Hua Guofeng has refused to step down from the chairmanship of the Chinese Communist Party, according to an informed source. The refusal has delayed the convening of the sixth plenum of the party's central committee, at which Mr. Hua's resignation in favor of General Secretary Hu Yaobang was to be announced.
Mr. Hu is a protege of China's de facto leader, party Vice-Chairman Deng Xiaoping. Mr. Hua refused to attend a work conference of the central committee held Dec. 17 to 27, according to this source. Mr. Hua's resignation was to have been a principal topic of the work conference, bringing together important provincial party leaders as well as leaders at headquarters. As a result the conference ended inconclusively.
At the conference, the first secretary of Hunan Province, Mao Zhiyong, and the first secretary of Shandong Province, Bai Rubing, ar said to have supported Mr. Hua. Both are among the few provincial party leaders who, like Mr. Hua himself, owe their positions to the now discredited Cultural Revolution inaugurated by Chairman Mao Tse-tung in 1966. Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, and the so- called "gang of four" held sway in China during the 10 years of the Cultural Revolution, in which thousands of intellectuals, party and government officials, and ordinary citizens were purged, imprissoned, tortured, or killed.
Mr. Hua's refusal to cooperate with a scenario that had been set up by Mr. Deng and his associates means that a great deal more backstage maneuvering is required before the plenum can be convened. A plenum is a plenary session of the committee's more than 200 full members and more than 100 alternate members.
Although Mr. Hua has lost the chairmanship of the party's military commission to Mr. Deng, he still retains support within the armed forces. Many middle-level officers are said to identify Mr. Hua with measures taken in recent years to improve their pay and working conditions, and to be suspicious of what his removal might portend. The party's military commission controls the armed forces.
The work conference was originally supposed to endorse a scenario that ran as follows, according to an informed source. Mr. Hua would step down as chairman at the sixth plenum, and would be elected to one of the vice-chairmanships of the party. (The party now has four vice-chairmen: Mr. Deng, Marshal Ye Jiangying, Li xiannian, and Chen Yun.) Hu Yaobang would be elected to succeed Mr. Hua as chairman. Hua's position as vice-chairman would remain an honored one, and at an appropriate time he would again be seen receiving foreign guests.
The sixth party plenum would in turn ope the way to the 12th party congress, at which new officers and a new central committee would be elected. Had Mr. Hua chosen to cooperate, he might well have been able to keep his vice- chairmanship at this congress. Now, even to ordinary Chinese who are seldom given glimpses of what goes on behind the red walls of Zhongnanhai, the compound adjoining the Forbidden City where China's top leaders have their offices, the news media have given a clear indication that something is amiss. Mr. Hua was conspicuously missing from a television broadcast showing leaders at the traditional New Year's Eve celebration.