Looking for a jump-start in China
NICHOLAS D KRISTOF
Here is my prediction about China: The new paramount leader, Xi Jinping, will spearhead a resurgence of economic reform, and probably some political easing as well. Mao’s body will be hauled out of Tiananmen Square on his watch, and Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning writer, will be released from prison.
These won’t happen immediately—Xi won’t even be named president until March—and I may be wrong entirely. But my hunch on this return to China, my old home, is that change is coming. Here’s my case for Xi as a reformer.
First, it’s in his genes. His father, Xi Zhongxun, was a pioneer of economic restructuring and publicly denounced the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in 1989. Xi’s mother chooses to live in Shenzhen, the most capitalist enclave in the country.
Xi is also one of the first Chinese leaders to send a child to the United States as an undergraduate. His daughter is a junior at Harvard, reflecting her parents’ emphasis on learning English and their admiration for American education.
It helps that the bar is low for Xi: he follows President Hu Jintao, who is widely regarded in China as a failure. Even government ministers complain that he squandered his 10 years as leader. Today there is pent-up demand for change.
President Hu, who always reads speeches from texts, is a robot who surrounds himself with robots. One such robot aide is Ling Jihua, whose 23-year-old son was driving a Ferrari one
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