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  1. 1

    Nguyễn Trọng Dân

    Kính thưa quí anh chị ban biên tập diễn đàn Việt Thức,

    Bài của Gordon Chang đã bị quí anh chị post thiếu đi một trang. Sau đây là TOÀN BỘ nguyên bài của tác giả.

    Xin kính,

    Người dịch Nguyễn Trọng Dân


    China’s Political Turmoil Worsening, Affecting The Economy

    On the 15th of this month, the premier of China made inspection visits of Tsinghua and Peking Universities in Beijing. Now the talk in the Chinese capital is the “rapid rise in the political status of Li Keqiang,” as one Chinese observer put it. Premier Li, says former official Liang Jing, “may become a strong challenger to Xi Jinping.”

    That is a lot to infer from a couple of stopovers at institutions of higher education, but political watchers in Beijing these days scrutinize Li’s every move.

    Li apparently lost political power soon after starting his term as premier in March 2013. Then, Xi, president of the state and general secretary of the Communist Party, usurped Li’s authority by elevating the role of two of the Party’s “leading groups,” the Central Leading Group for Comprehensive Deepening Reform and the Central Leading Group of Finance and Economic Affairs.

    As chairman of these shadowy bodies, Xi Jinping essentially ran the economy in the last few years, elbowing aside Li. Li, the head of the State Council, would normally be considered holder of the economics portfolio.

    For a while, Li almost disappeared from sight. “I asked a very well informed Chinese friend whether he expected Li to stay on as premier after the 19th Party Congress,” an acquaintance of mine wrote this month. “His quick answer was ‘Does it matter?’ ”

    Actually, it does. The Congress, which will be held late next year if traditional holds, promises to be one of the most important gatherings in the ruling party’s history. Observers are expecting the largest turnover in the Central Committee since the 9th Party Congress of 1969. At the 19th Congress there will be, for instance, the retirement of five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the most important body in the Party. Of course, turnover at the top will cascade down through the organization’s hierarchy.

    Up until the beginning of this year, most analysts had expected Xi Jinping to fill the many open slots with loyalists and thereby finish the job of consolidating his position. After all, he had previously made great progress in pushing others to the sidelines of the political system. His so-called “anti-corruption” campaign had been extraordinarily effective in rooting out opponents and potential adversaries, jailing some and defanging others.

    All Chinese leaders “house clean.” Xi’s housecleaning was far more ferocious and of far greater duration than those of his predecessors. In view of his apparent success with this and other initiatives, virtually every analyst called Xi the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping—and many called him the most powerful since Mao.

    Now, however, there is talk that Xi might not last as leader beyond the 19th Congress.

    Xi has just had a couple of horrible months. March was particularly bad as his many enemies obviously felt strong enough to challenge him in public in extraordinary shows of defiance.

    For instance, the Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, his main instrument in the corruption campaign, in early March posted on its website a not-so-veiled attack on his authoritarianism, an essay titled “A Thousand Yes-Men Cannot Equal One Honest Advisor.” There was, in addition, a mysterious public call made by “loyal Party members” for Xi to resign, which somehow appeared on a semi-official website. The official Xinhua News Agency published an article calling Xi “China’s last leader.”

    As Thomas Vien, in a perceptive piece on the Stratfor site, writes, “Political resistance is now a tangible force in China.”

    At the same time, Xi’s predecessors came out of hiding, making public appearances. Russell Leigh Moses writes that the fact that these figures have surfaced is “a clear signal to their supporters that they remain ready to defend their political legacies against any efforts to undermine them.”

    Nonetheless, Moses does not think all the recent events amount to much. As he writes in the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report, “solitary outbreaks of anger at Xi and his policies do not an organized political opposition make.”

    Xi’s opponents may not be organized, but they are almost everywhere to be found. It now appears that China’s president did not vanquish opponents; he just drove them underground. And they have emerged as his policies have floundered.

    Take the economy. Because Xi insisted that he be “Chairman of Everything,” he became accountable for everything, including the economy. As the economy faltered, he was criticized for its deteriorating performance. And as he was criticized, Li Keqiang began his remarkable comeback. Nobody, it seems, likes “Xiconomics” anymore.

    Xi and Li now appear to be locked in a widening struggle. “During Li’s opening speech at the National People’s Congress, there were more than 40 rounds of applause,” Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong wrote to me last week. “Xi didn’t clap hands even once.” Not clapping when everyone else was doing so is a clear sign that the relations between the top two leaders is, as Lam notes, “extremely chilly.”

    A year ago, virtually everyone praised China leaders as “technocratic,” “pragmatic,” and “skillful.” Then came the botched response in the second week of July to the stock market crash and the still-inexplicable devaluation of the renminbi in the third week of August. Since then, policy responses have seemed, for the most part, ill-considered and perhaps as important, ill-timed.

    China’s economic challenges will become even more difficult as leaders face the consequences of the apparent abandonment of reform for debt-fueled growth. Feuding leaders, fighting for political life, are unlikely to propose and implement sound policy choices.

    The problem for Xi, Vien tells us, is that his remedy for China’s ailing economy—and for all other things—is the imposition of his decisions. Yet that demand for “absolute loyalty is roiling the Party. “If Xi fails to control the development of factional rifts in the Communist Party, the prospects for maintaining a coherent central government could be near impossible,” he writes. And if were to fail to convince others to submit to his rule, “the restoration of effective central government control could take years, if not decades.”

    China does not have decades to solve its economic problems. It has a year, maybe two, at most.

    >>Follow me on Twitter @GordonGChang and on Forbes. And find much more here.

  2. 2

    Viet Thuc

    Xin đa tạ đã nhắc.
    Bài đã sửa và đăng đủ.
    Trân trọng,
    Viet Thức Foundation

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