The panel included Kerry Brown, Director of Lau China Institute at King's College London, Rana Mitter, Director of the Dickson Poon China Centre at Oxford University, and Kamakshya Trivedi, Chief Emerging Markets Macro Strategist and Senior Economist of Goldman Sachs.

The panel first compared the political style of Xi Jinping to that of his predecessors, arguing that since Xi became Communist party leader, governance and public communication have been highly politicised, to the extent not seen in the Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao eras. This is evidenced by Xi’s multiple leading roles in everything from strategic reforms to economic management, and the focus and propaganda use of his own life story, and even his marital relationship.

The panel also emphasised the difference between Xi and Chairman Mao, arguing that the former currently wields power under restrictions set by the Party organisation and rules. In this sense, the current General Secretary is more “a servant of the Party” rather than “the master beyond the Party”. Moreover, despite the proliferation of modern mass media that allows Chinese citizens to express opinions in public more easily, politics under Xi remains an elite occupation, and he has no intent nor the ability to launch a mass political movement against the Party organisation.

On China’s economic prospects, the panel showed confidence in the country’s ability to avoid a “hard landing” in the short term as the state has sufficient resources and control over the economy. However, the panel also pointed out some of the consequences implied by the structural reforms and liberalisation of China’s economy, and concerns were raised regarding whether the Chinese authorities would tolerate the risks of business defaults and freer transnational capital movements.

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About the Speakers​

Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King's College, London. He led the Europe China Research and Advice Network (ECRAN) funded by the European Union from 2011 to 2014. He is an Associate Fellow on the Asia Programme at Chatham House, London.

Rana Mitter FBA is a British historian who specialises in the history of republican China. He is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the Institute for Chinese Studies at Oxford University, Director of the Dickson Poon China Centre, and a Fellow and Vice-Master of St Cross College, Oxford.

Kamakshya Trivedi is Chief Emerging Markets Macro Strategist and Senior Economist in the Global Markets Research Group at Goldman Sachs. Previously, he worked in Global Macro and Macro Equity Research for six years. Trivedi joined Goldman Sachs in 2007 and was named managing director in 2013. Prior to joining the firm, he worked as an economist at the Bank of England and as a lecturer in economics at the University of Oxford. He earned a first-class honours degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Merton College, Oxford University, in 1998, and a PhD in Economics from Nuffield College, Oxford University, in 2003.

James Miles took up his position as The Economist‘s China Editor in August 2014, having previously worked as Beijing Bureau Chief for 13 years. Before he joined The Economist in 2001 he reported on China for the BBC as Senior Chinese Affairs Analyst, and was the Editor of Strategic Comments and Research Fellow for Asia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.