Vice Chairman Teng Hsiao-ping has won significant control of the organization and future of the 37 million-member Chinese Communist Party with the appointment of his closest aide to two key posts.
The appointment of Hu Yao-pang to China's leading party organization and propaganda offices also appears to reduce considerably the influence of two leaders thought to be ailied with party Chairman Hua Kuo-feng, Teng's nominal superior.
Sixth-ranked party leader Wang Tung-hsing, the former bodyguard of Mao Tse-tung and reportedly the leadership's secret police expert, has been deprived of the job the held as custodian of vital central party records and director of party staff. Peking wallposters calling for more human rights in China have called Wang an "insect" for suppressing youthful human rights demonstrators two years ago.
The sudden promotions for Hu, revealed in an otherwise routine report by the official New China News Agency about a speech Hu gave Tuesday, suggest Teng, 74, may be trying to set up his closest personal ally as a political heir who can carry on his pragmatic programs after his death.
At 63, Hu is relatively young for a member of the ruling Politburo, which be joined only two weeks ago when a group of Teng allies was promoted to high ofice in the party Central Committee. The two men have been so close politically that when Teng suffered and recovered from two political purges, from 1966 to 1973 and again in 1976, Hu desappeared form sight both times with his patron.
During Teng's first purge, in the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s, Red Guard documents accused the two men of setting up a private club for playing bridge. Teng was allegedly addicted to the game and would arrange for government aircraft to fetch Hu and other suitable partners whenever Teng had an itch for a little recreation while on inspection trips outside Peking.
The impression of Teng acting as an older official grooming an heir is made stronger by the fact that one of the jobs Hu has been given, secretary general of the Central Committee, was held by Teng himself in the mid-1950s and in modified form in the 1960s until his Cultural Revolution purge.
The other new title given Hu in Tuesday's announcement was director of the Central Committee propoganda department. The job had previously been filed by Chang Ping-hua, a senior party official. Chang was second in command to Chairman Hua when Hua was still first party secretary in Hunan Porvince, the home province of the lat chairman Mao.
Teng and Hua, 57, have been odd political partners since Hua was annointed by Mao as his heir soon after Teng was purged the second time in 1976. Official party historians now argue that Hua had nothing to do with that purge, which they say was engineered by extremist followers of Mao who did not like Teng's effort to revive school examinations, worker bonuses and other devices to stimulate the economy by creating a technical elite.
Hua appeared to cooperate with several of Teng's allies in the government and army when they purged Mao's widow, Chiang Ching, and several other party extremists one month after Mao's death in 1976. The new chairman also appeared to endorse Teng's return to power in 1977 and approve the series of remarkable changes in domestic and foreign policy instituted by the influential vice party chairman and vice premier in the 18 months since.
But Hua occasionally voiced mild disapproval of efforts to confine the rewards of society to those with the best brains, rather than encouraging the broad masses to improve themselves.
Teng has maneuvered vigorously since his return to power to promote his allies into the most powerful posts in the army, government and party. This left Hua with his top posts as chairman and premier but filled the next level with Teng supporters. At the Central Committee meeting two weeks ago, Hua even read a personal endorsement of the principle of collective leadership. This seemed to diminish his influence further, compared to the unchallenged personal sway once exercised by Mao.
Hu, like Mao born in Hunan, had a long career before the Cultural Revolution as a leader of the Communist Youth League, which served as the talent agency for the party in its early years. The Red Guards destroyed the Youth League apparatus, and with it, al least for awhile, Hu's career.
Since recovering from his second purge, Hu has risen quickly from vice principal of the new school for party officials to director of the party's organization department. In the latter role, the apparently had much to do with the rigorous purge of middleand lower-level party members who were tied to Chiang Ching and her "Gang of Four."
Hu's exact responsibilities as Central Committee secretary general are not quite clear but he apparently will control staff and records. Wang did this in his position as director of the general office of the Central Committee, a post apparently reorganized out of existence.
Hu apparently also will control discipline and recruitment. In other words, he will be at the top of the structure that decides who will and who will not join the party organization that runs China. Teng's emphasis on brains and practical abilities, as opposed to political fervor and knowledge of Marxist ideology, is likely to prevail as long as Hu remains in charge.
Hu's new title is identical to one held by Teng from 1954 to 1956, when the party structure was reorganized. Teng then came general secretary, an even more influential post.
Like Teng a veteran of the long march of the mid-1930s, the great test of virtue for the elderly party officials who now run China, Hu echoed in his speech to Peking writers and artists Tuesday Teng's emphasis on economic progress.
"China's express train toward [modernization] has now started.... Carried on the train are the hopes and joy of our nation, country and people."