China’s 18th Party Congress may seem like the usual group of garden-variety bureaucrats, but it’s newly diversified in at least one respect: For the first time in ten years, the Politburo Standing Committee isn’t entirely composed of engineers. Many of the current crop of party leaders were educated in the social sciences and humanities, and only President Xi Jinping and Yu Zhengsheng have engineering degrees. From the Straits Times:
Incoming Premier Li Keqiang, who studied law at Peking University, is the first alumnus from that university in the top leadership after Hu Qili left in 1992. The elite institution is regarded as the CCP’s spiritual birthplace. Two CCP co-founders in 1921 were Peking University academics – Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao.Zhang Dejiang, the presumptive next legislative chief, studied economics at the Kim Il Sung University in North Korea, while Zhang Gaoli, widely expected to be appointed executive vice-premier, graduated from Xiamen University, also in economics.Anti-corruption czar Wang Qishan read history at Northwest University in Xian, while Liu Yunshan studied government administration at the Central Party School, the CCP’s top learning institution.
Broadening the knowledge base among Chinese leaders seems sensible. The biggest challenges in China today are no longer primarily related to technology or infrastructure, but rather to rampant corruption, public desire for increased civil liberties, and slowing economic growth. Via Meadia has doubts, however, that the sort of reformers the country needs will be trained at North Korea’s Kim Il Sung University.