October 15, 2007
One of the great things about claiming to be a China expert is that no-one will categorically refute what you say.
China is the source of many contradictory and confusing conclusions. The western media report that either China is on the verge of imminent collapse or on the brink of economic and political dominance.
China is a large, complex nation, with internal differences across regions, cities and industries that are often wider than the differences across nations.*
Good information is hard to come by and even more difficult to interpret.
China is a country much observed but little understood.
China is not a single actor moving in a single specified direction. It contains a multitude of actors all finding their way in the midst of unprecedented change.
There is no single leader, no overarching master plan, no simple explanation for what China will become in the future. The Communist Party is still in the process of transition from a revolutionary party to a ruling party.
The 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party began today in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. The congress is held every five years and is the most important event in the Chinese political calendar. The Congress will decide the Eleventh Five Year Programme and decide upon the new leadership. Most important of all is the reshuffling of the Politburo and the new composition of the (currently) eight member Standing Committee, which is the powerhouse of the PRC government. Particularly important are the extent of the consolidation of Hu Jintao’s power, the coming of age of the Fifth Generation of leadership which will take over in 2012, and the selection of Hu’s successor.
For reporting of the Congress see the Financial Times hard copy and visit www.ft.com/china. This blog will address this week EU-China relations and problems associated with the Olympic Games.
* These reflections are substantially drawn from an excellent book, shortly to be published and highly recommended: ‘China Into the Future’ by W John Hoffman & Michael J Enright, Wiley, (ISBN 0-470-82244-9) $29.95.Author : Stanley Crossick