The fall from power of Chen Liangyu and the persistence in power of most members of the Shanghai Gang suggest that something new is afoot in Chinese elite politics. While this development seems difficult to understand using a traditional factionalism model of zero-sum games in Chinese politics, it is less confusing if interpreted in the context of newly emerging norms of “inner-Party bipartisanship,” a hypothesis that notes that leaders associated with the coastal development strategy pursued by Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong are now increasingly being balanced, but not overthrown, by those affiliated with the Chinese Communist Youth League networks headed up by Party secretary-general Hu Jintao. An examination of the fall of Chen suggests some of the new rules that are emerging to guide the country’s top leaders as they seek to manage inner-Party political conflict while maintaining rapid growth, social stability, and one-party rule.
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