BEIJING — China's state press reinforced reports Sunday that Politburo member Qiao Shi, a strong advocate of strict political control, is soon to be named Communist Party chief.
The lead article in Sunday's edition of the People's Daily, the official party newspaper, reported that Qiao addressed leaders of "democratic parties," which are nominal political organizations from China's past.
Such prominent display appeared to indicate that Qiao will succeed disgraced party head Zhao Ziyang, who fell from power after he showed sympathy for pro-democracy demonstrators in Tian An Men Square. Zhao has not been heard from since April 19.
Zhao Given Blame
Zhao is being blamed for "mistakenly" letting student demonstrators get out of hand.
Soldiers moved to clear Tian An Men Square of protesters during the weekend of June 3-4, killing hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of demonstrators and their supporters.
Communist Party leaders are expected to meet soon to officially remove Zhao and name Qiao as Communist Party general secretary.
Meanwhile, China continued to attack the refuge given to dissident scientist Fang Lizhi and his wife, college professor Li Shuxian, by the American Embassy here.
In a letter to the People's Daily, a government law expert declared that the asylum not only violates Chinese rules applicable to foreign diplomatic property but also international law.
The United States is "obstructing China from exercising its power of criminal jurisdiction," the letter said.
"Is this not wanton interference in China's internal affairs?" the letter concluded, in an echo of the official government complaint.
Although the government has pledged to maintain an "open door" policy to the West, there was a new sign Sunday that it is moving toward greater control over students and others with plans to travel abroad
A state radio broadcast said that Chinese who have already been granted permission to make trips overseas will be required to return to the authorities for new exit permits.
The radio said that new passports will be issued with an exit permit that will allow the holders to qualify for foreign visas. Once the visas are given, holders will have to return to the Public Security Bureau to seek a second exit permit. The regulations take effect Tuesday, the broadcast added.
Hundreds of Chinese have lined up outside the U.S. Embassy to apply for visas to enter the United States since the June 3-4 crackdown.
Qiao, the likely new Communist Party chief, is sometimes referred to by foreign observers as "Super Cop" because he has in recent years overseen both party discipline and China's vast police force.
He is also reported to have directed the Communist Party's Investigation Department, a domestic intelligence gathering unit.
To the democratic parties, Qiao took a conciliatory line saying that "it is very natural that people have different views and doubts," given the prevailing "complicated" situation.
During the recent months of political ferment, Qiao showed no signs of sympathy for the pro-democracy demonstrators. Nor has he displayed particular tolerance of advocates of quickened political or economic liberalization.
Western Solutions Assailed
During a speech in March, he lashed out at party members who toyed with Western-style solutions to Chinese development problems.
"If we can do well in promoting the building of the party," he said, "views and speeches which hold that reform means only economic privatization, that politically, only multi-party systems can be followed and that only wholesale Westernization can be implemented . . . will find less and less support."
In words that now have an ominous ring, he added: "Demagoguery and instigation by several dissidents who have ulterior motives can never succeed."
The statement was one of the few in memory that Qiao had made on subjects of controversy within the party. Usually, he speaks out forcefully on corruption and the need to strengthen the Communist Party.
Caution has apparently served him well; his rise to prominence has been meteoric.
Zhao nominated Qiao as one of China's five vice premiers in April, 1986. Just six months earlier, he had been named to the Communist Party's powerful Politburo as well as the Secretariat, the party's executive branch.
The rapid rise marked Qiao as a possible successor to then-Communist party chief Hu Yaobang, in part because he was seen as being dedicated to buttressing Communist Party rule. During the past decade of economic liberalization, the party's grip on the country was seen as weakening.
At the time of his appointment as vice premier, the official New China News Agency said: "Qiao's appointment indicates the intention of the Chinese government to give better guidance to the country's political and legal work."
In contrast to Zhao, the 65-year-old Qiao has no experience in a major economic post, a shift in emphasis that may also signal greater attention to tighter political control.