I don’t care for this Chinese tendency to change leadership every few years. Makes it so hard to get a good, personality-driven hate on; just when you can finally remember who Hu Jintao is, they bring in some new guy. And all of these guys are pretty much boring career technocrats; don’t the Chinese understand how difficult it is for the Weekly Standard to fear monger against leaders with no noticeable weird personality characteristics? In my day, authoritarian countries had leaders that stayed in office until they died or were purged. That’s the way it was, and we liked it!
Today, China announced that Xi Jinping has been named the vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, an important sign that he’s successfully navigated this gauntlet and is destined to take over in Beijing once Hu Jintao retires in 2012. He’ll have two years to learn the ropes as a civilian overseer of the world’s second most powerful military, essential training for any Chinese leader.
On a slightly more serious note, it is impressive that the CCP has managed to develop a system of orderly, regular transition in an authoritarian context. Such arrangements are not unheard of, but they are relatively rare.