Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another Engineer

The FT reports that the next presumptive head of China was also educated as an engineer.

It states:

At 16 he was sent to work in a rural agricultural commune, along with millions of other urban youths, especially those who were considered to have suspect political backgrounds. Arriving in the north-western province of Shaanxi, an area where his father had once commanded a Communist party guerrilla army, he admitted to being intensely lonely. However he survived the experience, even using his burly frame to win wrestling matches with local farmers.

In time Mr Xi managed to win back favour within the party, and was allowed to study engineering at Beijing’s elite Tsinghua University. But unlike many of his fellow “princelings”, the children of the Communist party’s founding elite, Mr Xi turned his back on court life in the capital and requested his first posting in a rural area.

Tsinghua was where Norbert Wiener in the 1930s set up an outpost of MIT teaching random process theory applied to control and communications systems and where the basic principles of cybernetics were born.

China seems to have this continuing predilection to selecting engineers. Is there a correlation between economic performance and the education of the leaders? Perhaps lawyers and economists should take the back seat for a while. Just a thought for the day.