China’s new leader given broad powers

Faces many challenges with little time to waste

continued from page 2

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

View results

China will need a very different economy in the next decade,” said Citigroup Inc. economist Minggao Shen.

The age factor

In foreign policy, the U.S. and other partners are looking for reassurance that China’s policy remains one of peaceful integration into the world community.

Tensions have flared in recent months between China, Japan and the Philippines over contested islets in the East and South China Seas. Mistrust also has grown with the U.S. as it diverts more military and diplomatic resources to Asia in what Chinese leaders see as containment.

Fresh in office, Mr. Xi can ill-afford to bow to foreigners, crossing a nationalistic public and a military that may still be uncertain about his leadership.

“The leaders can’t look like they are being soft on the U.S. or foreign policy because they will lose power in terms of people,” said Robert Lawrence Kuhn, a business consultant and author of the book “How China’s Leaders Think.”

Mr. Kuhn predicts more tough rhetoric than action in the months ahead, but expects Xi’s leadership to develop a more nuanced foreign policy as it consolidates its authority at home.

Of all the knotty long-term challenges, few threaten to derail China’s march to a more prosperous society more than its rapidly aging society.

Baby boomers whose labor manned the factories and construction sites are starting to retire. Meanwhile, fewer Chinese are entering the workforce after a generation of family planning limits and higher incomes led to smaller families.

If left unchecked, the trend will further stress already-pressed social security funds.

Scrapping the rule that limits many families to one child would help in the long run, some say, and is being encouraged.

But the leadership for years has delayed change, in part because it sees smaller families and fewer births as having helped raise incomes overall.

China has wasted some time and opportunities partly because its growth over the last 10 years was so spectacular,” said Wang Feng, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy and a specialist on China’s demographics. “Now it no longer has that luxury.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks