Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012

Xi Jinping

The past 20 years have been a golden age for China, a time when it built shining cities, lifted millions out of poverty and strutted its stuff as the new century's anointed superpower.

But the China that Xi Jinping, 58, will lead when — if all goes to plan — he becomes China's President in the fall is also a fretful place. In coming years, its economy will probably not grow at the pace that Chinese have come to expect. And the extraordinary fall of Bo Xilai, the Chongqing party secretary, has shattered the carapace of political stability that the Communist Party has been at such pains to polish since 1989.

Can Xi steer his nation to be less defensive abroad and less dependent on a creaking economic model at home, all while maintaining party rule and a confined political life? Some doubt it. Xi is the modern Chinese establishment personified, the son of a colleague of Mao Zedong's and the husband of Peng Liyuan, one of China's best- known singers. But perhaps it is those who know China's structure best who will be able to find the flexibility to cope with the changes that are surely coming.

Elliott is the CEO and president of One