Xi And I
Philosophically and analytically, Xi and I have astonishingly congruent sensibilities. For us to simultaneously make the analogy from Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities is coincidental, but not surprising. It reinforces the notion that the world is indeed at a critical crossroad, resonating the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution and the social periods straddling the French Revolution in Dickens’ novel.
In his speech, Xi Jingping talked about the current disillusionment with the latest globalisation and technological revolution. He pointed out that globalisation itself is not to be blamed for the problems we face. Those have resulted from wars, and mistakes and byproducts of the way we conducted and managed the outcome of globalisation. The main shortcoming was in the inequitable sharing of the benefits generated, resulting in sharp division between the rich and the poor. Also, there was insufficient attention paid to socio-economic and infrastructural development that would enable the competitively-disadvantaged to reap the benefits of the globalised trend. Instead, they were marginalized by the new factors and modes of economic and social relations.
Xi calls for a new way forward in globalisation. He warns that protectionism and retreat into isolation would be a disaster for all. New technology and connectedness provides unprecedented opportunities to help uplift the lifelihood of the masses. He advocates an approach of economic inclusiveness and cooperative development. He tries to instil confidence to the world, to join China in the building of infrastructure and technological platforms for innovative development that would enable the masses to participate in and gain access to new economic opportunities, instead of being left out.
Xi Has A Track Record
It is a fact, little known to the world, that Xi Jingping as a young administrator in his 30’s had already begun his phenomenally successful track record in turning over the destiny of very poor communities.
This is a picture of a poor peasant village in Fujian Province that the young Xi became the district administrative head of, during the late 1980s. Trekking everyday among such villages within the district with his officials (Xi does not like people to work in the office, he wants them out seeking facts and studying problems first-hand), his team mapped out local conditions and comparative advantages and disadvantages, then sourced nearby private and state-owned enterprises for resources and synergetic factors. He mobilised the public assets accessible, and invested the district’s money and infrastructural capabilities to bring facilities and services to the local neighborhoods. Water and electricity supply, telecommunication, healthcare, childcare, education and elderly services — basic and rudimentary at first — enabled families to free up their ability to perform tasks beyond hand-to-mouth struggle for survival and subsistance. This created a labor-pool for the nearby enterprises, which used it to expand and generate new investments. A family earning “salaries” among them was a new revolution. Soon, there were family micro-businesses. The district government provided co-investment grants and participated as partner in related social and economic growth, and gained financially and invested in further infrastructural development and public assets and services.
In the district, the average peasant income was RMB 186 in 1988. It has grown to RMB 10,716 in 2016, or fifty-seven times in 28 years. When Xi first arrived there, it was a so-called “Five Withouts” rural district (meaning no paved road, no water supply, no electric lighting, no government revenue, no public government office). Now it is a seamless urban district to the city of Ningde in Fujian Province.
Lifting Out Of Poverty — Let The Weak Birds Take Off First
Xi Jingping wrote a short book to capsulize his experience and model from Ningde entitled “Lifting Out Of Poverty”. It is a classic in the use of market economic forces, disciplined micro- and macro-economic analytics to addressing growth issues, combining and marshalling both private and public entities into win-win cycles of development. He invented the slogan “Let The Weak Birds Take Off First” to register his unique strategy. The logic was: if you can enable the weakest link to take off, the economic leverage from that will be automatic and eventually robust. The key is “to take off”, not “fully reliant on a welfare system”.
He And Wang Huning
With his intellect, and he read a lot, Xi does not need a speech-writer. However, he would most likely have a team doing the drafting, after he lays out the points and desired references (plentiful from literature and historical material). That team is most likely headed by a person named Wang Huning.
Who is Wang Huning? He is the head of China’s Central Policy Research Office. Besides reading more than anyone else, Wang is regularly the second-in-rank to Xi Jingping on all his official foreign visits. Low-key and unassuming, he accompanies Xi like a shadow in official meetings.
I nickname him: Organizer of China’s Big Brain.