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Crikey Says

Nov 8, 2012

Crikey says: the world leader you should know

Four more years. But a revolution? Guy Rundle reckons. Today, what it means -- for us and them. Here our pollies are busy politicising the public service. There's new jobs data out (they'll be politicised, too). And with a new energy white paper released, should we be talking nuclear power?


Meet the man about to take the helm of the country most important to Australia’s interests.

This is Xi Jinping. China’s Communist Party begins its 18th congress in Beijing today, and the party is expected to select Xi as its leader. That means he becomes Chinese president early next year.

You may not know much about Xi. You’ve seen little of him in the Australian media. You probably can’t name his dog, and don’t know what he thinks about gay marriage or budget deficits.

But this man — and the other leaders who will be selected by the party congress — will affect your life. Arguably more than Barack Obama.

Australian exports to China topped $71 billion last year. That’s seven times as much as we exported to the US. China is our largest export market and our largest trading partner. China has a growth rate of about 8% this year; the US, maybe 2%. If you want to get a handle on the prospects for Australian economic growth, unemployment and inflation, switch from Obama on CNN to Xi on SBS.

There are many reasons why Australians have been largely ignoring this very significant leadership change in China. The Chinese political system is closed, opaque, mysterious (it’s still not certain Xi will take over). But is it also the case that many Australians refuse to be weaned from our Anglo past? Are we afraid of China? Are we racist?

“That’s where we need to go — forward,” Obama told a cheering crowd in his victory speech last night. If Australians want to go forward, perhaps we should focus a little less on the US President and a little more on the future Chinese one.


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