Europe Squabbles, China Frets
This has to be one of the more hilarious summaries of the EU crisis I’ve seen (from the latest issue of BusinessWeek). Click on the image to see it in full (readable) size.
You might imagine that the schoolyard squabbling among European leaders, on the heels of the divisive debt ceiling showdown in the U.S., has further reinforced the conviction of Chinese leaders in the superiority of their own one-party autocratic system. And on some level it has. But there’s also a profound nervousness and uncertainty brewing among China’s ruling elite, as this excellent article in the Financial Times points out. The headline sounds rather innocuous, but the conclusions — I particularly call your attention to the article’s last three paragraphs — are too explosive for me to reprint in a blog authored in China. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it.
Along a similar vein, you should also read and/or listen to this story in NPR, about the growing divide (and serious lack of consensus) between two camps — parties, if you will — within China’s leadership, the populist “New Left” movement as typified by Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, and the liberal market reformers, symbolized by his Chongqing predecessor, now Guangdong party boss, Wang Yang. I hinted briefly at these tensions in my profile of Bo in my primer on China’s upcoming political leadership transition, but the outlines of the conflict have sharpened considerably — and spilled into the public arena — in the months since I wrote that post. Since the debate coincides — approximately — with a struggle over economic policy between the statist NDRC (state planning bureau) and the market-reformist PBOC (central bank), Bo and Wang’s rival aspirations to join the 9-man Politburo Standing Committee next year may serve as a flash point that symbolizes a much broader contest over China’s future direction.
Peter Ford also has a thoughtful and well-balanced article this week in the Christian Science Monitor that is well worth reading, on China’s efforts to define “what it wants” on the world stage as a rising power. Its webpage also happens to have an interesting graphic showing the evolving pattern of who (including China) owns the U.S. national debt. Good stuff.