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The Rise of China's `Princelings' Fuels a Bitter Succession Battle

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IN a power struggle that may decide China's future after Deng Xiaoping, two factions within the Communist Party are drawing battle lines over control of the nation's economic reforms.

Supporters of Mr. Deng's reforms have fanned the leader's popularity and moved to crack down on challenges to economic liberalization. But an emerging corps of young party conservatives - many the children of senior hard-line leaders - is bidding for power in a transitional China.

Three events last month underscore this struggle:

* The conservative political monthly In Search of Truth was criticized for its direct attacks on China's economic liberalization and innuendos about ``reform architect'' Deng. The magazine has been scheduled to shut down by year's end.

* Yu Xiguang, a liberal political scientist at the Beijing Central Party School, was detained for editing a book supporting market-style reforms, but which revealed embarrassing compromises Deng made in the past to placate the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong and party hard-liners.

* The opening of the China Academy for Research in Reform, a liberal think tank backed by Deng, was shelved because it promoted speeding up market changes in a still partially socialist China, Chinese analysts say.

The group of so-called ``neoconservatives'' has increasing influence over China's senior leadership, Chinese analysts say. With pedigree, connections, youth, and Western educations on their side, these ``princelings,'' as they are known among educated Chinese, support a market economy so long as it does not create challenges to the Communist Party's supremacy.

Contrary to Deng's exhortations to remove the party from the day-to-day operation of the economy, these conservatives urge more party involvement and are moving to carve out individual personal fiefdoms.

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