The Shanghai clique (simplified Chinese: 上海帮; traditional Chinese: 上海幫; pinyin: Shànghǎi bāng) is the name given to an informal group of officials in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), especially those who serve in the Central Committee or the Central Government of China, who rose to prominence in connection to the Shanghai municipal administration under Jiang Zemin, former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
This phrase was used somewhat pejoratively to describe Jiang's efforts to promote people who previously worked, or were associated with, his administration in Shanghai. However, none of the "Shanghai clique" members are originally from Shanghai, rather, the city is where they reached political prominence. It is more appropriately referred to as the "Jiang clique".
Members of the Shanghai clique are marked by their tendency to represent urban business interests of the coastal regions, many of them princelings, the children of revolutionary veterans, and their expertise in commercial affairs.
These people have been commonly identified as members of the Shanghai clique:
- Jiang Zemin, former General Secretary of the Communist Party
- Wu Bangguo
- Huang Ju
- Zeng Qinghong
- Jia Qinglin
- Chen Liangyu
- Chen Zhili
- Jia Ting'an
Meng Jianzhu, successor of Zhou Yongkang, also served in prominent positions in Shanghai, however they are not closely associated with Jiang and thus are usually not named as part of the Shanghai clique. Likewise, Premier Zhu Rongji, while having climbed through the ranks in Shanghai, was not necessarily associated with Jiang personally.
The following individuals owe part of their career advancement to personal support from Jiang. They are listed in rough order of how often they are associated as being part of Jiang's inner circle:
- Li Changchun
- Zhou Yongkang
- Zhang Dejiang
- Liu Yunshan
- Zhang Gaoli
- Han Zheng
- Zeng Peiyan
- Hui Liangyu
- Liu Qi
- Hua Jianmin
- Wu Guanzheng
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Upon Jiang's retirement in 2004, it was widely believed that he stuffed the Politburo Standing Committee with his 'own men', and was making it difficult for Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao to carry out their own policies. Evidence for this theory included the 5th Plenary Meeting of 16th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, when Hu's efforts to reshuffle the Politburo was blocked by members of the Shanghai Clique. Wen's macro-economic measures aimed at slowing down infrastructure growth and nationwide overheating in the property sector received great resistance from alleged members of this clique until the fall of Chen Liangyu in September 2006.
However, as Jiang had retired from all of his positions at the 4th Plenary Meeting of 16th National Congress of the CCP, Hu Jintao became the legitimate General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. There were signs of important members of the Shanghai Clique defecting to Hu's camp, thereby strengthening Hu's position. In addition, in a bold move in September 2006, Hu acted to purge prominent rival Chen Liangyu, former Chinese Communist Party Committee Secretary and Mayor of Shanghai, for alleged corruption, thus strengthening his position both within the party and in China. Follow the death of Huang Ju and retirement of Zeng Qinghong in 2007, the Shanghai clique was no longer as powerful as before after the 17th Party Congress.
After Hu left office in 2012, the influence of the Shanghai clique was no longer a visible feature of the Chinese political landscape. Some of the inner members of Shanghai clique including Zhou Yongkang and Guo Boxiong were being prosecuted under the anti-corruption started after the 18th Party Congress leading by Xi Jinping and Wang Qishan. China Leadership Monitor, which calls the group the "Shanghai Gang", has identified Han Zheng and Wang Huning (who both joined the Politburo Standing Committee in 2017) as members.
- David M. Finkelstein; Maryanne Kivlehan (2015). China's Leadership in the Twenty-First Century: The Rise of the Fourth Generation. Routledge. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-317-47492-0.
- Lai, Alexis. "One party, two coalitions - China's factional politics". CNN.
- "Shanghai mayor Han Zheng at the crossroads". South China Morning Post. 22 September 2012.
Han is part of the Shanghai clique, drawing power and possibly protection from former leader Jiang Zemin .
- BBC article Top China leader fired for graft published 25 September 2006