Remember this name: Xi Jinping. You may not think you need to know who the vice president of China is, but he is likely to be China’s next premier and is one of the people who will be making your world. Today’s Washington Post has a gushing profile of him here.The Post is happy to tell us that people call him more open and accepting than other Communist Party leaders. When he was governor of Zhejiang, “the atmosphere…was the most open ever”. The period of his leadership
saw the rapid growth of nongovernmental groups, including industry associations and unions, which bargained over wages and kept labor disputes to a minimum. Underground, unsanctioned churches operated relatively peacefully. Also…in local elections in Wenzhou five years ago, many independents not backed by the party won seats without government interference.
Xi’s associates call him “pragmatic, serious, cautious, hard-working, down to earth and low-key”. If he has mistresses and fancy cars and a secret lifestyle of fancy restaurants and luxurious hotels, he keeps it well hidden. He works long hours, holds “lunch and dinner meetings…in the government cafeteria, not opulent restaurants”, and is “seemingly uninterested in the trappings of high office”.He dislikes corruption (“transparency is the best anti-corrosive”, he wrote once), despises officials who display “the haughty manner of feudalism”, and urges China’s leaders to “get close to ordinary people, try their best to do good things for people, put down the haughty manner and set a good example for ordinary people.” At least, that’s what he says for the record.It’s hard to know how much weight to put on all this happy talk. Certainly the social life of the Washington Post‘s person in Beijing won’t be hurt by this lovely floral bouquet. But the piece may just be reporting what people said. Very few people want to go on the record making nasty cracks about the next emperor. At the least we can reasonably infer that the vice premier’s staff wants him presented as an open minded, down to earth, fairly liberal guy. That in itself is good news — for however much it’s worth.