Although a severe crackdown is under way against leading reformist intellectuals who supported the pro-democracy movement--a warrant has been issued for Yan's arrest--many leaders closely associated with Zhao remain in high office.
Hard-liners have not yet been able to expel Zhao from the party or bring him to trial for alleged counterrevolutionary crimes, steps that might also serve to weaken many of his longtime allies. Zhao reportedly remains under a lenient form of house arrest inside Zhongnanhai, the red-walled leadership compound.
Thus, the government and party are bitterly split at least three ways: among those like Zhao, who would prefer to accelerate the pace of reform and extend it to the political sphere; those like Jiang, who favor Deng's formula of political dictatorship matched with economic reform, and hard-liners like Li Peng, who seek to slow the pace of reform. Personal ambitions that are at least as important as ideological conflicts add to the complexity of the situation.
The foremost question is Deng's health. The martial-law crackdown and its aftermath made it clear that he remains the ultimate arbiter of Chinese politics. But Deng, who will be 85 next month, is reported to have a serious prostate problem, possibly cancer, and a variety of other ailments that raise doubts about how long he can continue to exercise power.
The events of this spring and summer--the student demonstrations, the massacre and the appointment of Jiang as head of the party--are seen as one round in the succession battle. Another round has begun.