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Friday, 16 November 2012

Welcome to His Xiness, Top Dog of All The Things

Xi Jinping, top dog of ... um ... all the things.
China's leadership transition has taken place and the new leader of ... um ... all the things is ... Xi Jinping! (But no surprises, we knew this since 2007.) Unlike Hu Jintao, his predecessor in the position of top dog, Xi apparently also takes control of the military during this transition, which makes him ... um ... more biggerer than Hu. His Serene Xiness (see picture, right) sort of coasted into place like a duck at a shooting gallery, except with the complete absence of public debate, politicking, and a combative press corps, there's noone holding the gun. Instead, His Xiness and the other six Standing Committee members, the guys who call the shots for the next 10 years, or five years, or something, appeared, unruffled and perfect, ideal leaders in this ideal and perfect nation as it forges ahead on its ideal and perfect way into an ideal and perfect future.

And we get pissed off because Fox News says things we don't like, or whichever media outlet you tend to disagree with. Live with it, baby, because the alternative is pretty scary. His Xiness would never tolerate the kind of verbal sledging that goes on day-in-day-out in the public sphere in a country with such a flawed and contested political system as the US or Australia. Want to ruffle my feathers, you bastard? Go to jail.

So reading the coverage of China's leadership transition in the New York Times is interesting, but not very illuminating. The top dogs are all died-in-the-wool conservatives, good ol' boys who have mouthed the Party line for the past 40 years, firm in their support of a system that they will no doubt proceed to exploit, now they are top dogs, so that they can feather their own nests with a bit of the ready stuff, just like all the others who came before them. But it's not really important. What's important is that future leaders can also cruise into place in unruffled sereneness, unencumbered by any embarrassing need to solicit votes (how undignified!) from a fractious electorate. Serenity, a Buddha-like smile on your face, is the main prerequisite for these top doggies, going forward.

His Xiness had a few words to say, however, and some pundits aver that the man will have to try to find ways to make sure the economy continues to grow. This might, we're told, require some political liberalisation. But who the fuck knows? The tea-leaf readers in the Beijing press gallery might have some inkling, but they're not in any hurry to inform the plebs. What we get instead are a few choice quotes from China-watchers placed in foreign institutions - universities and the like - who spend a good deal of their time, presumably, checking to see which way His Xiness combed his hair this morning and whether that is going to be a factor in the likelihood of economic liberalisation, establishment of the rule of law, or whatever MAJOR ISSUE appears likely to be addressed. Byzantine does not adequately describe the operations of the Chinese Communisty Party.

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