritative editorial marking May Oay. The editorial's stocktaking of internalwas su:o'isingly limited, particularly ir. view of the rapid auickening since iast December in the formation of party committees at the provincial leve: andfirst order of domesticfor the past two years. Instead of indulging in self-congratulation, however, the editorial stressed the necessity for senior cadre to improve their understanding of Mao's "revolutionaryo combat resurgent revisionist influences, and to commit fewer mistakes. Such strictures have become the overriding theme in domesticecent months, and theirnot only attests to the often broad gap between Peking's demands and the performance Of local authorities but also reinforces thethat fundamental differences over policy implementation are continuing to feed personal antaoonisms at the top of the regimeX

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