David Thomas is an expert on doing business in China. With a successful history of forging global business relationships, David helps leaders, entrepreneurs and investors solve the China puzzle. As part of that, he’s launched a daily email newsletter ‘China Bites’ which you can read here on Targeting China.

Most people would agree that an important factor in China’s success over the past 30 years has been the large number of senior and experienced engineers who sit at the top of the political system and have been responsible for leading the planned economic and nation-building initiatives which has propelled China to become the second largest economy in the world. But, according to Bloomberg, “Chinese President Xi Jinping is installing ex-bankers and former executives from state-owned enterprises to key political springboards, suggesting future governments could look very different from the current one dominated by engineers”.

A recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that 10 of the 16 politicians born in the 1970s who now hold “sub-provincial” or “sub-ministerial” posts hail from banking or industrial SOE backgrounds, and said “while an engineer-turned-politician might be happy to approve the type of massive infrastructure projects associated with China’s rapid development, an official with financial experience will hold the purse strings more tightly. For advocates of market reform, this represents grounds for optimism about China’s long-term economic policy trajectory.”

China news-watchers looking for a clue to a potential heir and successor to President Xi will be paying close attention to the names and profiles of the key people who emerge in the next line-up of the party’s all-powerful 25-member Politburo.

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