Monday, November 19, 2012

China new rulers: reformists by default? - China Weekly Hangout

Xi Jinping 习近平
Xi Jinping 习近平 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After the uneventful transition of power in China's Communist Party last week, first analyses are still coming in. Next week (this week would be too early), the China Weekly Hangout plans to focus on what we can learn from the names that emerged in the standing committee of the politburo. Or more important, of those who did not show up.
Thursday 29 November at 10pm Beijing Time, 3PM CET (Europe) and 9pm EST (US/Canada) who hope to get an eminent group of veteran China watchers together. Nobody has yet been invited, so feel free to volunteerWe hope to get at least a few of the usual suspects in the panel.

Of course, we will open with the question whether we can expect reform from the new rulers or not. Second, we will see what developments we can see on the second and third tier of China's new rulers, and explore whether that indicates a possible direction China is going to take.

The first analysis by Western media last week was pretty grim, as China watchers saw mainly the old guard flocking into the 7-man strong leading standing committee of the politburo. Apart from upcoming president Xi Jinping and upcoming premier Li Keqiang, who have been in line for this position for half a decade, all men are solid into their 60's. But as the chief editor Wang Xiangwei of the South China Morning Post pointed out, the reforms by previous Hu/Wen regime have been so meager, Xi Jinping would already by default become a reformer: a worse record might hardly be possible. (ping me if you hit a firewall at the SCMP, I have saved a copy of the article).
Wang argues that Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji, the predecessors of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, were the real reformers in China's recent history.
Wang Xiangwei is not an unsuspected source. He has always been accused of being a front man for the governmental propaganda tool the China Daily in the Hong Kong-based newspaper. But how you would look at his role - the South China Morning Post lost its position as a regional opinion leader over the past decades - he is certainly better positioned to have a look behind the scenes in Beijing than any of his predecessors.But movements on second and third tier levels might be more important; at least they offer some surprises.

Next week, we might see the fallout of the new nominees clearer than today, so we can make some predictions on where China is heading after the second crucial meeting of the National People's Congress in March 2013, where the transition will be finalized. We will announce a program and an event page later this week.

This week, on November 22, the China Weekly Hangout is about the future of nuclear power in China.
You can register at our event page here. (Two weeks earlier we missed the change in daylight saving time in the US and had to cancel.) First part will focus on the resumption of building nuclear power stations, the second part of the chances NIMBY protests can derail this ambitious program.

Earlier this month, the China Weekly Hangout looked back at the legacy of the ten-year Hu/Wen tenure with Janet Carmosky, Greg Anderson and Fons Tuinstra.

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