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China’s Next Generation of Leaders

By Matthew Yglesias on March 5, 2011 at 6:28 pm

"China’s Next Generation of Leaders"

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Geoff Dyer reads some interesting tea leaves out of the Chinese succession:

The holiday is a time to pay respects to family elders and mentors. I know people in their forties and fifties who still visit their favourite school teacher over the break and among the upper -echelons of the Chinese Communist party, respected older comrades are given their due. The flurry of activity was outside the family home of Hu Yaobang, the former leader of the Chinese -Communist party who died in 1989. Among the dutiful visitors were Xi Jinping, the man slated to be the next president of China, and Li Keqiang, the likely next premier.

Calling on the widow of a former leader might seem run-of-the-mill, but Hu Yaobang is far from a run-of-the-mill figure in Communist party history. During the 1980s, the party split over whether its economic reforms should be combined with political opening. After pushing a liberal line, Hu was dramatically ousted from office in 1987 by more conservative members of the leadership. It was news of his death in April 1989, by then a broken man, that sparked the Tiananmen Square protests. In official celebrations of the party’s history, his name is never mentioned. Along with Zhao Ziyang, the leader who succeeded him and who was then purged after Tiananmen, Hu was China’s Gorbachev.

The whole article is well worth reading. The actual operation of the Chinese political system and the views of the actors within it is something that most of us know far too little about.

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