Inside the Capitol

Monday, November 05, 2012

11-9 New China leader knows U.S. well

110912 China

SHANGHAI – By the time you read this, the world's two most powerful countries will have decided whether they want a leadership change. I'm not going to speculate about the U.S. elections although modern technology allows our cruise ship to bring us major U.S. news channels.
But speculation over here is that China is about to have a major change in its leadership. China, of course, doesn't do it quite the way we do. There have been no endless national campaigns with daily polls. The suspense here is caused by the secrecy of Chinese internal politics.
And it appears the ruling politburo is ready to make a change just about the time you read this. Leadership changes don't happen often in China. Its party leaders like long range planning. It has served them well in moving from a Third World country to a major international power.
A few years ago, there were multiple possibilities for a new leader. One of them, Xi Jiping, toured the United States visiting locations he had frequented years ago as a foreign student. As I recall he even spent a night in an Iowa farmhouse with a family he had known as a student.
He said he was the likely choice as China's new leader but there were other likely candidates back home. Possibly he thought the U.S. tour might help his chances. But at this point it appears the other candidates eliminated themselves for various sorts of corruption.
One even was accused of murdering an English businessman with whom he had become too financially cozy. It appears his wife is going to take the fall for that one and is headed to a "luxury medical facility."
The major problem in Chinese politics isn't too different from corruption in democracies. Leaders are tempted to get rich as a result of their power. In our country, leaders often get away with it. But getting rich is particularly difficult to fit into the communist philosophy.
So it appears as though China is about to have a new leader who has some good relations with the United States. At this point, it is difficult for me to tell whether that has helped or hurt him.
It just doesn't seem to be a major factor. Surprisingly outsiders aren't able to discern which way he leans politically. To those who see all communists as being alike, scholars who study such things say there are conservative and progressive communists.
Reportedly the formal installation of a new leader isn't until next March. During the time in between, he gets introduced to the world.
Remember back during the Beijing Olympics when Russia used the cover of constant reporting on the athlete events to invade neighboring Georgia without much public notice?
Those Olympics occurred not long after the murder of the English businessman. China used the occasion to quickly handle the scandal without any notice from the world's media covering the Olympics.
Shanghai is China's featured city. It is the country's biggest city and reportedly the sixth largest in the world. It provides a contrast of old beyond comprehension with the most ultramodern features in the world.
We saw the world's fastest elevator up one of the tallest buildings in the world. It provides a read out of your speed. We didn't ride it. My wife said it would not just make her ears pop. It would make them explode.

They also have the fastest trains. The one to the airport moves at 430 kilometers per hour – without a sound. Subways run everywhere. Despite a tremendous amount of public transportation auto traffic is horrible.
Sidewalks are a sea of humanity. Hustlers are everywhere. The shore lecturer on the ship warned that a few people every trip return with stories about being taken in a clever scandal.
This is the city, of course, that gave us the term "shanghaied." Nevertheless it was a jaw dropping experience.


Post a Comment

<< Home