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Analysis: Wen Jiabao Visits U.N., but as a Lame Duck Inside China

By Mimi Li, Epoch Times
September 23, 2008

The Chinese regime's number two, Wen Jiabao, began his three-day visit to New York on Tuesday, with Millennium Development Goals program meetings and the U.N. General Assembly meeting on his itinerary.

Wen will meet with foreign leaders, heads of state, and representatives from U.N. member states. But when he's not spending time playing diplomat outside Chinese borders, Wen is firmly chained to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a lame-duck politician whose individualism and independence is respected as little as are human rights in China.

As a politician with populist appeal in China, Wen is more or less trapped within the CCP as a puppet. From matters ranging from the suppression of Falun Gong, to Sichuan earthquake warnings, to the recent melamine-milk scandal, Wen has had his chances to separate himself from the official communist line, but to no avail.

Falun Gong

The Chinese Communist Party's nine-year-long persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999 under the direction of then-CCP-head Jiang Zemin, who banned the meditation practice due to fear and jealousy after finding out the number of Falun Gong practitioners in China outnumbered Communist Party members. After Jiang stepped down in March 2003, Hu Jintao replaced him as head of state and Wen assumed his position as Hu's right-hand man.

Even though Hu and Wen were the new leaders of China's regime, Jiang, who is largely responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong, injected his accomplices into the Politburo Standing Committee, which contains the CCP's top officials. This way, Jiang's protégés did his dirty work, which included continuing the persecution of Falun Gong.

Hu and Wen have their hands tied: they don't necessarily agree or approve of the persecution, but they can't do much or else risk backlash from Jiang and his companions.

Rather than risk political suicide, Wen has followed Hu in being nonchalant and mainly hands-off regarding the Falun Gong persecution. Still, some wish Wen could break through the barrier somehow.

Dumped and Used

Before the May 12 Sichuan earthquake in China struck, killing 60,000 people, the Committee of Natural Hazard Prediction in the Institute of Geophysical Society predicted that an earthquake was imminent and urged the State Council to issue an earthquake warning.

Wen Jiabao was in favor of publicly releasing a warning, but excuses—such as that a warning would disrupt social order and preparation for the Beijing Olympics—from other top Chinese officials led them to override Wen.

Thus, the announcement of a looming megaquake was banned from the public just at the time that Wen intended to inform people. Thousands of possibly preventable deaths ensued.

When the earthquake struck, Wen immediately traveled to Sichuan to meet with victims and survey the scene. Visiting the children he intended to save from the earthquake that now ravaged their hometowns and schools, China's state-run media dubbed Wen 'Grandpa Wen' as he helped with relief efforts and grieved over bodies of dead children. The CCP exploited Wen as an example of the 'kindness' and 'compassion' of the Communist Party even though, just days earlier, it withheld information that could have saved lives.


In light of the recent milk scandal, Wen Jiabao was rumored to have offered his resignation from the Chinese Politburo. But the Politburo turned him down, pressuring him to stay and remain the popular face of the Communist Party that Chinese citizens can like.

Wen Jiabao is effectively stuck within the domain of the CCP, a body that is willing to take advantage of his appeal but limit his voice when it comes to important internal matters.

On Tuesday, Wen met with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and discussed US-China relations.

"Great achievements have been made in China-U.S. relations over the past three decades since the two countries forged diplomatic ties," said Wen, who also said that he hoped that relations would progress continuously.

Bilateral relations and international affairs are both formidable subjects for a second-in-command of a country to be involved in, but when he is an obsolete political voice in his own country, neither of those issues matters much anymore, and one has to wonder when the CCP will free him from his leash. 

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