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Jiang Zemin "flees to Shanghai"
Internet-ers bombard Jiang and his cast for being "ignominious"
Tang Qing

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Jiang Zemin, Chair of the Central Military Committee -- China's "overlord" who controls the 2.5 million-manned Chinese army -- met with the Indian Defense Minister in Shanghai on April 26, making his first public appearance since the epidemic situation in Beijing was disclosed earlier in the month.

According to earlier reports from sources, Jiang went to Shanghai where the epidemic situation has not yet become serious to seek shelter in early April because the epidemic situation in Beijing was on the verge of being out of control.

On the same day, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-Premier Wu Yi visited some of the worst infected areas in Beijing to investigate the epidemic situation, and had lunch in a student cafeteria at Peking University.

Students at Peking University ridicule on the Internet news on Jiang's Shanghai appearance, commenting that "Shanghai should be safer than Beijing, since our Military Committee Chair Jiang Zemin is in Shanghai." There was also a student who pointed out sharply that "(Jiang) didn't even set an example, and ran away to seek shelter in Shanghai! (He) fears death! No wonder the Party Central Committee asked the nation to guarantee (the safety of) Shanghai with all one's strength!"

These Internet articles form an extremely striking contrast with the earlier articles that appreciated "brother Bao" (Wen Jiabao) and "sister Wu" (Wu Yi) who dined with students in Peking University.

An article titled "Firmly support President Hu and Premiers Wen and Wu: Those ignominious villains who just look on will certainly be cast aside by the people," appeared on the Internet discussion forum of Peking University on April 26. The article says, "at this moment of national calamity, some people do not participate in the hard work of disease resistance and prevention, but are standing aside watching, waiting for those hardworking people to make mistakes so they can come to save the situation. These villains are truly ignominious! Inevitably they will be cast aside by the billions of people, and will leave a stink for ten thousand years." The spearhead is obviously directed at Jiang's cast who have recently been remaining indifferent spectators.

Earlier, Jiang Zemin's trusted subordinate, Chairman of the National Political Consultative Conference President Jia Qinglin made only an ambiguous statement. Another one of Jiang's cast, Executive Vice-Premier Huang Ju who was put in charge of science and education, culture, and health, has yet to make an appearance, and by no means has played any role in assisting Wen Jiabao.

One article that spread the widest on the Internet over the past several days is called "From "Hello, Xiaoping" to "Hold out, brother Hu."" It encourages Hu Jintao to be persistent and lead the Chinese people to tide over the SARS catastrophe. The article has caused an enormous echo, especially among the students at Peking University.

At the 1984 National Day ceremony, the Peking University students raised the slogan "Hello, Xiaoping" to support Deng Xiaoping who had then returned to post succeeding in the struggle with the former Party Chairman Hua Guofeng. The slogan became the contemporary classical slogan at that time. Today, the Peking University students who are the sharpest when it comes to political sensitivity, shout "Hold out, brother Hu." Besides supporting "brother Hu," perhaps there is another more important reason: Everybody seems to have smelled a bit of the power struggle among the high-level authorities. Moreover, the situation of "brother Hu"' is not too optimistic.

A strategist who does not want to disclose his identity indicated that the political tendency of some moves of the authorities is too strong. It does not look like totally a disease-prevention, but rather a power struggle covered by the SARS storm. Some Beijing analysts compare the current situation in China with the eve of the June 4 movement in 1989. Some others compare it with the Great Cultural Revolution period. Generally, people think that two power centers can never stay stable, and Jiang Zemin's holding onto military power like grim death would only increase China's unstable factor.

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