The struggle for power in China - and on Friday (October 22nd) the official Chinese press and radio publicly announced for the first time that the Prime Minister, Hua Kuo-feng, had been appointed Chairman of the Communist Party in succession to the late Mao Tse-tung.
CU Chinese Vice-Premier Li Hsien-nien walking across tarmac, Peking airport, October 1976
MV Papua-New Guinea party accompanied by Chinese leaders wave to crowd (2 shots)
MCU Li walking with welcoming party, and scene at airport (2 shots)
CU Li at conference table with North Vietnamese delegation 1974
MVs & CU Chinese and North Vietnamese seated round table (3 shots)
Pakistan, 1975; MVs Li enters room and greeted by Pakistan President Fazal Elami Chaudhry (2 shots)
CU Portrait of Mohamed Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan
MVs Li and Chaudhry seated talking (3 shots)
CU Floral decoration on table, PULL BACK TO MVs Li and albanian leaders (2 shots)
MVs Albanian and Chinese guests seated at table (3 shots)
MCU AND GVs Li speaking at banquet, guests applaud (3 shots)
MCU AND GVs Li greeting Philippines delegation Peking, 1976
MV Li escorting delegation leader, Dr. Fernando Bernardo to seat
MV Li and Bernardo talking
Initials OS RH/GB/PNG/0016
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Background: The struggle for power in China - and on Friday (October 22nd) the official Chinese press and radio publicly announced for the first time that the Prime Minister, Hua Kuo-feng, had been appointed Chairman of the Communist Party in succession to the late Mao Tse-tung. If as a result of achieving the Chairmanship, Mr. Hua relinquishes his post as Premier, normal lines of succession indicate that Vice-Premier Li Hsien-nien would replace him as Prime Minister.
SYNOPSIS: Li Hsien-nien is 71 years old. Suggestions that he might be the next Premier began to be heard when he went with Chairman Hua to Peking airport earlier this month to meet the Prime Minister of Papua-New Guinea. From then on, he was host to the visitors, accompanying them back to Peking and presiding at an official banquet in their honour. As Chairman Hua was still Prime Minister, it would have been normal protocol for him to preside himself, unless he was displaying someone else for political reasons.
When he received an economic delegation from North Vietnam in 1974, Li was Finance Minister as well as Vice-Premier. He held this post for 20 years, and is credited with getting the Chinese currency onto a hard basis.
Last year he went to Pakistan, and was received by President Fazal Elami Chaudhry. It was the first visit by such a senior representative of the Chinese government to Rawalpindi for ten years.
Li Hsien-nien has travelled abroad in recent years more than most Chinese leaders of his rank, usually promoting one of his keenest interests: China's foreign trade. But he has a wide general experience of foreign affairs, and took part in the talks with President Gerald Ford of the United States and his predecessor, Richard Nixon.
At this banquet in Peking, Li's guests were an economic delegation from Albania. But the Vice-Premier is more than a financial manager. He was also a distinguished soldier. He joined the Communist Party in the 1920s, and is a veteran of the legendary Long March. He was a general in the Communist armies fighting both the Japanese and the late Chiang Kai-shek.
Li's background and long experience in the highest government ranks would mean that his appointment as prime Minister would bring a strong element of continuity, after the break with the past caused by Chairman Mao's death.
For many years, Li was a close associate of the late Premier, Chou En-lai -- who had just died when Li met an economic delegation from the Philippines early this year. Chou's support was an important factor in helping Li to survive demands from the radicals for his dismissal during the Cultural Revolution.
Coupled with the downfall of the four leading radicals, the appointment of the veteran Li Hsien-nien to the highest government office would appear to indicate that Chairman Hua is looking for a period of stability - consolidation and economic development for China - rather than a new surge of revolutionary fervour.