Will this finally be the end of the Shanghai clique? The death of Huang Ju, a former Shanghai mayor and party secretary and now former member of the Standing Committee of the Politboro, spells trouble for Jiang Zemin’s already waning influence on the Hu administration. Having ascended to the role of vice premier of the State Council in 2003, Mr Huang had long served as the figurehead for the “Shanghai Clique”, a group of politicians joined by their love of all things Shanghai (and Jiang Zemin). Were Raekwon the Chef asked to sum up the situation, he might say something like this: “The Shanghai Clique forms like Voltron and Huang Ju was the head.”
Notice Raekwon’s use of the past tense in that hypothetical quote. Expanding on the Wu member’s metaphor, the Shanghai Clique is currently akin to Voltron sans black lion, challenged to battle the forces of Prince Lothar (or in this case, Hu Jintao) headless. Sounds like a losing battle to us.
The timely death of Huang Ju gives Chinese president Hu Jintao the opportunity to install another loyal underling to the Standing Committee in anticipation of the 17th CPC National Congress in October, when many of China’s next generation of political leaders will be identified by the current administration. Conspiracy theorists everywhere are rubbing their collective hands, as Mr Huang’s death couldn’t have been played better had Mr Hu scripted it.
While theories begin to circulate (we heard something about bad water), Shanghaiist wonders whether this death will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the Shanghai Clique. Can we finally put to rest Jiang Zemin’s loyalist groupies and their political machinations? Maybe we can convince remaining members to join the Shanghaiist Clique, where we spend our days discussing the really important issues: Wal-mart’s gun policy, Yanji beatboxers and a dislike for Wei Hui that seemingly knows no bounds.