Tuesday, July 14, 2009

China Update 2009

Today I attended the 2009 China Update at ANU. It's a day of presentations by researchers from Australia, China, and the US on the latest economic situation in China. We received a book edited by Ross Garnaut, Ligang Song, and Wing Thye Woo containing most of the papers presented. However, the best two presentations of the day, in my opinion - the first and last presentations of the day, aren't in the book.

The first one was by Wayne Swan, the Australian Treasurer (Federal Finance Minister). Maybe it wasn't that good, but after sitting through various boring such presentations by other politicians in the past I thought this was the best I'd seen. Most politicians go through endless lists of legislation and spending decisions relevant to the conference topic that they have been involved with and then take no questions. Swan talked at a higher level about the goals of government policy and then took ten minutes of questions which he answered extremely well with none of the usual political evasions.

The final presentation was by Li Cheng of the Brookings Institution. He presented an analysis of the two major factions in the Chinese Communist Party and the role of the "fifth generation". The presentation was entertaining and interesting and filled out my picture of political issues in China. He also expressed the opinion that the CCP will collapse peacefully within 10-15 years as "none of the children of the current leaders are involved in politics".

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