A simmering dispute in Peking over jobs for unemployed Communist Party officials has burst into the open with a published attack on personnel policy that seems aimed at China's mysterious secret police chief.
A Feb. 2 article in the official People's Daily quoting "veteran comrades at the Central Committee party school" calls for a complete overhaul of party political and organizational departments the bodies that screen and assign jobs to party members.
It is the first time since party veterans took power after the death of Chairman Mao Tse-tung 17 months ago that the party paper has attacked those departments which appear to be the responsibility of Wang Tung-hsing Mao's boydguard and secret police chief and now China's fifth-ranking leader.
The departments are accused of dragging their feet in restoring to power thousands of party officials who were removed from office by a clique of Mao's younger more dogmatic followers during the last decade of his life.
"Some people have prevaricated played for time with empty talk and tried to cover up, thus disrupting the implementation of the cadre policy" veteran official complained in the artcile.
The issue has provoked tremendous emotions at the highest levels of the Chinese government, where the surviving members of an old-boy network of revolutionary war veterans had labored for years under a political cloud. The purge of Mao's most dogmatic disciples, including his widow Chiang Ching, after his death seemd to open the way for veterans to regain all their old powers and bring back to work friends who had been forced out of office.
The slow pace of these officla rehabilitations of party veterans has brought an outcry, until now not aimed directly at anyone in power, similar to the complaints of Democratic party campaign workers in the United States who did not get jobs in the new Carter administration.
In China, however, politicians out of power have no law practices or consulting firms to retret to, and so have often suffered loss of income and benefits while nursing deep feelings of injustice.
"The implementation of the party's cadre policy is by no means a problem of just a few people," the article said. "It effects not only the cadre's political lives, their relatives and children, but the entire cadre force and the masses."
Veterans who fell into disfavor with Chiang Ching complained thatshe and her cohorts put black marks on the records of their sons and daughters, so they could not get sought-after university places or office jobs.
Party Vice Chairman Wang Tung-hsing, who also serves as director of the central Committee general office, was identified to foreign visitors by another party leader last year as the top Chinese official responsible for personnel work. Wang, about 62, is relatively young and a likely target for the ire of formerly purges party veterans because he himself profited from the purges of the last decade. Wang probably had to approve many of the decisions to purge revolutionary veterans who Mao felt had become too old and conservative.
If Wang's control of the party intelligence apparatus and personnel files did not already make him politically secure, his action in organizing the arrest of Chiang Ching and her leading cohorts in October, 1976, greatly solidified his position in the post-Mao government and brought him a major promotion to party vice chairman.
He has been the victim of an apparent whsipering campaign in Peking over the last few months, however, perhaps encouraged by rehabilitated veterans like Vice Chairman Teng Hsiao-ping. A Teng lieutenant, Hu Yao-ping, was recently installed as head of the party's central organization department, in what might be an attempt to undercut Wang's influence in the campaign to rehabilitate more old cadres.