To those who study factional politics in China, the distribution of power and influence at the provincial level of leadership is a crucial focus of attention. Nowhere has the rise to preeminence of Hu Jintao’s protégés in the top provincial posts been more eye-catching than in Guangdong Province. With the recent appointment of Wang Yang, the former Party secretary of Chongqing municipality, as the new provincial Party chief of Guangdong, all three of the province’s top leadership positions now belong to the socalled tuanpai faction—those officials who advanced their political careers through the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL). These three top Guangdong provincial leaders—Party Secretary Wang Yang, Governor Huang Huahua, and Deputy Party Secretary Liu Yupu (who also serves concurrently as Party Secretary of Shenzhen municipality)—all worked directly under Hu Jintao in the early 1980s when Hu was in charge of the CCYL. They have thus had close patron-client ties for over two decades. In addition, among the 18 highest-ranking leaders in Guangdong (standing members of the Provincial Party Committee and vice governors), 10 (56 percent) have tuanpai backgrounds.
Mao Zedong did not see the value of reform and opening up. The China part of Nixon’s 1967 Foreign Affairs article suggested an implicit bargain that provided the conceptual basis for China’s new direction after 1978. That bargain was if China focused on domestic development and didn’t threaten the security of its neighbours, the United States would help.