Born Red is a long profile of Xi Jinping, President of China, by Evan Osnos of The New Yorker. Osnos explains the character and policies of China's current leader through his biography. He was privileged son of a revolutionary leader. After the father fell from grace, the son endured a troubled decade. His father was invited back into the fold, and Xi rose through the ranks all the way to the top. Xi is considered the leader of the informal princeling faction of the Chinese Communist Party. He has put a focus on combating corruption, which had gone out of control in the last couple of decades, and stifling dissent. Recent months have seen tumultuous stock markets and a large army parade. Since coming to power, a personality cult has been promoted by the state. Jeffrey Wasserstrom makes a comparison between the Chinese President and the Pope.
The Ghost Children of China Forty-five years ago, China inaugurated an era of population control, amid fears that too many people would bring catastrophe. In 1980, it officially announced a national one-child policy, forcibly limiting the size of families. But there have been, inevitably, second (and, rarely, third and fourth) children: children who go unrecognized by the government, have no official identity – who are left to live outside the institutions of regulated society. Little Jie is one of them. [more inside]
Tens of thousands of protestors have been gathering outside the Hong Kong government headquarters every night since the start of the new school year to protest the introduction of "moral and national education" classes at primary and secondary schools. At the forefront is Scholarism, a student group led by 15-year-old Joshua Wong. [more inside]
Gu Kailai, the wife of senior Chinese party leader Bo Xilai, has been arrested for the murder of an English businessman. Bo, until his sudden fall from power this year, one of the most popular politicians in China, the leading figure of the Chinese New Left and Party Committee Secretary of the megacity of Chongqing, has completed his downfall by being expelled from the politburo and stripped of all party positions. The collapse started in February, when his top lieutenant, Wang Lijun, was suddenly demoted and then fled to the US consulate for a day - supposedly, either attempting to defect or to give incriminating evidence on Bo and Gu to the Americans for safekeeping. [more inside]
"The handover to a new president and premier has generated plenty of speculation in the press, about who the leaders are and what is will all mean, but sometimes it’s useful to go back and fill in the very basics, since China has a unique and in some ways quite confusing political system." A Primer on China's Leadership Transition. [via]
China’s partnership of stability in Xinjiang As news breaks that Wang Lequan has been replaced as Party secretary in Xinjiang (a fall for the long-serving hard man some expected last last year, though only last month Wang was bullish in interviews about major new central investment in the western border region), Tom Cliff has a timely and informative short background piece up at the East Asia Forum that gives some of the context behind the move.