China: what should Xi Jinping do?

China's president-in-waiting has 10 years to take his country forward. What single thing would you do to achieve that? Five experts give their view – and you can share your own suggestions in the comments section below

Zhang Ming, political science professor, Renmin University, Beijing

To implement political reform, the government needs certain conditions. Right now China's economic situation isn't very good. To fix this, the best method for China would be to open up its state-owned enterprises (SOEs), to break them down into private enterprises.
If they do this then there will be a positive turn in the economy, and then they might have enough capital for actual political reform.
If there's no reform, the consequences will be severe. Economic, political and social crises will all occur simultaneously and this will throw Chinese society into chaos.

Wen Yunchao, Hong Kong-based blogger known as Bei Feng

Wen Yunchao 18th Party Congress policy priority debate
Wen Yunchao Photograph: Wen Yunchao

The biggest problem isn't political reform, it's the economy. China's economic situation right now is terrible. Just look at southern China – the economy there is really bad there.
They should break the monopolies of SOEs. They should also give the public a space on the internet for opinion polls. People are very unsatisfied with things, and if there are no major changes in the next few years, then public opinion, social protests, and political protests will all move beyond the government's control.

Li Bo, head of Friends of Nature, an environmental NGO in China

Li Bo 18th Party Congress policy priority debate
Li Bo Photograph: Li Bo

The environmental assessment of development projects should be much more open. The possible existence of risk for any project – technological and economic, or social and political – should be fully discussed before the project is implemented.
Right now, according to the law, there is a process for environmental impact assessment. But the people who are in charge of executing these are only responsible to their seniors, not to the people under them. So these processes aren't very open, and their discussions aren't transparent.
Because of this many projects are approved, and then their problems are only discovered afterwards. Like the recent PX incident – there's a lot of fear and rage. These things can really tear a society apart.

Yan Anthea Zhang, strategic management professor, China Europe International Business School, Shanghai

Anthea Zhang 18th Party Congress policy priority debate
Yan Anthea Zhang Photograph: Tommy LaVergne

The Chinese government has been encouraging indigenous innovation within the past five to 10 years – if we look at the number of patent applications, the number has gone up very quickly. But there are questions about patent quality. In China there are so many R&D projects, but too much funding has been spent on fast, easy innovation projects instead of big, long-term, risky projects with great potential.
Based on my research, filing a high number of patents can help a company get R&D funding from the government, even if number of patents has no effect on post-intellectural property office performance. So there's a significant waste of capital, and the basic ability of Chinese companies might be overestimated.

Bo Zhiyue, senior research fellow, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore

Bo Zhiyue 18th Party Congress policy priority debate
Bo Zhiyue Photograph: Bo Zhiyue

I think the first thing would be to do something about corruption in the Chinese Communist party, because it's so rampant. If they don't do anything about this, they will lose credibility very quickly. There are huge vested interests behind this corruption, and a lot of government officials and party leaders are a part of these vested interests. So they themselves are liable.
If a politburo standing committee member such as Wen Jiabao is allegedly corrupt, then nobody else is immune from this problem. If committee members are also suspected of corruption – and if they don't do anything about it – there's going to be a deep crisis. Eventually the credibility deficit will become so huge that it could mean the collapse of the CCP as the ruling party.

What should be the main priority for Xi Jinping? Share your suggestions below.

Jon Kaiman

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Xi Jinping: the 'big personality' taking charge in China
The man anointed as China's new leader is a very different figure from his predecessor, Hu Jintao

Tania Branigan in Beijing

15, Nov, 2012 @9:21 AM

Article image
Xi Jinping takes reins of Communist party and Chinese military
'Princeling' gives confident performance as he introduces conservative team to media

Tania Branigan in Beijing

15, Nov, 2012 @7:52 AM

China prepares for power handover but reverberations will be felt worldwide

The world's second-biggest economy will see power shift to Xi Jinping, but its population has no real role in choosing a leader

Tania Branigan in Beijing

01, Nov, 2012 @4:50 PM

Article image
China party congress: old guard finds it hard to let go

Re-emergence of former party leaders illustrates extent to which power in China is still about personalities and patronage

Tania Branigan in Beijing

14, Nov, 2012 @8:30 AM

Article image
China looks to usher in the new generation of Communist leaders

America is not the only global superpower picking a new leader this week

Tania Branigan in Beijing

05, Nov, 2012 @1:50 PM

Article image
China faces pressure for reform as new leadership is chosen

With social problems spreading, a younger generation may be ready to question Communist party policy

Tania Branigan, Beijing

04, Nov, 2012 @12:06 AM

Article image
China unveils new faces but old policies as Xi takes over party and military
Pledge to tackle official corruption from new chief but ex-leader Jiang Zemin's influence brings in conservative politburo

Tania Branigan in Beijing

15, Nov, 2012 @8:19 PM

China's new leadership – in pictures

Here are all seven members constituting China's most powerful group of politicians

15, Nov, 2012 @5:14 AM

Article image
China's new leaders paint a picture of totalitarian banality | Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones: Framing the debate: This photograph of a triumphant party elite is an overt display of democracy's opposite without any hint of self-reproach

Jonathan Jones

16, Nov, 2012 @2:30 PM

Article image
Chinese leadership: speculation begins on who will take power in 2022

Thoughts turn to who might lead the country when new president Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang retire

Jonathan Kaiman in Beijing

15, Nov, 2012 @7:47 PM