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 , 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.”

January 5, 2013 10:16 PM
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Categories: Politics, Society