China's New Government: Hopes, Fears, New Ideas

In an uncertain international economic climate, any political leader would be grateful to inherit a vibrant economy. China’s Wen Jiabao is in such a lucky position. But he will be judged by how well he deals with difficult decisions over state enterprises and land ownership. Future growth depends on it.

The World Today
4 minute READ

Stephen Green

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.

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