Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nelson Report on China's 17th Party Congress

The Nelson Report, the Beltway insider report, had this to say on the recent Party Congress in China...

17th PARTY CONGRESS...think-tanks are scheduling dueling assessments of how well President Hu did, and what to think about his likely successors. Today's effort was at the Carnegie Endowment; next Tuesday we'll all troop next door to Brookings.

No doubt Heritage, AEI and others are also in the game, and we'll double check our emails for listings, and keep you posted.

For sure, no one from either Heritage or AEI was pre-registered for Carnegie today, and we'd say that probably was a good thing, in terms of preserving the blood pressure of analysts more given to focus on the dark side of China's problems and policies.

That's our way of saying that as tremendously useful and insightful as we found most of what was offered by defense specialist Mike Swaine, Amb. Stape Roy, and economist Bert Keidel, we weren't the only ones feeling the discussion presented a far more positive approach to most issues than might have been expected.

And for perhaps the only time in our professional career do we dare to note that Amb. Roy was flat wrong in his assertion that Hu's offer to negotiate with Taiwan was without precondition.

As Swaine gently commented, following Roy's departure, the "one China" precondition clearly was stated and remains the principle obstacle to having any DPP government join in talks, and could well give pause to the KMT, as presently defined.

What we liked about the discussion was it's calm look at the structural and rhetorical differences from the 16th Party Congress, and its suggestions on what they tell us about Hu, the Chinese Leadership generally, and on the Leadership's evolving approach to China's many, very great problems.

Roy, with Keidel filling-in economic details, showed how Hu's main theme of "Scientific Development" really is a new approach and way of thinking, one stressing accountability for success in working on key crisis points such as regional and personal income balance.

The make-up of the Leadership and the CCP as a whole is now increasingly "middle class" and the managers really are, on the whole, professional managers and technocrats, not ideologues (or military heroes).

Watch, for example, to see how the Leadership is using polls to monitor "scientific development" performance at the grass roots levels where social and economic unrest are created, due to leadership failures at those levels. This is real, and not PR (although it's not "democracy", either).

The new party line about "openness" is the antithesis of Marxism, and is "all about the middle class".

Keidel's presentation was perhaps the most vulnerable to charges by our hypothetical AEI/Heritage commentators, since he pushed right past most, if not all of the obvious criticisms, to describe in non-value laden terms what the Leadership is doing, and why.

Balanced rationalism is to be valued, at any time. But we make our comments because the debate about "China rising" is on the upswing, it will not be settled anytime soon, and if you favor a rational, unemotional approach to analysis, you have to be prepared to rebut those who prefer, as one Loyal Reader put it, "to see the glass as not always at least half-full".

Keidel's central analytic model is to see China "not as a's a corporate technocracy. The corporation equals the Communist Party of 50 million members, who elect a Board of Directors, the Central Committee, which selects the management at the top, the Politburo, and the Standing Committee (chaired by Hu).

All the new leaders are technocrats, and leadership is by consensus...there will likely never be even another Deng Xiaoping, much less another Mao.


Anonymous said...

50 million members elect a board of directors? that implies some real choice of policy makers. isn't that out and out false?

Anonymous said...

from wikipedia: "The Politburo is nominally appointed by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China but the practice since the 1980s has been that the Politburo is self-perpetuating.
The power of the Politburo resides largely in the fact that its members generally simultaneously hold positions within the People's Republic of China state positions and with the control over personnel appointments that the Politburo and Secretariat have. In addition, some Politburo members hold powerful regional positions. How the Politburo works internally is unclear..."

Is the Board of Directors at a corporation self-perpetuating?