Friday, 9 August 2013

The wrong kind of consumption

By Sean Corrigan

Since our last attempt at a textual analysis of where the economic pain threshold lies for China’s rulers, the intervening period has been punctuated by a flurry of meetings, pronouncements, prognostications, and policy precursors.

The net result? That anxieties are certainly rising; that there are some signs of intense political manoeuvring; but that Xi and Li have so far largely stuck to their guns.

Taking the politics first, two items stand out: the news that court proceedings will shortly commence against the disgraced Bo Xilai Рwherein he will face charges mostly relating to corruption and the abuse of power Рand the post-dated report of a meeting with Henry Kissinger at which former President and éminence grise, Jiang Zemin, fully endorsed the policies of his successor-but-one.

The timing of the first seems nicely calculated to neutralize critics on the left of the party and to preclude any haggling over Bo’s fate from taking place at the upcoming Beidaihe party summit, thus leaving the agenda free to thrash out the nitty-gritty of economic policy ahead of the crucial autumn Plenum.

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