As expected, the 19th Party Congress was a coronation, as Trump just confirmed, with, amazingly, the idea of “XJP Thought” being raised and approved. The official line followed by much of the Western media, that Xi is now the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao, is simply not true. Deng Xiaoping, who ran China from 1978 to his death in 1997, handled far greater challenges and more feisty opponents from his sole official position as chairman of the China Bridge Association. The trend, however, appears to be to gradually remove others from memory. Here for the record is the full list of party leaders since 1949: Mao, Hua Guofeng, Hu Yaobang, Zhou Ziyang, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi. So that’s from seven down to two. As they used to say in the Soviet Union: the future is fixed, it’s the past that is uncertain. It doesn’t matter much what people in the street think, but we wonder how people in the party view these developments. Diversity is a good thing in the long term, and that’s one reason to not discount India which, for all its faults, really knows how to do diversity. All members of the politburo are Han males as are the vast majority of the Central Committee. Deng instituted two basic rules of leadership succession: mandatory retirement age and a maximum of two terms at the top. The departure of Wang Qishan kept Rule One alive, but given that the new politburo includes no next-gen members, Rule Two is, as expected, in play. China has systemically been holding its breath for months to wait for the congress, and now it is over. Whatever pent-up whatevers have been delayed – changes to policy, trends and tendencies of all stripes that have been suppressed – may now become apparent. Whatever else this last week has been, it is not the end of history. Enjoy the weekend!
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