Wenran Jiang: Don’t Expect a Chinese Gorbachev

Roundup: Media's Take

Wenran Jiang is a political science professor at the University of Alberta and director of the Canada-China Energy & Environment Forum.

For those who followed the U.S. presidential elections up to last week, the intense horse race had clear rules to follow on how one candidate can win. When it comes to China’s leadership transition though, the general public had very little clue who China’s new leaders were until the seven men, called the Politburo Standing Committee members, walked onto the stage to meet the press in Beijing Thursday.

But this is already progress in the context of Chinese history: the latest once-in-a-decade leadership transition is only the second time power was peacefully and institutionally transferred in more than 100 years since the Qing dynasty was overthrown in 1911.

Since then, Chinese politics went through civil wars, foreign invasion, the establishment of a new People’s Republic and the Chinese Communist Party’s struggle to transfer itself from a revolutionary party to a governing institution in a series of turbulent events such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution...

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