Last week, China’s leadership changed peacefully for only the second time in sixty years. Xi Jinping, a so-called ‘princeling’ (i.e. descendant of a prominent or superior communist party official), is the new leader of the ruling party and has bought a new team of six others into leadership. The BBC and CNN have profiled these new leaders much better than I could, so I’ll be talking about what it actually means.
For starters, Xi has had a very anti-corruption stance throughout his political career, and hasn’t been one to hold back. In 2004, he told officials ‘Rein in your spouses, children, relatives, friends and staff, and vow not to use power for personal gain.’ This may sign a more transparent government, or at least a little less corrupt. Will it stop Gmail hacks traced back to the Chinese government and similar incidents? Probably not, but it could mean the new government will be easier to work with in future.
There’s also the fact that Xi has shown strong support for big business, especially flagship Chinese companies. Considering growth is slowing down this could be a great thing. However, considering the bad records these companies have of treating their labourers, is it necessarily a good thing for the workers?
But I’m straying from the point: why should we care? Well, unless you’re invested in China or Chinese businesses, it probably doesn’t directly affect you. However, think about it this way: co-operation with China is one of the main points in everyone’s foreign policy, they’re one of the largest economies in the world, and have the largest standing military in the world, as well a storied history of human rights and diplomatic issues. It may not directly affect you now, but it’s still something worth reading about and knowing, in case it does in the future.