Tag Archives: succession

Also meet China's next no. 2 leader, Li Keqiang

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping continues his trip to the United States ahead of his expected rise to the top leadership position after November’s party congress. Meanwhile, NPR’s Louisa Lim has a great radio story on the man expected to be the next vice president premier, Li Keqiang.

Li, who is currently vice premier, comes across as a careful—if reformist-leaning—politician. Indeed, the extent of his ties to the Tiananmen movement is part of the story.

Lim also includes reference to one of my favorite Wikileaks cables, one that endeared Li Keqiang to me during an academic project, for his insight if nothing else.

People like to quote Li’s assertion that Chinese GDP figures are “man-made.” This is notable only in that Li said it as Party Secretary of Liaoning Province, a large northeastern economy bordering North Korea. But what he supposedly said next is far more interesting for people who, despite bad GDP figures, want to understand the magnitude of Chinese economic activity. Li offered three proxies for economic output that he looked at to keep an eye on Liaoning’s heavy industry–dominated economy.

The full excerpt from the cable:

4. (C) GDP figures are “man-made” and therefore unreliable, Li said. When evaluating Liaoning’s economy, he focuses on three figures:
1) electricity consumption, which was up 10 percent in Liaoning last year;
2) volume of rail cargo, which is fairly accurate because fees are charged for each unit of weight; and
3) amount of loans disbursed, which also tends to be accurate given the interest fees charged. By looking at these three figures, Li said he can measure with relative accuracy the speed of economic growth. All other figures, especially GDP statistics, are “for reference only,” he said smiling.

The scholarly community had already thought of electricity consumption, and economists are creative when looking for proxies. But this is a vote of confidence in the idea of proxies over primary indicators, even when the indicator is “known.” The message is that closely watched numbers are also closely controlled; reality may be hiding in less scrutinized places.

It’s also worth noting that this frank discussion with someone who got the information into a U.S. diplomatic cable suggests that Li is perhaps more comfortable than usual working internationally. His English, for one thing, sounds great in the radio report.

Xi Jinping in Washington: A roundup/liveblog

This post will be was continually updated today as I find found good or interesting material on Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit to the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon.

4:00 p.m.

Last update today. Off to CFR and then offline for the evening.

The White House has posted a transcript of Obama’s remarks, as well as the “Joint Fact Sheet on Strengthening U.S.-China Economic Relations.”

Neither document is especially surprising. I noted earlier that Obama said he welcomes China’s “peaceful rise,” a reference to an earlier rhetoric associated with Zheng Bijian. A quick look reveals that “we welcome the peaceful rise of China” has been something of a talking point. See this from November.

The economic relations document is what it sounds like, focusing exclusively on economic issues. It will take some comparison to other statements in the past to assess the significance of this document. And remember, Xi isn’t president yet.

3:00 p.m.

MSNBC has posted video of Obama’s appearance with Xi Jinping:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Also, former Obama East Asia adviser Jeffrey Bader is rooting for Xi Jinping’s success.
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Xi Jinping moves one step closer to leading China

Creative Commons photo via nznationalparty on Flickr.

The headline says it all. I’m short on time today, so here are a few links.

  1. Xi’s the one? – from Blake Hounshell at FP Passport. That pun I guess was going to come some day.
  2. Michael Wines at The New York Times.
  3. The Economist Blog.

Eventually, I plan to gather some background on Xi, and when and if I do, it will be put here.