He is a powerful and extremely influential figure in Chinese politics, although he usually remains in the shadows. This time, Wang Huning, one of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s closest advisers, was in the spotlight. When former leader Hu Jintao was escorted out of the room at the Chinese Communist Party convention in October, Wang made a small but significant gesture that caught the attention of commentators.
Wang Huning, who is a member of the 7-member Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, sometimes called “Chinese Alexander Dugin” or “Chinese Kissinger”, has been the main ideologist of the authorities in Beijing for many years. Although he usually operates from behind the scenes, he played a key role in the incident at the Great Hall of the People at the closing session of the CCP congress, writes Reuters.
Former Party General Secretary Hu Jintao, 79, was then unexpectedly escorted out of the room. The reason is unknown, but observers judge the moment as Hu’s humiliation and a symbol of Xi’s tightening of power, which is ridding potential rivals of key party organs. The incident was widely commented on around the world, but was not reported in the Chinese media.
A discreet but meaningful gesture
When Li Zhangsu, the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, wanted to get up from his chair to assist the confused Hu, Wang, closely following the whole event, stopped Li by discreetly tugging at his jacket. “A small but – it seems – significant role in an episode that has not yet been fully explained,” notes Reuters.
He adds that it is ironic that the 67-year-old Wang served alongside both Hu and his recently deceased predecessor Jiang Zemin before becoming one of current President Xi Jinping’s closest advisers. “A unique trajectory at a time when every other member of the Standing Committee is seen as a Xi loyalist.”
– It seems to me that he accompanied Jiang Zemin on almost every trip, no matter where he went. The same was true of Hu Jintao and then Xi Jinping, said Kenneth Lieberthal, an expert in Chinawho was a senior official for Asia in the Clinton administration from 1998 to 2000 and who met Wang in person several times. – He clearly finds it easy to establish relationships with personalities at the highest levels of power and build relationships based on trust. It’s quite unusual, he admitted.
During his first five-year term on the Standing Committee, Wang headed the party secretariat, the body responsible for day-to-day affairs. In Xi’s third term as the country’s leader, Wang is on track to head the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body that plays an important role in China’s political system, Reuters estimates. However, experts say Wang’s power extends far beyond defined roles and positions.
According to analysts, over the course of three decades, Wang established himself as the party’s chief theoretician, having had a profound influence on the political concepts and slogans used to advance China’s interests internationally and legitimize the Communist Party’s rule at a time when Xi strengthened its role in all spheres of Chinese society. notes Reuters.
Ideas such as “Chinese-style modernization” or “Xi Jinping’s thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era” – considered the fundamental philosophy of Xi’s rule – are attributed by analysts to Wang.
– She’s a political beautician. He is very good at embellishing politics and political slogans, says Willy Lam, a senior fellow at The Jamestown Foundation in Washington. “All the major slogans, from Jiang Zemin to Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping, seem to come from Wang Huning,” he adds.
Reuters emphasizes that Wang is known for anti-liberal and centralist views.
Main photo source: MARK R. CRISTINO/EPA/PAP