Paris: Who faces greater challenges to reform, the Xi-Li or the Obama administration?

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9 November, 2012
By: Erna Paris
Award-winning author, journalist, and historian

Having just returned (to France) from two weeks in Beijing, I’d suggest that Xi-Li would have the harder time, presuming, that is, that they are even interested in reform. Obama will have to fight, of course, but it is at least possible that the Republicans, feeling chastened, may be more willing to compromise. In any case, whatever happens in the U.S. political arena is public and subject to repercussions.

In China, on the contrary, there are no such restraints. The tea leaf fortune tellers were out in force in the weeks leading up to the 18th Congress; the secrecy was such that no one, including leading intellectuals, had any idea of what was to come.

For one thing, corruption in China is so endemic that whatever struggles might ensue over potential reform (whatever that means; no one really seemed to know) would be shadowed by resistance on the part of large numbers of people with their hands in the cookie jar. And since there is much evidence that the new president will be operating under the watchful eye of Hu Jintao as well as other past presidents, I think we may safely assume that little will change, at least in the short term.

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