Who will take China to the next level?

China was at a turning point 25 years ago, just before I first arrived..  Leadership was in transition. The US Congress was still debating whether to give China MFN status. Foreign companies had yet to flood over in waves.   Shenzhen as an experiment was still in doubt.  And of course China had yet to join the WTO.  What happened?   China took off, and 8% annual growth is now the norm. Millions of Chinese got rich, usu at the health and expense of their factory workers.

But now what?  Who will take China to the next level?  The new leader, Mr. Jinping, will obviously be the next ruler of China.   However, we all know he's just head of a committee, rather than an actual ruler with new ideas and initiatives.  He will NOT rule by fiat.  Rather, he will have to rule by consensus, all the while paying attention to the agenda's of his rivals.

So who will take China to the next level?  It will be who it always has been, since the days at least of Jiang Zemin.  A nameless, anonymous bureacracy, accountable to no one, but other nameless, shadowy leaders.  Do they have the talent to manage China for the next 10 years?  20?

Are they well traveled?
Can they effectively deal with the outside world?
Are they well educated?
What views about the world do they hold?
Do they hold their powerless Chinese brethren in contempt?
Are they flexible to change?

For the past twenty years the bureacracy could mostly just sit back and, while of course busy from day to day, could mostly just watch the foreign devils roll in with their suitcases of cash, and machinery, and create jobs.  Not anymore.  As the Chinese economic behemoth slows down, China will need leaders with flexible decision making skills, to keep the Red Machine going.   They will need to continue to encourage(and not antagonize) investors, while creating jobs.  They will need to create policies that feed the growth of the Machine, while not biting the hand(foreign investment), that feeds them.

Will this vast, mysterious, nameless governing class have what it takes?


  1. Interesting to see the comment on Jinping in hindsight

  2. Yes it is....methinks he has more power than I thought he would have. More than Jiang Zemin, or anyone else for that matter. A bit of a surprise. Good for you scrolling all the way back, deep into the archives. Good for you!


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