Nicholas Kristof: Looking for a Jump-Start in China
In his final column from his current trip to China, Nicholas Kristof gives an optimistic assessment of the new administration of Xi Jinping, predicting, “a resurgence of economic reform, and probably some political easing as well”:
Here’s my case for Xi as a reformer.
First, it’s in his genes. His father, Xi Zhongxun, was a pioneer of economic restructuring and publicly denounced the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in 1989. Xi’s mother chooses to live in Shenzhen, the most capitalist enclave in the country.
Xi is also one of the first Chinese leaders to send a child to the United States as an undergraduate. His daughter is a junior at Harvard, reflecting her parents’ emphasis on learning English and their admiration for American education.
It helps that the bar is low for Xi: he follows President Hu Jintao, who is widely regarded in China as a failure. Even government ministers complain that he squandered his 10 years as leader. Today there is pent-up demand for change.
Kristof does acknowledge that Xi is more nationalistic than Hu, and in the case of a confrontation with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, “all bets are off.”