The five-yearly congress of China’s Communist Party that ended with the unveiling of the new leadership here Thursday has — albeit unwittingly — told the rest of the world a lot about the challenges facing the last major state ruled by a Communist Party.
The outgoing leader, Hu Jintao, opened the meeting on Nov. 8 by reading out a list of problems confronting the country. The need for reform to cope with them was evident. His successor, Xi Jinping, told journalists after he was appointed on Thursday of the need to do more for the people and to deal with corruption and bureaucratization in the party.… Seguir leyendo »
We are so used to runaway economic numbers from China that this week’s data dump seems to betoken hard times for the world’s second biggest economy. The bears prophesying doom from their caves scent their hour of vindication., However, though one has to be cautious in assessing such a unique animal as the last major state headed by a Communist party, they are almost certainly wrong. Setting aside the short-term negative market reaction, the data is in fact positive rather than negative – so long as the people in charge keep their nerve.
Of course, the 7.6% growth figure for the second quarter is down from 8.1% in the first three months of the year – and contrasts sharply with the double-digit performance reached as a result of the country’s massive fiscal and monetary stimulus package launched at the end of 2008.… Seguir leyendo »
The dust hasn’t settled on the dramatic Bo Xilai affair in China. Indeed, it may never fully do so despite a report from Beijing that the Communist Party has decided to suspend him and that his wife is in detention. It is 41 years since a previous shooting star of Chinese politics, Mao’s anointed successor, Lin Biao, died in a plane crash after apparently attempting a coup, and we still do not know exactly what happened.
But amid the rumors of an attempted coup and Politburo divisions, along with the murky death of a British businessman in Bo’s former stronghold, important elements are emerging that are likely to have a significant bearing on the way the last major state ruled by a Communist Party evolves.… Seguir leyendo »
China’s rise is a commonplace of our times. The last major state on earth ruled by a Communist party appears set to dominate the planet, surpassing an anaemic west and owning the 21st century. After the temporary economic downturn of 2008, its growth has soared once more to make it the planet’s second biggest economy. Everything about it is huge, starting with its 1.3 billion people. Its Communist party is the planet’s biggest political movement; it contains 55% of the world’s pigs; its people smoke 38% of the cigarettes consumed on earth.
So it is very easy to be swept away by the apparent inevitability of China’s dominance, especially for those who were let down by the Soviet Union’s failure to get the better of the United States and now see a new champion in the east.… Seguir leyendo »
Together with Bastille Day and the anniversaries of the end of the two world wars, today is a seminal date for France, reflected in the visit of President Nicolas Sarkozy to London for anniversary ceremonies and a plethora of celebrations on both sides of the Channel. It also raises intriguing questions about the Franco-British relationship, Europe, transatlantic links – and the legacy of the greatest French leader of the 20th century.
Charles de Gaulle’s call on the BBC from London on this day in 1940 to his country not to give up the fight against Germany marked a historic moment, which salvaged French pride in subsequent years despite the way France had crumbled in the face of the Nazi assault.… Seguir leyendo »
The violence in China’s far western region of Xinjiang and the export-led economic downturn the country has suffered appear to have little in common. But Beijing’s reaction to both does, and paints a revealing picture of the way the leaders of the People’s Republic act when confronted with major problems.
In both cases, the reaction has been to deploy maximum military resources. This is keeping with the Communist party’s tradition of applying the techniques evolved by Mao Zedong, applying mass campaigns to deal with problems or promote policies in the form of the army attacks that won the civil war in 1949.… Seguir leyendo »