‘China’s Top Future Leaders to Watch': Cheng Li

In the spirit of you can’t the players without a scorecard, an alert reader, who going forward wishes to remain anonymous, sent me just the scorecard to enhance your enjoyment of China’s leadership transition, ‘China’s Top Future Leaders to Watch’ by the inimitable Cheng Li:

In anticipation of China’s leadership transition, the China Center’s Cheng Li profiled 25 possible members of the next Politburo, focusing on the following three aspects: personal and professional background, family and patron-client ties, and political prospects and policy preferences.

Read through all 25 to get the feel of what China’s leaders have in common in their rise, and where they differ. Fascinating.

If only Cheng Li also made Chinese Communist Party trading cards:

  • ‘I’ll trade you my Bo Xilai for 7 Meng Jianzhus and 4 Xu Qiliangs.’
  • ‘Fugetaboutit.’

To start you off, here’s the likely new General Secretary of the CCP:

PSY At The Oxford Union–Plus From ‘Gangnam Style’ To ‘Eton Style’

There seems to a lot happening in China. Some of it may even be important.

But, just as I began to do some research to find out what the heck is going on in China, I remembered that my wife, Sojeong, told me that PSY of ‘Gangnam Style’ fame had spoken at the Oxford Union.

The Oxford Union! As in Oxford University? As in the same Oxford Union where the likes of Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein were also invited to speak? PSY?

Well, I had no choice. I had to watch. Of the many videos of the same event that I ended up watching, here’s my favorite:


And, as these things happen, I also somehow daisy-chained into watching ‘Eton Style.’ Just great. And the kids sure are a lot more fun than the Etonians I know from my generation.

WSJ Primer On The ‘Chinese Communist Party Congress’

Just in time for China’s Communist Party Congress, where the new leadership will be introduced, the Wall Street Journal has assembled all you need to know to understand the basics of what’s happening.

Start with the video.

Then, read ‘China Party Meets to Anoint Next Leaders.’

Next the ‘Interactive Graphics.’ First ‘China’s Leadership Change':

Then, peruse ‘Leaders to Watch’: Continue Reading

Debbie ‘Spend It Now’ Wins

It’s election night, and I’m surfing the networks to get updates.

Now, I’m from Florida, and, we know how to run an election. Because of how we run elections, I don’t have time to pay much attention to other local state elections. Thus, I don’t follow Michigan politics. Usually.

But, during the Senate race between incumbent Debbie Stabenow and challenger Pete Hoekstra, Mr. Hoekstra put out one of my favorite China-related ads during the Super Bowl. Enjoy it one more time:

As much fun as all this is, it didn’t help Mr. Hoekstra. I just learned that Debbie ‘Spend It Now’ is going back to the Senate.

By the way, at this writing, Mr. Romney leads Mr. Obama in Florida by about 600 votes with 81% of the vote in. Looks like we may have to bring Katherine Harris out of retirement.

‘China’s Evolving Financial Landscape': Bloomberg

For some time, the various methods of obtaining financing in China seemed to live in parallel spheres. Some analysts would dither over how much banks were lending. Others would track the activities of trust companies. Still, others look at IPOs or the shadow banking industry.

Recently, some savvy observers have begun to look at financing more comprehensively. Today, I came across a great video that in less than five minutes brings together most of the paths to getting cash. Have a look:

Evan Osnos Again on China’s Lack Of ‘Gangnam Style’

A few weeks ago, I posted about Evan Osnos article, ‘Why China Lacks “Gangnam Style.”‘

Today, I came across an interview of Mr. Osnos about the same topic on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS. I found him to be more articulate and persuasive speaking than writing (not for the first time; perhaps his future lies in broadcasting–I’m a fan either way). Have a look:

Having now been over the same territory twice with Mr. Osnos, I realize what has quietly nagged at me: He is asking the wrong question and giving the right answer.

The question is not why doesn’t China have ‘Gangnam Style?,’ as Mr. Osnos suggests.

Why? Because Korea doesn’t have ‘Gangnam Style’ either; it has PSY. Nothing in Korean popular music foreshadowed–or encouraged–PSY’s genius work.

But, Mr. Osnos answer–that Chinese society shaves off the edges–is right on target. The problem is that it applies equally or perhaps even more so to Korea.

Outside of China and Taiwan, the place I lived the longest was Seoul (where I also met my wife Sojeong, K-Pop critic extraordinaire who provides me with a steady flow of insights). What struck me in my couple of years there is that for the most part Koreans seem to be compelled to conform more by their society than Chinese are compelled to conform by their government. And, while Koreans tend to bend to overwhelming societal pressure, Chinese demonstrate extraordinary ingenuity at thwarting their government’s.

If this were Korea Debate, I would write at some length about how the impressario, Yang Hyunsuk or YG of YG Entertainment, gave PSY (short for Psycho) the freedom to express himself and take risks. And, how this atmosphere allowed PSY to develop his already outside-the-mainstream work that culminated in ‘Gangnam Style.’ If anything, the real question should be why doesn’t China have a Y.G.?

In the end, this is all beside the point. Michelangelo might have achieved greatness without Medici nurturing, and PSY might have produced ‘Gangnam Style’ without Y.G. Works of overarching or of merely popular genius come from the artists themselves, often despite the the forces surrounding them.

‘Grabs for Power Behind Plan to Shrink Elite Circle': NYT

Shortly after the U.S. presidential elections, China will begin its leadership transition. In the noise and reportage of both, one seeming small change may be about to occur in China:

To outside observers, the move may appear to be little more than bureaucratic reshuffling: trim two seats from the nine-member body [Politburo Standing Commitee] that governs China by consensus at the pinnacle of the Communist Party.

But, as ‘Grabs for Power Behind Plan to Shrink Elite Circle’ from the New York Times shows this is a move to watch carefully:

Mr. Xi and Mr. Hu may both be pushing for the downsizing of the committee, but they have different interests in mind, say party insiders. A smaller committee could, at least in theory, give either man more leverage and authority. And either could be better positioned to maneuver their allies and protégés into top seats at the next congress five years from now, halfway through Mr. Xi’s likely decade-long tenure, when several members of the committee would be expected to retire.

A lot of inside baseball in the article, but just as we in the U.S. watch the inside baseball of our own election, we would do well to understand just what the heck is going in Chinese factional politics:

But the proposal by Chinese leaders to downsize the body, the Politburo Standing Committee, offers one of the clearest windows available into the priorities of the party and the mechanics of power-sharing and factional struggles as the leadership transition nears its climax at a weeklong congress scheduled to open Nov. 8.

Oh, my. This is complicated.

Obamao’s ‘Secret’ Second Term Agenda (Should Have Been Our Scary Halloween Post)

With Mr. Obama’s edge in the upcoming election, we have reason to fear his secret agenda for a second term. To put this in perspective, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show has cataloged the unheeded warnings by the Right during the 2008 campaign and the perils of another four years of Obamao.

Now, Mr. Stewart doesn’t use the very apt description of Obamao (I got the idea from an eye-opening post by China Whisper via the Haohao Report–have a look at the rest of the Obamao pictures). Note the similarity of facial structure:

How did Mr. Stewart miss what has been so obvious to the right. Still, he got the threat right in these three reports:

Here are two more: Continue Reading