North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Sunday, November 11, 2012

China set to select new leader

In contrast to the sometimes rancorous and very public US election campaign and vote, China this coming week will select a new leader - a once-every-10-year event.

As ABC news notes, "During the week-long 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which takes place every five years, 2,309 delegates from across China will elect the country’s new leadership. Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to be installed as the new party secretary and, hence, China’s leader for the next decade."

The leadership of one fifth the world's population, the National Congress of the Communist Party of China

Presiding over the 18th National Congress is the party's leader and country's president - Hu Jintao. He has been China's leader the past 10 years.

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping - China's next leader

As the Australian Sydney Morning Herald observes: The next leader of one-fifth of the world's people is a Communist Party aristocrat married to a pop star - but his views are a mystery, hidden behind party secrecy and an enigmatic demeanour.

The article goes on, Xi Jinping, 59, has an impeccable political pedigree as the son of a respected figure in the revolution that brought the communists to power in 1949 and previously headed some of China's most economically dynamic and reform-minded areas.

Xi - a portly figure typically seen on state television with a deadpan expression - has shown a bit more colour than his predecessor Hu, a Communist bureaucrat with a wooden image. He created a stir during a 2009 speech in Mexico by scoffing at "foreigners with full bellies and nothing to do but criticise our affairs", an apparent reference to the West. But he has longstanding links with the US, having gone on an agricultural research trip to the country in 1985 and stayed with a family in Muscatine, Iowa, deep in the midwest farming heartland.

There has been speculation that Xi could have a reformist bent, but analysts say he has risen up mainly because his pedigree made him a compromise, status quo choice acceptable to Hu, former president Jiang Zemin and other powerbrokers. Xi has backed non-controversial policies and positions during his rise up the party ranks, said China political analyst Willy Lam. "He's a team player. He played by the rules of the party. He's not a risk-taker. He doesn't want to take risks that might jeopardise his career," he said.

Current Chinese President Hu, and former President Zemin confer as major power brokers

Peng Liyuan

Ms Peng, 49, is a hugely popular folk singer who has been more famous than her husband for most of his career. Hundreds of millions of people have heard her sing during the country's annual Spring Festival pageants on television; she is also a major general in the People's Liberation Army musical troupe.

Peng Liyuan is better known to China's population than her husband, due to her career as a singer.

China's issues are many

It seeks a more assertive role in the South China sea and Western Pacific, upsetting many Asian nations - Japan, Philippines, Vietnam and its rebellious province - Taiwan.

Its economic growth of 8-10% per year the past several years, while breathtaking, is needed to provide a lift in well-being for its many fractious populations. Can it be sustained?

China's one-child policy meant to slow population increase has resulted in an imbalance of men to women, and an unintended threat to a workforce able to support the needs of an aging population.

Can strict political control be maintained with an increasingly free market economy?

And what about Tibet - where Buddhist monks self-immolate themselves in protest to Chinese rule?

Okay, to end this on a lighter note ... 2013 is the Year of the Snake in China.

PS. We might as well at least remember the name Xi Jinping, and how to pronounce it - SHEE chin-PING

And if SHEE is how Westerners will handle Xi, here are puns as needed, courtesy of

Xi’s all that
That’s what Xi said
Murder, Xi wrote
Xi’s way out of my league
He said, Xi said
Xi loves me, Xi loves me not
Xi loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah
Xi’s the one for me

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