Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Xi Jinping: Can A Princeling Become King

A Look at likely Contenders for leadership of the Chinese Communist Party

Xi Jinping: An Heir Apparent?
Autumn 2011 marks the time for China's fifth generation of leaders to be selected and anointed.

The question on every one's lips is who will be the top leadership contenders for the positions of president and prime minister of China the ascendant.

Whoever is chosen has a very hard act to follow. The current president Hu Jintao and his prime minister Wen Jaibao have enjoyed considerable success during their tenure at the helm.

In the period of their stewardship China has risen to be the second most powerful economy in the world and is poised within the next 15 years to take the number one mantle from the United States.

Personally, Hu and Jaibao enjoy unprecedented popularity both internationally and domestically. They are seen as moderates, facilitators of dramatic change and have done so with very little antagonism.

One person  touted as an odds on favorite for the position of President is Xi Jinping the 57 year old (soon to be 58 as of June 1) current Vice President.

Xi Jinping is Beijing born and the son of Communist veteran Xi Zhongxun, himself a former vice president. Xi Jinping married the famous Chinese folk singer Peng Liyuan in 1987, his second marriage and has a daughter Xi Mingze who currently studies at Harvard University in the United States.

Xi Jinping is dubbed one of China's "princelings" also referred to as the Crown Prince Party, children of renowned communist leaders who were involved with Mao in the revolution. Xi Jinping's father, Xi Zhongxun, was harshly treated by Mao during the "Cultural revolution" prior to his full reconciliation with the CCP.

Another notable "Princeling" is Bo Xilai Secretary of the CCP as well as many more in government, education and industry.

The "Princelings" are noted for their criticism of China's current path, particularly it's road down capitalism, and it's lack of attention to military matters. Their tendency is to be pro Marxist with Xi Linping having a doctorate in Marxism (as well as his obligatory Engineers degree).

This tendency towards a more Marxist ideological platform for China is one thing that may stand against Xi Jinping if he harbours ambitions for the top job. He has, however, been praised for his hard line against corruption.

The second thing that may count against him is that he is very light on foreign affairs exposure and experience. His three major grand tours have been restricted to South America, Belgium ,Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, and Japan, Cambodia, Myanmar and South Korea. All of which occurred in 2009. This itinerary would point to an emphasis on economic relations rather than full blown diplomacy.

It is during his visit to Mexico where he created a little furore when he was caught, off camera admittedly, saying:

"There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us [China]."

Hardly something that you would wish to see on your curriculum vitae for China's top job.

My feel is that Xi Linping has not the credentials for the top job certainly he is not nearly as well credentialed as Hu Jintao was when he took leadership. His foreign affairs credentials are weak and his gaffe in Mexico, whilst probably on the lips of all Chinese diplomats and politicians, may be inexcusable in it being uttered publicly and shows some naivety on his part.

Lastly the tag of "princeling" and it's negative connotations, certainly in the west, and the fact that their ideas differ ideological from the highly successful Hu and Wen combinations must certainly come to play in the final outcome of what looks to be an exciting time in China's history.

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