Four: Villain Holding Sway
2: A Two-Faced Man
Deng Xiaoping’s children still recall the day Jiang Zemin was first invited to Deng’s residence. As he stood humbly before Deng Xiaoping, his face full of nervous smiles. Those in attendance that day didn’t take notice, having seen many a bootlegger before, the awkwardness of the sort was nothing new. When Deng Xiaoping happily introduced the new Jiang Zemin, as the Party’s General Secretary, people remained nonchalant, showed no interest.
Upon coming to Beijing, the first thing Jiang Zemin wished to do was frequent Deng’s residence. He was new to Deng’s place, and didn’t know anybody in the house. Be it in the corridors, or the courtyard of Deng’s place, whoever Jiang Zemin met, little kids being no exception, he would tuck in his guts, standing slightly aside, and say with a beaming smile: “After you.” The show of excess, though it delighted the kids, made the likes of cooks and bodyguards nervous. They felt, this had to be a schemer. The sense of discomfort with Jiang Zemin’s conduct, was shared by others.
It was well known that Deng Xiaoping smoked a lot. His nurse had to remind him constantly to smoke less. Jiang Ze-min himself a nonsmoker, was ever quick to brandish a lighter for Deng Xiaoping. While Jiang might have provoked the ire of several nurses, in the end, he won Deng’s heart. Usually, it was Deng’s nurses and bodyguards who would serve him teas or fetch his slippers. This gave Jiang Zemin an otherwise rare opportunity. On many occasions, he would rush to serve Deng tea or fetch his slippers, when he spotted a nurse or bodyguard about to do so. The onlookers were left at a loss for what to do. Even to this day, the children who were present back then, joke about Jiang’s flattery.
After the Gulf War, Deng Xiaoping had a tremendous sense of urgency when it came to expanding the economic reform, invigorating the market, and using the economy to contain the United States. However, Jiang Zemin, who held powerful political positions, was strongly against reform. Having put forth so much to climb the political ladder, Jiang Zemin surely would not back down. He thought a more open society and economy, would simply make people harder to control.
Deng began to regret having listened to Chen Yun and Li Xiannian, in hastily choosing Jiang to be General Secretary. His credentials, abilities, and popularity were far behind the other candidates. Many inside and outside of CCP, considered Jiang Zemin’s reign as merely a transitional period. To push forward the reform, Deng Xiaoping had no choice but to look for other candidates. He outright and completely excluded Jiang Zemin, in his considerations.
Deng Xiaoping went to Shanghai to meet with its Mayor Zhu Rongji and size him up. He felt Zhu Rongji was a man of extraordinary talent among the CCP high ranking officials, and somebody who understood economic affairs. And he had the courage and spirit to do solid works. Deng Xiaoping promoted him to the post of vice-premier of the State Council. In the meantime, Deng Xiaoping published a series of articles to support the reformist camp.
Jiang Zemin instigated the leftists in the CCP in Beijing, to attack and criticize the reform. He also dispatched staff to monitor Deng’s speech and activities in Shanghai. Jiang Zemin himself, was busy lobbying senior CCP members in Beijing who could constrain Deng Xiaoping. Deng learned of Jiang’s veiled opposition to him, and became quite dissatisfied with Jiang Zemin. He was prepared to replace Jiang Zemin with Qiao Shi and reinstate Zhao Ziyang.
In 1992, a special train departed from Beijing, speeding southwards. On the train was Deng Xiaoping, then 88 years of age, accompanied by his wife, daughter, and an old friend, China’s President, Yang Shangkun. This was the famous Deng Xiaoping Southern Tour. From Jan. 18 to Feb. 21. he journeyed through Wuchang, Zhuhai, and Shanghai, and delivered his Southern Tour Speech at Shenzhen.
Pushing to restart the stopped the reform wheels, Yang Baibing took a stand on behalf of the military, publicly supporting Deng’s speeches on the Southern Tour. And in turn, the military gave Deng the strongest backing. The press all over the country published Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour Speech. The tide suddenly had turned.
On June ninth, 1992, the Party school of the CCP Central Committee was guarded so heavily, as if to be facing a deadly enemy. Jiang Zemin, surrounded by Qiao Shi and a retinue of soldiers and police, entered the Institution’s Assembly Hall. Faculty and students laughed at Jiang Zemin and the scene, remarking Qiao Shi must have forced Jiang Zemin to come here. Jiang Zemin then proceeded, under pressure from Qiao Shi, to deliver a talk in supporting Deng’s Southern Tour Speeches. He felt this amounted to a loss of face, having been forced to come. His resentment towards Qiao Shi grew only deeper. One observer at the Assembly Hall commented: ” You can see that Jiang Zemin didn’t mean what he said. On the surface at least, he had made a show of obeisance”.
On June 21, Jiang Zemin’s mentor, Li Xiannian died of illness in Beijing. So greatly did Jiang fear the prospect of losing his position, that he couldn’t sleep or eat well. He thus made a secret visit to Deng Xiaoping, and offered a deep cutting round of self-criticism. Jiang Zemin swore with his life, eyes tearing up, to follow Deng, carry out the program of reform, and open up straight through to the end.
Of course, with Jiang Zemin’s mean spirit, this was not over yet. Not only did Jiang team up with Zeng Qinghong to kill Yang Shangkun in 1998, but he also, again with Zeng’s help, perpetually wanted Yang Baibing dead. Jiang’s dislike of the Yang brothers went beyond personal grudges, to include jealousy over the brother’s accomplishments. Jiang Zemin thought the Yang brothers as an obstacle to taking credit for Deng Xiaoping’s successful programs of reform.
And his envy towards Qiao Shi and Zhu Rongji were beyond measure. No matter it was Zhu’s fault or not, he’d find all kinds of trivial excuse to push him out, suppress and attack him. He hated Qiao Shi even more. After Deng’s death, Jiang Zemin, who is older, used age as an excuse to force the younger Qiao Shi to retire.
Jiang Zemin harbored hatred towards Deng Xiao-ping, his having wished to remove him from his post. This was not readily apparent of course, as Jiang Zemin always made an outward show of respect towards Deng Xiaoping. He silently cursed Deng for having arranged his successor. On this account he could hardly forgive Deng Xiao-ping. Immediately after Deng’s passing, Jiang Zemin began to punish the Deng’s family, sparing not even Deng’s bodyguards or cooks. On Aug. 22, 2001, the 97th anniversary of Deng’s birthday, Jiang banned the media from publishing any articles commemorating Deng.