Chinese Party Turns to Mao to Shore Up Influence

CHINA'S Communist Party has restored a bedrock tenet of Maoism in an apparent effort to salvage its popularity and prevent the popular unrest that has swept away other communist regimes. In a widely publicized communiqu'e, the Central Committee called on party members Tuesday to strengthen the ``mass line,'' or their political sensitivity to citizens.

The renewal of this classic Maoist principle, say diplomats and analysts, is the party's latest attempt to purify itself since it was shaken and divided last spring by a nationwide pro-democracy movement.

The leadership is purging the party of disloyal Marxists by requiring its more than 47 million members to submit new membership applications. It has also resurrected party heroes and slogans that helped sustain authoritarian power in the past.

The communiqu'e from the Central Committee's Sixth Plenum, which ended Monday, upholds the aim of senior leader Deng Xiaoping to maintain a picture of ``stability and unity'' among the leadership. The statement makes clear that conservative ideologues have a firm hold on the propaganda apparatus, diplomats say.

``Bureaucracy, subjectivism, formalism, passivism, corruption, and other serious phenomena of divorcement from the masses have grown among some party organizations and cadres in recent years,'' the communiqu'e says. ``All comrades in the party must keep high vigilance against these phenomena ... and make every effort to restore and develop our party's fine tradition and working style of maintaining close ties with the masses.''

Deng recalled members of the old guard from retirement last May to help suppress student-led liberal activists. Since then, some have tried to solidify their informal but substantial party powers, East European and Western diplomats say.

The committee of ``retired'' elders, the Central Advisory Commission, unanimously supported the renewal of the ``mass line'' credo. In a sign of how senior members have kept their hands in politics, the commission ``called on all retired veteran comrades to do their utmost to support younger ones in doing their work, especially in strengthening links with the masses.''

Peng Zhen - an elder long associated with the legal and security network who has held no official title since 1987 - addressed a national legal conference last week on the ``domestic and international situation,'' according to the New China News Agency.

Deng Liqun, a hard-line Maoist ideologue, has renewed his influence on propaganda, diplomats and Chinese sources say. A former member of the party Secretariat who failed to win Central Committee reappointment in 1987, Deng now heads a party panel that is writing a review of China's politics since the beginning of market-oriented economic reform and eased regimentation in 1979, Chinese sources say.

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