The Tuanpai (simplified Chinese: 团派; traditional Chinese: 團派; pinyin: Tuánpài; literally: "League Faction"), or Youth League Faction, is a term used by political observers to describe an informal political faction in the Communist Party of China, which includes cadres and government officials who originated from the Communist Youth League. There have been two "Youth League factions" in recent memory, without direct political lineage between each other. The first, in the 1980s, comprised cadres of Youth League background who supported party general secretary Hu Yaobang: the term "Tuanpai" was originally used to criticise Hu Yaobang for over-reliance of cadres of Youth League background. The second, from the 2000s, comprised party general secretary Hu Jintao and his group of populist associates and other political allies.
First Youth League faction
Members of the original Youth League faction were reformist members of the Communist Party leadership who had risen into positions of power with the rise of Hu Yaobang at the end of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970s. Like Hu, many of them had been part of the Communist Youth League leadership in the 1950s and 1960s, and had in their youths either participated directly in the Communist Party's armed forces, or in the anti-Kuomintang student movement, during the Chinese Civil War. In contrast to the more conservative "elders" who still had influence behind the scenes, the Youth League faction were younger, more liberal in political outlook, and enthusiastic in devising and implementing political and economic reform. Many of them played key roles in Hu Yaobang's programme of reform in the 1980s.
The Youth League faction was greatly weakened when Hu Yaobang was sidelined in an internal power struggle instigated by the conservative faction. Some members continued to serve under Zhao Ziyang, Hu's replacement as party leader and also a reformist, while others were moved into less important positions. When Zhao was also deposed in 1989, many remaining members of the Youth League faction were purged from the Party leadership, and the faction ceased to exist as such.
Second Youth League faction
Hu Jintao became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China in 2002. Hu Jintao also has a background in the Communist Youth League (though he is of a younger generation than Hu Yaobang's Youth League colleagues). Hu's rise to power roused interest in members of the party leadership who, like him, had a background in the Youth League. Hu Jintao is himself sometimes counted as a member of the first Youth League faction, as he was promoted during Hu Yaobang's leadership. However, the younger Hu's subsequent rise to power owed more to the patronage of Deng Xiaoping and other party elders than that of the elder Hu. As a result, there is no direct political lineage between the two Youth League factions.
Political analyst Cheng Li of Brookings Institution divides the contemporary Communist Party power structure into two distinct "coalitions" - one of "Populists" and the other of "Elitists". Elitists are classified as those who originate mostly in China's rich coastal provinces, notably Shanghai, or those who have a family background of high-ranking Communist Party officials (i.e. the Princelings). The Youth League faction, on the other hand, belongs to the "Populist" faction, consisting of officials who have relatively humble backgrounds and who have climbed through the power structure from the grassroots. While the Elitists are more concerned with economic growth and market functionality, the Populists are more focused on societal harmony and decreasing inequality. Li places the Youth League faction at the core of the Populist coalition. The Youth League faction's members usually have higher education qualifications, normally they all have university degrees or higher.
Suggested members of the first Youth League faction
- Hu Yaobang, CPC Chairman and later General Secretary (demoted 1987)
- Hu Qili, member of the Politburo Standing Committee (demoted 1989)
- Hu Jintao, CPC General Secretary, PRC President
- Li Ruihuan, member of Politburo Standing Committee, CPPCC Chairman
- Wang Zhaoguo, CPC General Office chief, Secretary of the Secretariat, later governor of Fujian
Suggested members of the second Youth League faction
- Hu Jintao, former CPC General Secretary, former PRC President
- Li Keqiang, Premier, Politburo Standing Committee member
- Li Yuanchao, Vice President, Politburo member
- Liu Yandong, Second Vice-Premier, Politburo member
- Wang Yang, Third Vice-Premier, Politburo member
- Hu Chunhua, Guangdong party secretary, Politburo member
- Zhou Qiang, President of the Supreme People's Court
- Ling Jihua, head of the United Front Work Department (expelled 2015)
- Zhang Baoshun, former Anhui party secretary
- Lu Hao, Governor of Heilongjiang
- Yuan Chunqing, former Shanxi party secretary
- Cheng, Li (2009-08-16). "One party, two coalitions in China's politics". Brookings Institution. Retrieved 2009-11-16.