Sat, 16 Mar 2013 06:49:56 GMT

Mystery shrouds life after retirement for top Chinese leaders

From K J M Varma
Beijing, Mar 15 (PTI) As top Chinese leaders headed by Hu Jintao retired en-masse after a decade long stint in power, mystery shrouds their post retirement life, which some say is leisure and family life while others could still remain active in intriguing backroom politics.

Hu, 70, was replaced by President Xi Jinping and Premier Wen Jiabao, 70, was succeeded by Li Keqiang as the leadership transition is almost completed today following which a host of top leaders and officials who till now stayed at the helm enjoying the limelight and state benefits become jobless overnight.

Since the death of Mao Zedong, the founder the ruling Communist Party of China, the party put a cap of two terms of five years on leaders abolishing the life long tenures.

The past two transitions saw many faded into oblivion enjoying the rich post retirement privileges but one retired leader and former President Jiang Zemin stood out remaining a key player leading his Shanghai faction.

86-year-old Jiang played a key role even in the present transition ensuring vast majority of his followers got plum posts.

Wen recently said he would like turn a hermit after his retirement and get involvement in cultural activities.

Observers say some ageing leaders might yearn to retire in peace, but they are pushed to stay involved in political affairs by those who benefit from their influence, while some others have no choice but to stay involved in politics to ensure the party will not prosecute them for past misdeeds.

However, there is little chance this would actually happen, says Steve Tsang, a professor of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham.

If possible, the Communist Party would avoid opening a Pandora''s Box of unnecessary strife by attacking a politician who is no longer in power, he told BBC.

While Jiang remained prominent in after retirement former vice-premier Li Lanqing, sought an ordinary life after quitting politics in 2002. The former vice-premier spends most of his time on the arts.

He learned the art of engraving at 71 and gave a sample of his work to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

Li also spent eight years compiling a book that introduces the history of European music and the lives of 50 European classical musicians, according to the write up.(MORE) PTI KJV AKJ

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