I'm Robert Lawrence Kuhn and here's what I'm observing: Chinese President Xi Jinping's directive to leading officials to prevent and defuse major risks. The reason? No secrets here: To ensure sustained and healthy economic development and social stability. When Xi advised “thinking about worst-case scenarios,' he got my attention.
Here's how we can learn how Xi thinks. Xi was addressing a study session at the Central Party School, attended by hundreds of senior provincial and ministerial officials. What are the risks and why is he warning about them now? Xi described major risks in diverse areas: Politics and ideology, economy, science and technology, society, external environment, and Party building.
Political and ideological risks? Xi called for strengthening public communication and guiding public opinion, stressing internet management; he prioritized ideological and political education among the young. The challenge is political conformity in the internet age.
Economic risk? Xi said China's economy is generally in good shape while facing a host of problems: Supply-side structural reform, real estate values, stock market expectations, financing for small- and medium-sized firms, disposing "zombie enterprises", and stabilizing employment, financial markets, foreign trade, foreign investment and domestic investment. The challenge is what Xi called ‘the profound, complicated and worrisome changes in international and domestic affairs."
Science and technology risks? Xi focused on improving the efficiency of innovation, stressing artificial intelligence, gene editing, medical diagnosis, autopilot, drones and service robots. The challenge is developing non-traditional structures and prioritizing meritocracy over seniority.
Social risks? Xi urged greater efforts in employment, education, social security, medicine and healthcare, food security, workplace safety, public security, the housing market, and cracking down on crime. The challenge is to keep ahead of people's expectations.
Overseas risks? Xi said it was imperative to protect the country's overseas projects and personnel, stressing security for Belt and Road projects. The challenge is that developing countries can be unstable and prone to violence.
Party building risks? Xi warned about the long-term, complex dangers facing the Party — lack of drive, incompetence, disengagement from the people, inaction, and corruption. The challenge is encouraging dynamic action while enforcing the relentless anti-graft campaign.
Overall, Xi exhorted the large group of senior officials to maintain a high degree of vigilance, to be on high alert for any ‘black swan' incidents [unforeseen and unlikely events], and to prevent any ‘grey rhinos' [obvious but ignored threats].”
Summing up, Xi called for “an energetic and tenacious spirit of struggle to guard against and defuse major risks," urging leading officials "to dare to take on responsibilities and struggle."
I keep observing. I'm Robert Lawrence Kuhn.