Enough about Xi–Who is running the economy?

Fascinating piece from the Boston Globe today about Li Keqiang, who will be promoted within the Communist Party’s top council after the party’s massive congress ends later this week.

According to the Globe, Li is a “cautious enforcer” who speaks English and comes from a generation of politicians born and raised in an era of greater openness to Western culture and values. Which means he definitely knows how to play those shifty-ass political gains we’ve come to know and loathe in North America and Europe. Only with a tasty Communist bent:

“Li will be promoted within the leadership’s top council after a pivotal party congress closes later this week, and is expected to take the economy-focused post of premier from outgoing Wen Jiabao next spring.

Li was governor of the agricultural province of Henan in 1998 during an unusual explosion of AIDS cases.

Tens of thousands of people had contracted HIV from illegal blood-buying rings that pooled plasma and reinjected it into donors after removing the blood products.

But Beijing hadn’t acknowledged the problem yet, and Li oversaw a campaign to squelch reporting about it, harass activists, and isolate affected villages.

When the government finally did go public four years later, Li showed canny political instincts with a rapid course reversal, channeling government assistance to victims and making public shows of compassion.”

As for how the Premier and President are expected to get along…

“Li’s relationship with Xi remains ambiguous, although the two are expected to follow the existing model under which Hu stayed somewhat aloof as head of state while Wen acted as the public face of the administration.

Both are seen as part of a generation of leaders more comfortable with the West than their predecessors, said Ding Xueliang of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

‘Their reference for great power status from Day One was the United States, unlike Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, who looked toward the Soviet Union,’ Ding said.

After Henan, Li’s next posting was in the northeastern rust belt province of Liaoning, where he oversaw a revival that drew foreign investment from BMW and Intel.

In a US State Department cable released by the Wikileaks organization, Li is quoted telling diplomats that Chinese economic growth statistics were ‘man-made,’ and saying he looked instead to electricity demand, rail cargo traffic, and lending as more accurate indicators.

Li and his family have largely steered clear of the webs of corruption surrounding other leading Chinese officials, although questions have been raised over whether his brother’s powerful position at the government tobacco monopoly clashes with Li’s role in making health policy.”

We’ll have more on the CPC as we hear about it. But you can always check out all the latest on China, France, America and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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