Monday, January 30, 2017

From Cheng Li Brooking Brief on Xi Jinping Priorities

MR. MCCRAE: Chris McCrae, Norman McCrae Foundation. I particularly like the last chapter of your book, because I read it as given a map of the next two years, which are, maybe, very critical both in China and the U.S. I was wondering could you maybe make a list of the top five things on the agenda for Xi Jinping over the next two years. Obviously, you’ve mentioned the 19th Party Congress, and we've had the U.S. -- America relations. What might the other three be?

. LI: Well, China, like the United States, sometimes is driven by event, so any extreme event will drastically change his top priority. But assume that he could relatively control, I think three things he will do.

Number one, actually, the economic reform. (Inclusion) At the moment, you know, if you buy my argument, he is really not firmly in control, because that a lot of leaders are (inaudible) high, come as Youth League. They may be resist some policies, but after the 19th Party Congress his people will be far more, you know -- far better positioned, so he can carry out the economic reform that he actually not have been doing so well in the past few years. Now, someone said that Xi Jinping do not care about economic reform. I don't buy that. Of course for him, the priority is consolidate his power to pursue military reform, I mean, I think there's a legitimate reason for him to do so, without which, he himself would be in big trouble. But if he does not care, economic affairs, he will not kind of control all these positions, particularly economic leadership position. And so that means that he wants to make, you know, his legacy in this particular area. It is very, very difficult, but I think we will see that he will carry out a lot of reform program, which are delayed. That's number one.

Number two, again, he is not known as a political reformer. But on the other hand, he understands the importance of institution development. Ultimately his legacy will be determined by that. So, whether he will pursue some institutional reform, and of course that my view, he may not identify successor later this year, but that does not mean that he can resist any kind of arrangement. So, how to make arrangement? I don’t know. But I think that he must think hard if you just refuse to take that you -- not only your critics will go after you, even your allies think that you do not do a good service. So, that the things -- is the big challenge. Now, certainly he will have more control about party, discipline them, and establish more mechanism, but what kind of details, yet to see.

Finally, it's international arena, you will see he's quite busy, he travels a lot, and he probably more than any other of his colleagues wanted to, you know, seize the moment to make China as a leader in certain areas. But of course to be careful, he'll need to make sure that it's not a necessary, you know, prematurely pursue that position. And so these are the three things, I think, his top priority.

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