China’s Heir Apparent

In a major surprise out of China, President Hu Jintao suffered a stunning electoral reversal and lost 9 votes out of 2,965 cast by China’s parliament members. Hu will remain in office, but with only a 99.7% mandate, doubts were raised about his effectiveness as a lame-duck president.

On a more serious note, the election of Xi Jinping as Vice-President as heir apparent seems to be the significant news coming out of this election. He replaces a Jiang Zemin ally, definitively signalling the end of the Jiang era. The election caps a meteoric rise for Xi, who first showed up on the international radar last fall when he was elected along with three other members of China’s new generation of national leaders to the Communist Party’s politburo. Here’s his bio from a Communist Party organ Who’s Who, and here’s some coverage of his introduction last fall from the Telegraph and the Independent.

Back to a less serious note, a quick tabulation reveals that Xi’s Scrabble Index marks a return to the mid-twenties after a disappointing high-teens period under Hu Jintao (18). Xi’s 26 points put him just ahead of Yang Shangkun (24), but behind Jiang Zemin’s record-setting pace of 29*. I’ve yet to correlate the Scrabble Index to any substantive policy orientation, but I’m working on it.

*Jiang’s record climbs to 33 if you use the hotly disputed ‘Zhemin’ spelling.

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