Tuesday, February 14, 2012

China and Its Leaders

The NY Times has a brief commentary on technically trained national leaders and it states:

China has even more scientists in key positions in the government. President Hu Jintao was trained as a hydraulic engineer and Premier Wen Jiabao as a geomechanical engineer. In fact, eight out of the nine top government officials in China have scientific backgrounds. There is a scattering of scientist-politicians in high government positions in other countries as well. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has a doctorate in physical chemistry, and, going back a bit, Margaret Thatcher earned a degree in chemistry.

The BBC ( also see BBC) also has an interesting piece on the putative next head of China:

Who is Xi Jinping? It's not an easy question to answer. The man the Communist Party is busy grooming to be China's next leader can be read in so many ways. He is a communist "princeling," the equivalent of royalty in the Party, born into power and privilege but who then lived in a cave. He is a man who has spent his life in the Communist Party but who knows what it is like to be outcast. He has convinced businessmen he is their champion, while overseeing a system where the state controls huge chunks of the economy. He has shown himself to be irritated with foreign criticism of China but has sent his daughter to study at Harvard under a false name to hide her identity. His wife, Peng Liyuan, a singer, has, for most of his career, been far more famous than he has. When he was first announced as China's next leader-in-waiting, he was already vice-president, but people still joked: "Who is Xi Jinping? He is Peng Liyuan's husband."

And yes he is a Chemical Engineer from Tsinghua University. In many ways we have lawyers and Harvard and China has engineers and Tsinghua. What would happen if we had EEs and MIT?

These combinations and contrasts will be interesting to watch especially in light of the chaos currently in Washington.The problem is that they come from two different worlds, and I do not mean China versus the US, I mean engineers and lawyers, two different planets. I doubt that anyone in the Administration could even interpret, mindsets and world views not languages.