BEIJING — Advocates of openness to the world and market-oriented domestic reforms achieved a historic triumph Sunday when senior Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping led elderly critics of his policies into retirement from top party positions.
The group of more than 90 officials who stepped down with Deng from the Central Committee included all the most prominent hard-liners who had sought to slow his reforms. A new, 175-member Central Committee was elected at Sunday's closing session of the 13th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.
The retirees include the ailing economist and central planner Chen Yun, 82, and National People's Congress Chairman Peng Zhen, 85, who have been the two most potent critics of some reforms, plus Hu Qiaomu, 75, and Deng Liqun, 72, the leading orthodox ideologists.
President Leaves Committee
President Li Xiannian, 78, also retired from the Central Committee. Although Li has not been a strong critic of reforms, neither is he viewed as an advocate of accelerating them.
The new Central Committee will meet today to elect a new Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee and to confirm the reformist acting general secretary, Zhao Ziyang, in that post. Politburo members can be chosen only from among members of the Central Committee, so none of the retiring veteran leaders are eligible.
Despite stepping down from the top organs of party power, Deng is expected to remain China's paramount leader.
Deng's power is based largely on personal connections and the respect with which he is held by other top leaders. In addition, he is widely expected to remain de facto commander in chief of the armed forces by retaining chairmanship of the party's Central Military Commission.
The congress approved a change in the party constitution to allow someone who is not a Central Committee member to head the military commission.
Zhao's Report Approved
The congress also approved a report delivered by Zhao at its opening session, in which he outlined a new ideological justification for the market-oriented reforms that China has gradually adopted since Deng rose to power in 1978.
The new theory is based on the idea that because China is still a poor country in only the "primary stage" of socialism, it should permit anything that contributes to economic growth, including techniques more commonly associated with capitalist economies.
The official New China News Agency on Sunday said Zhao's report was "of great, historic and far-reaching significance."
Despite Deng's departure from the Central Committee, "his prestige and wisdom will ensure him a major role in the work of both the party and the state," congress spokesman Zhu Muzhi said at a Sunday afternoon press conference.
Zhao presided over Sunday's session, with Deng seated to his right and former General Secretary Hu Yaobang to his left. Foreign journalists were allowed to attend only the session's final 20 minutes, when the nearly 2,000 delegates unanimously approved a series of resolutions accepting the reports of different commissions.
Hu, 72, a reformer who was forced to resign as general secretary in January in a conservative backlash against pro-democracy student demonstrations, retained his seat on the Central Committee on Sunday. Hu is not expected to recover his lost power, but he has been treated with respect by delegates and the official Chinese media during the congress.
Another well-known former leader, Hua Guofeng, 66, who served as party chairman after the death of Mao Tse-tung in 1976, also retained his Central Committee seat. Hua, who holds no other party posts, has fallen into obscurity since stepping down as chairman in 1980.
After Sunday's closing ceremony, which ended with an army band playing the socialist anthem "Internationale," Zhao and Hu stood side by side on the stage for a few moments. They appeared to share mutual congratulations with Deng Yingchao, the widow of the late Premier Chou En-lai, then shook hands with several other leaders.
However, Zhao and orthodox ideologist Deng Liqun--who for much of this year have reportedly been locked in bitter ideological and political maneuverings against each other--passed each other on the stage in silence. Zhao, the victor, then spent several minutes greeting prominent non-party figures seated as guests of honor at one side of the stage.
In electing a 175-member Central Committee, the congress cut its size considerably. The last party congress, in 1982, elected 210 Central Committee members.
The congress Sunday also elected 110 alternate members of the Central Committee.
Spokesman Zhu said that the average age of the new and alternate Central Committee members is 55.2 years, down from an average of 59.1 years when the last committee was elected five years ago. According to the New China News Agency, 87 of the full or alternate Central Committee members are new to the body, and 209 of them, or 73%, have college education.
Nine out of 20 members of the current Politburo are stepping down from the Central Committee. In addition to Deng Xiaoping, Hu Qiaomu, Li, Chen and Peng, these include army Chief of Staff Yang Dezhi, 78, Xi Zhongxun, 74, state councilor Fang Yi, 71, and Yu Qiuli, 73, director of the army's General Political Department.
The congress also elected a new 200-member Central Advisory Commission, a body of party elders, and a 69-member Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, responsible for enforcing party discipline.