Tuesday, September 11, 2012

China's next emperor(s)

One of my regrets is that I practically know nothing about China.  About its history and, even more so about its politics.  Within my limited abilities, it is difficult enough to keep up with the country where I was born and raised, and the country where I, too, claim that this is my land.

China is no small country either and, therefore, it continues to be a mystery to me.  Some day, I shall travel to China and get a ground-level feel for that country. 

Unlike me, Ramesh, has spent a few years in China, and once before guest-blogged here about the Communist Party.  The real McKoy, as opposed to the Democratic Party that Faux Noose thinks of :) 

Ramesh has been following with interest the political developments in China, and writes this guest-post:
The official website of the Beijing Marathon, to be held on October 14th, had a clock counting out the days to the start. Pretty innocuous, you would think.  But last week, that clock turned blank and still remains blank.

No malfunction this is.  Instead, it signals to the world and, more importantly, to the Chinese people, when the expected truly momentous event would take place—the second instance of a peaceful handover of power in China.

America might be forgiven for the fixation on Obama vs Romney. But in many ways, an equally, if not more, important ”election” is taking place in China, though it is not an election where the citizens vote.  Everything is done in complete secrecy, behind locked doors, with much skulduggery, arm twisting, factional lobbying, loads of money spent, careers and alliances made and broken and every low political machination possible resorted to. Come to think of it, it seems remarkably similar to the goings on in the US election!

The outcome of all that should culminate on an autumn day sometime in October—hence, the reading of tea leaves from the disappearance of the Beijing marathon clock, the inference being that the marathon would be postponed since the date is clashing.

In the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square, in the 18th Party Congress, nine (or seven) men will walk onto the dais. Chances are practically nil that any of these will be women, so we can safely say men. Who these are, and the order in which they walk in and sit, will determine who the world, and the Chinese people have to deal with for the next ten years. This is the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, the top decision making body in the country.

As much as the Party would like to pride itself on a fa├žade of unity and a smooth change of guard, it has been anything but that, this year. One of the top contenders, Bo Xilai was purged in a virtual coup, that could serve as the plot for a thriller.  (Perhaps a script is being written in Hollywood even now!)  Rumours and counter rumours have swirled around all year.  
For the last few days, the expected new president, Xi Jinping, hasn’t been seen in public leading to a further wave of rumours. Even the date on which the party Congress will be held has not been announced yet.

Nobody knows what would happen.

But here is a completely wild guess from this blogger. Out on a mid-October day in Beijing will walk the following seven men, with the Standing Committee reduced from nine to seven members:
  • Xi Jinping: President
  • Li Keqiang: Prime Minister
  • Yu Zhengsheng
  • Zhang Dejiang
  • Wang Qishan
  • Li Yuanchao
  • Wang Yang
These will be the seven wise men who will govern China for the next decade. But Hu Jintao will continue to chair the Central Military Commission and, therefore, the real power for at least two more years. There will be much factional fighting and China will stumble along without strong leadership for some time to come.

The only certainty is that I will definitely be wrong. The game really is, how wrong ?

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