[Marxism] China's Congressional Congress Heralds a Generational Shift

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 15 09:17:29 MDT 2007

(The restrained tone of this report is an indication of how important
the Chinese link is to key sectors of U.S. business at this conjuncture.)


China's Congressional Congress 
Heralds a Generational Shift
October 15, 2007

BEIJING -- This week's Chinese Communist Party Congress is likely to
advance a shift toward a new breed of elite officials familiar with
economics and business and appreciative of links with the outside

The party's 17th National Congress, which starts today and ends
Sunday, is expected to elevate members of this younger, more broadly
educated cohort into senior party positions, and lead to similar
changes in posts around China.

The shift will let the younger generation begin having more influence
on official thinking and policy making, and could transform --
although gradually -- the way Chinese officials deal with foreign

The congress, which happens twice a decade, will ratify a new slate
for the party's most important ruling bodies, including the Political
Bureau, or Politburo, with about two dozen members who meet monthly,
and its powerful Standing Committee, comprising the eight most senior
men in the leadership. The congress will also endorse a broad
political program. It is expected to emphasize the effort of party
chief Hu Jintao, China's president, to push more balanced development
to address the growing wealth gap and other effects of economic

Many of China's current generation of top leaders, in their 60s, were
trained as engineers and grew up in the decades before China ended
its global isolation and embarked on market-oriented economic
overhauls in 1978. Many in the next generation were trained in law or
economics and came of age in the 1980s.

Two of the most prominent members of the younger cohort, which
collectively is known as China's "fifth generation" of leaders, are
Xi Jinping , now the top party official in Shanghai, and Li Keqiang ,
the party chief of Liaoning, an industrial province in the northeast.
Messrs. Xi and Li, both of whom hold law degrees, are expected to be
elevated this week to the Standing Committee, about half of whose
members are expected to change. One of the two men later may be
tapped to succeed current party chief Mr. Hu when his tenure ends,
which is expected in 2012. Mr. Hu isn't expected to designate a
successor this week and will likely continue to preside over a
standing committee that rules by consensus, rather than by dictates
of a single leader.

Younger leaders are, like their predecessors, all loyal party members
who are unlikely to push radical shift in policy. The new generation's
experience in law and other social sciences fits a leadership working
to bolster China's political and financial systems to match its
booming economy, just as the prior generation's background reflected
their era's preoccupation with building dams, bridges and other

The rise of the new generation could make it easier for foreign
executives to move along projects or gain access to senior officials,
since the younger leaders better understand business and often have
more experience dealing with foreigners. Some have spent significant
time working or studying in the U.S. or elsewhere abroad.

Most of the top leadership, for now, will still be from the older
generation. Newcomers may be in subsidiary jobs like vice-governors
or vice-ministers, or leading advisors in government or think tanks.
Still, they could be poised for more senior jobs later.

The international community has been demanding Beijing become more
active in global diplomacy. China has faced pressure to weigh in on
Myanmar, though has claimed it doesn't usually intervene in other
nation's domestic politics.

But analysts say that will change with the influx of more
foreign-trained officials.

--Andrew Batson contributed to this article.

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