Premier Wen Jiabao inherits an economy enjoying strong overall growth, buoyant export sales, sustained tax receipt increases, a declining deﬂationary threat, a booming private sector, and ever-increasing foreign investment. For the ﬁrst time in years, China’s 1,250 listed companies will soon even announce an upturn in overall proﬁtability.
Wen has his predecessor, Zhu Rongji, to thank for much of this. It was Zhu who insisted that China liberalise its trade and investment rules and engineered entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) to lock in his policies. One might think that all Wen has to do is carry on Zhu’s good work. Unfortunately, the new premier has some difﬁcult choices to make, not least about who should own the economy – the state or the private sector. An intense debate over the limits and style of privatisation will deﬁne Wen’s ﬁve-year term.