Stanley's blog

The new Chinese leadership

The media have reported over the last couple of days on the new leadership which emerged at the end of the 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, held every five years. The focus of the comments was on the nine-man (still no women) Standing Committee of the Politburo.

There are differences of opinion as to the extent that President Hu Jintao has increased his influence. It will take some time before we will know more clearly the answer to this question and the likely effect on the policies of the new government, which takes office in March 2008.

I now leave for China for two weeks and my next blog will be on Wednesday 7 November.

One final thought. All the old members of the Standing Committee were engineers. We now see the arrival of non-engineers, including a lawyer. Lets’ hope that the Chinese leadership is not eventually taken over by lawyers and professional politicians, as in the West.

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  1. Engineers certainly dominated the top Party echelons under Deng and Jiang. In terms of buildings, a new China has appeared since 1949 – an astonishing construction programme given the size of the country and its population.

    But, just as the nuclear slant in the 5th Republic’s cabinets has led France to pursue nuclear power with a vengeance, so China’s engineering bent brought such questionable projects as the Three Gorges Dam, an attempt at least to diversify away from coal power, but a prohbitively expensive, risky and environmentally harmful project at that.

    More lawyers may become a feature of China’s governing class in the future, but the law in China remains subservient to the party, so hardly constitutes a major locus of power, as in the US.

    It would have been good to have seen the State Environmental Protection Administration made a ministry, or Pan Yue (its gifted, hyperactive chief) brought into the Politburo (which has around 40 members). But no such appointment/promotion was forthcoming, suggesting that, while Pan may continue to be afforded unusual latitude in criticising one of China’s problems, he will still lack the institutional clout to turn growth clean, something urgently needed.

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