HONG KONG -- Chinese President Jiang Zemin, far from stepping down as a result of giving up his post as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, appears to have bolstered his position vis-a-vis his successor as party leader, Hu Jintao.

Jiang is expected to give up his position as head of state to Hu in March, during the annual session of the National People's Congress. Even then, however, he, rather than Hu, is likely to be considered China's paramount leader. This is because, even though Hu is now nominally the party leader, Jiang has been elevated within the party by having his name written into the party constitution.

For the last 13 years, Jiang has been known as the "core" of the third generation of party leaders. At the same time, it was said that Chairman Mao Zedong was the "core" of the first generation of Chinese communists and that Deng Xiaoping, while he was still alive, was the "core" of a second generation.