INTRODUCTION: Chinese Communist Party Chairman Hua Guofeng re-emerged in public life on Wednesday night (4 February) for the first time since November.
SV Mr. Hua meeting Vietnamese defector Hoang Van Hoan, Madame Chou En-lai and others
SV Hua and Van Hoan walk in and take seats
SV PAN FROM Guests TO Hua and Van Hoan seated talking PAN TO Madame Chou talking
CU Flowers on table, ZOOM OUT TO Hua, Van Hoan and others sitting down to a meal (2 shots)
SV All drink a toast
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Chinese Communist Party Chairman Hua Guofeng re-emerged in public life on Wednesday night (4 February) for the first time since November. He dined with an old friend, Mr. Hoang Van Hoan, a former Vietnamese Politburo member, who defected to China eighteen months ago.
SYNOPSIS: The occasion was the Chinese New Year's Eve celebrations to bring in the Year of the Cock in the Chinese calendar. The host, Mr. Van Hoan, greeted Mr. Hua and other guests, including Madame Chou En-lai, widow of the former Chinese Premier.
The reappearance of Mr. Hua does not signify that he is staging a comeback, according to diplomatic sources. However, the extensive coverage given the New Year's Even dinner showed the Chinese people the government was presenting a united front against persistent rumours of serious disagreements within its ranks.
Reuters News agency quoted diplomats as saying that Mr. Hua has lost his power struggle with Party Vice-Chairman Deng Xiaoping.
Diplomats believe Mr. Hua will be relieved of this Chairmanship at the next meeting of the Party Central Committee, expected to be held in a few weeks. Chinese officials said he could be replaced by Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang, a close ally of Mr. Deng.
Mr. Hua is reported to have enjoyed increasing support from some senior military officers, who have been in opposition to Mr. Deng's pragmatic army policies.
According to Reuters, the predominantly pro-Deng leadership seems to want to strengthen its control over the army before Mr. Hua's resignation is announced.
Meanwhile, sources have speculated that Mr. Hua may be manoeuvring for the best consolation appointment he can arrange for graciously giving up his post. One possible role is that of Deputy Chairman.