Jiang eyes joining Mao, Deng in China’s list of greats

Jiang eyes joining Mao, Deng in China’s list of greats

BEIJING, Oct. 1 Kyodo

President Jiang Zemin apparently moved nearer Friday to joining Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping among China’s Communist Party greats when his portrait was carried alongside theirs for the first time in a Chinese national day celebration.

The display of Jiang’s visage joined those of his revolutionary predecessors during intricately planned mass celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of modern China, as a 500,000-strong procession passed in front of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Jiang, head of state and general secretary of the Communist Party of China, is the first of modern China’s leaders not to have suffered hardships in the country’s difficult gestation period.

Although head of the country’s Central Military Commission, he has no military experience, such as the participation of Mao and Deng in the Long March that killed thousands during the yearlong relocation of the party’s base to Yanan, Shanxi Province, from 1934.

While China professes to be a socialist society where decisions are made jointly by the party, the elaborate celebrations in front of Tiananmen Square on Friday were focused on one person — Jiang.

While Jiang was flanked by a panoply of Chinese leaders atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace, he alone was transported by an old-fashioned Red Flag limousine to review troops in China’s first military parade in 15 years.

Jiang’s support among China’s people remains untested, however, as long as the party retains its unyielding hold on power.

The selection of Zhu Rongji as premier last year won the approval of many Chinese who appreciate his down-to-earth style and popularity overseas.

Many, however, see Jiang as more distant, which is emphasized by his tendency never to stray from set party phrases in his speeches.

The national day celebrations Friday reflected Jiang’s formal and impersonal style.

The celebrations featured a display of military might in the wide array of tanks, missiles and fighter jets displayed after the precision marching of 11,000 troops and armed police.

The procession of citizens that followed was equally impressive in terms of spectacle, if not as imposing.

A total of 500,000 people, picked to represent a cross-section of Chinese society, waved fans and other colorful objects to create patterns and spell out political slogans.

Most of Beijing’s populace could only watch the procession on television as police sealed Beijing’s center Thursday night.

The focus of the marchers and floats in the procession was carefully focused on hailing the achievements of China’s development under party rule.

Positioned atop the 90 floats was a variety of models, including representations of rockets, the Three Gorges Dam and genetically engineered food.

The floats were adorned with slogans such as “Rely on the workers with a whole heart and a whole consciousness” and “Long live the great Communist Party of China.”

In the daytime finale of modern China’s 50th birthday party, 10,000 children flocked toward the Gate of Heavenly Peace under the gaze of Jiang and other leading officials.

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