As China embarks on a period of renewal, the role of Xi Jinping, its new President, is central. Each of the five generations of leaders since the founding of the People’s Republic of China has represented a particular aspect of the Chinese experience. Xi’s is that of the children of those Chinese who traversed the purgatory of the Cultural Revolution. He found his own life disrupted, as he was sent to the countryside for seven years.
Xi is convinced his generation’s hardships gave it the strength to face the challenges of adapting China to the consequences of its success. He has put forward a sweeping reform program designed to move millions to the cities, streamline bureaucracy, reorient the economy away from state-owned enterprises and fight corruption.
In foreign policy he has posed a key question, Can two great, partially competitive countries substitute cooperation for conflict? The answers of both sides will determine the world’s future. Based on my meetings with Xi, his answer will be both thoughtful and forceful.
Kissinger is a former U.S. Secretary of State
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