Monday, October 22, 2007

Leadership Transition in China

We often hear about the "brittleness" of the leadership in China. But it is also true that there does exist a workable mechanism for identifying and promoting the next generation of leadership to ensure continuity of power.

To make way for retiring members of the Politburo, two new figures were appointed to its Standing Committee: the secretary of Shanghai's Communist Party Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, the party secretary from Liaoning Province, one of the northeastern industrial "red belt" regions. Both are in their early fifties (54 and 52 years old, respectively).

Current president Hu Jintao is expected to step down in five years as part of the regular cycle of transition. Some China observers feel that the results of the Politburo reshuffle show both a concern with preserving consensus and also with putting some limits on Hu's ability to set the agenda.

At any rate, this contrasts with the problem that can be found in other types of regimes, both democratic and non-democratic--of identifying and promoting new leaders (say Greece in the 1960s to the 1980s). This is one of my main concerns with what is happening with the transition for Russia in 2008.

I agree. I think that they've figured out a way to manage succession in a peaceful manner and bring competent men (and women at a time yet to be determined?) to power. Is it democracy? Definitely not. Will it tolerate the evolution of a liberal society? Likely not. Will it survive future challenges to its internal stability? Who knows?

But for the time being, I think they've done something that authoritarian regimes are hard pressed to achieve.
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