Hu Dehua, the son of former Communist Party general secretary Hu Yaobang. (Photo/CNS)
Negative comments made about Chinese president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping by Hu Dehua, the son of former Communist Party general secretary Hu Yaobang, has led to suggestions that China's "princeling" faction is fracturing, reports Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.
Earlier this week, the transcript of a speech Hu gave at an informal discussion forum in February was uploaded onto Weibo, the most influential social media platform in China, and went viral almost instantly. During the speech, Hu criticized comments made at the start of the year by Xi, who said that China cannot use its post-reform history to deny its pre-reform history.
If Xi does not deny China's pre-reform history dating back more than 30 years ago, Hu said, then that means he accepts that his father Xi Zhongxun was a "counter-revolutionary" who once tried to subvert the party. Xi Zhongxun, one of the first generation of Chinese leaders, was purged, persecuted and jailed by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution and was not rehabilitated until 1975.
Hu's comments could be seen as a veiled reference to his own father Hu Yaobang, who was an ally of Xi Zhongxun and remains a sensitive name in Chinese politics because it was his sudden death that sparked the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square in 1989, eventually leading to the infamous crackdown by the government on June 4.
Hu said the Communist Party could learn from its past mistakes like Taiwan did from the 228 Incident of 1947, when the ruling Kuomintang killed tens of thousands of anti-government protesters in a bloody showdown. While the incident was officially a taboo subject for decades, February 28 is now commemorated as an annual national holiday in Taiwan, with victims exonerated from all crimes.
According to internal party sources, Xi was said to have lamented the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 during his trip to southern Guangdong province last December, though Hu believes there is nothing to lament because the collapse of the Soviet Union came about from the monopolization of political power and resources.
A government can make it up to its people by owning up to the mistakes of the past and acknowledging the truth, Hu said, pointing to how the KMT was able to be re-elected after facing up to the atrocities of the 228 Incident. That is the correct and sensible solution to such a problem, he added.
Hu's comments about Xi has led to suggestions that there is a fracture in China's princeling faction — comprising the offspring of former high-ranking officials — of which both Xi and Hu are prominent members.
Independent academic Chen Ziming believes there are many princelings who share the same views as Hu, including Chen Xiaolu, the son of party elder Chen Yi, and Ma Xiaoli, the daughter of former Shaanxi politician Ma Wenrui. On the other hand, Chen said, there are also many princelings who support whoever is in power, though most of them only do so because it would benefit their financial position.
The fact that Xi's comments on the Guangdong trip were not made public, however, shows that he has no intentions of being a left-wing leader, Chen said, adding that Xi still intends to be a leader for "all the people."
Xi Jinping 習近平
Hu Dehua 胡德華
Hu Yaobang 胡耀邦
Xi Zhongxun 習仲勳
Chen Ziming 陳子明
Chen Xiaolu 陳小魯
Chen Yi 陳毅
Ma Xiaoli 馬曉力
Ma Wenrui 馬文瑞