Chinese Communist Party Vice Chairman Teng Hsiao-ping has apparently begun to shake-up the highest levels of the government in an effort to accelerate the restoration of profits and discipline in the Chinese economy.
The replacement of the party chief in Inner Mongolia and the mayor of Peking and the rumored removal of the Peking regional army commander indicate a new spate of dismissals is under way. Although the officials being shunted aside already had lost much influence since Teng's return to power last year, they had continued to serve as symbols of the Cultural Revolution, when Teng was in disfavor. This apparently left lower-level officials uncertain whether to execute Teng's new policies vigorously.
Hua Kuo-feng, the party chairman and Teng's nominal superior, seems to have stepped back and let his older and more experienced deputy have his way, despite Hua's own apparent differences with some of Teng's new policies in education.
Teng's moves against men once protected by Hua suggests there still are tensions at the highest levels of the party which could interfere with economic progress if the current cooperative atmosphere between Hua, 57, and Teng, 74, breaks down.
Hua may have forced some compromises in the lastest shifts. Former Peking mayor Wu Teh appears to retain his seat on the party Politburo and his chairmanship of the National People's Congress, and former Inner Mongolian Party chief Yu Tai-chung appears to retain his job as military leader in his area. The rumors of the dismissal of Chen Hsi-lien as Peking military region commander, which Peking diplomatic sources say are still unconfirmed, indicate Chen retains his Politburo seat and his vice premiership.
But removal of these particular individuals from important regional jobs helps weaken them as symbols of the policies of the late chairman Mao Tse-tung's Cultural Revolution. That period of social and political experiments in the late 1960s, during which students and workers were encouraged to make their own rules in defiance of production quotas and local authorities, has now been repudiated in all but name by Mao's successors.
Men like Wu and Chen , whose careers prospered during the Cultural Revolution, are at best regarded suspiciously by men like Teng, who was temporarily removed from office.
"As long as you have people like that still in power," said one analyst here, "people in the lower rungs of the government will still wonder if it's safe to stick their necks out."
There have been increasingly vehement complaints lately in the official press that local officials are not moving fast enough in implementing such Teng policies as increasing discipline and bonuses in factories and administrating college students on academic merit rather than on worker-peasant family background. Such policies were suspended during the Cultural Revolution and officials who supported them, like Teng, were purged.
"Why is it that until now many comrades, including some leading cadres,... were afraid to deal with such problems as the management of enterprises ... material awards ... and learning from advanced foreign experience?" said a front-page special commentary in the official newspaper, The People's Daily, on Oct.4.
"In the name of" defending the achievements of the great Cultural Revolution', some have even ordered others to stop exposing and criticizing and have erected various obstacles."Official attacks on the late vice chairman Lin Piao, symbol of the early years of the Cultural Revolution, have been particularly vehement.
"I think Teng has really declared war now," said an analyst here. He wants a real shake-up in the Politburo."
Under the party constitution, which the new leadership seems more inclined to follow than Mao did, such a shake-up would have to wait for a full Central Committee meeting, but Teng and his allies can deprive Politburo members of important regional posts, as he has already done to Wu and former Sinkiang leader Saifudin, and may also do to Chen and to Manchurian army commander Li Teh-Sheng.All were beneficiaries of the Cultural Revolution.
Although 18 of the country's 29 provinces, regions and municipalities have gotten new leaders in the two years since Mao's death, there are a few who retain links to the Cultural Revolution and may still lose their jobs.
That leaves untouched the two party leaders ranked above Teng, Hua and Vice Chairman YEh Chien-ying, even though both benefitted personally from the Cultural Revolution. They appear safe, since they allegedly organized the purge of Mao's widow and other Politburo dogmatists that cleared the way for Teng's return to power.
Even if they did present an obstacle to Teng's push for more foreign trade and higher living standards, which they apparently do not. Yeh at age 80 is probably too senior to be removed and Hua as nominal head of the party, army and government is probably too highly placed.
The replacements for the men now being removed from important posts are often , like Teng, former victims of the Cultural Revolution purges. Peking's new mayor Lin Hu-chia, was a Chekiang and national planning official who, after his rehabilitation in the early 1970s, developed a reputa tion as a troubleshooter who cut back on official privileges in Shanghai and Tientsin.
Yu Tai-chung's replacement in Inner Mongolia, Chou Hui, is a former Hunan official who disappeared from sight during the 1960s. Yu, an army official, may have been replaced in part to reassert civilian control over a government post that had gone to the military during the disruptions of the 1960s. His dismissal also may have something to do with his role in earlier criticism of a Teng ally, Mongolian Politburo member Ulanfu.
Chen Wei-ta, a former Chekian official, has replaced Lin Hu-chia as Tientsin mayor. Chen Hsi-lien's replacement, of Chen has actually been dismissed , has not been named.