China's princelings come of age in new leadership

Xi Jinping

The way they rode to power is very similar, but whether they share the same outlook, the same preferences for policies, I think that's not really the case, said Damien Ma, an analyst at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group.

Some analysts are cautiously optimistic that a leadership dominated by Xi and the other princelings might move with surprising boldness.

One Beijing-based political analyst, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding discussions on the leadership, said princelings believe it is their birthright to rule, and act accordingly. Analysts contrast them with leaders from a rival political faction, the Communist Youth League which produced President Hu.

(The princelings) are naturally more confident and bolder than the children of commoners like Hu, whom they see as a mere caretaker, or a hired CEO, the analyst said. The CEO is more prudent. The stakeholders are more anxious than the CEO if the company is not doing well. Princelings are likely to be bolder in pushing for change.

Some members of the political elite believe the party, after a decade of stagnation on political reform, needs to move quickly to improve government transparency, accountability and the rule of law, as well as allow more freedom of expression. They point hopefully to Xi's princeling bloodlines.

His father, Xi Zhongxun, who gave refuge to Mao during the Long March from 1934 to 1936, was a liberal. As party secretary of Guangdong in 1980, the elder Xi convinced Deng Xiaoping to allow him to set up market-oriented special economic zones in the province, the first place to do so in the Communist era. He also opposed the army crackdown on student protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989, and championed the rights of Tibetans and other minority groups.

Others believe Xi junior's public comments and writings, however rare, indicate he and the other princelings are pragmatists.

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