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Xi’s Back

The presumptive next leader of China, Xi Jinping, has reappeared after a mysterious and unexplained two week’s absence from public view. As the New York Times reports, the Chinese media ran photos of Xi (pronounced ‘she’ as in ‘She who must be obeyed‘) on a visit to the China Agriculture University in Beijing. There has been no explanation of his disappearance; some speculate he was physically ill while others think his troubles were of a political nature, as the Chinese leadership has had a contentious year.

Being able to disappear for two weeks while running for president is something both President Obama and Governor Romney presumably wish they could do. And while ordinary Chinese would like more say in who governs them, a quiet presidential campaign with only one candidate and no commercials is not, many Americans might be willing to admit this September, without its charms.

Whatever Mr. Xi’s recent problems, we are glad to see him back and wish him well. Like most Americans, Via Meadia hopes that China will move toward a more democratic system — for the sake of China’s long term stability and prosperity we think there is no other option — but democracy has the best chance of success when it emerges from a process of gradual reform and change. If Mr. Xi is to start China on that road, he will need excellent physical and political health; we hope he has both, and we hope that he intends to make a good use of them.

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