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Recent China research
|China Weekly: Car sales improve, but luxury brands face potholes, 21 May 2013|
|Xi fights graft to strengthen the regime, Jonathan Fenby, 21 May 2013|
|China Weekly: A China case study: Bottled water adds to food safety problems, 14 May 2013|
|China Weekly: China’s White Goods: Survival of the biggest, 9 May 2013|
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Recent blog posts
Watch the clouds,
20 May 2013
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7 May 2013
Rising confrontations and the China Dream,
2 May 2013
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10 Apr 2013
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The Xi question
It is now a week since Xi Jinping, China's leader in waiting, dropped out of public sight. After he missed a meeting with Hillary Clinton in Beijing, the Chinese told the US team that Xi had back trouble. Then the on-line rumour mill took off saying that he had hurt himself swimming or playing soccer, that he had suffered a stroke, that he had been in a traffic accident -or that military supporters of Bo Xilai, the fallen politician, had crashed their jeeps into his car (that posting was taken down after two hours). Another school thinks he and the Party discipline chief are simply busy wrapping up the Bo Xilai case.
So what do we know about the real situation? In truth, nothing beyond the fact that in the run-up to the Communist Party Congress due later this year (date still not announced) the annointed successor to Hu Jintao is nowhere to be seen.
That poses a question: if Xi is unable to take on the Party Secretariatship, what difference would it make?
The answer is - most probably very little as far as policy is concerned. There would be a new game on the personal front. Hu might seek to stay on while promoting Li Keqiang as his successor to head the Party. Wang Qishan's chances of becoming Prime Minister if Li moved up would be enhanced but the summit of power in China has become so structured and so bounded by it's own internal machinery, in a modern re-rub of the empire of old, that who is at the top matters little.
That could change, of course, if Xi does take the reins and asserts himself more forcefully than Hu has in the last ten years. First he has to come out of purdah and that is something even the most seasoned China watcher will have to wait for.