Column

Issues that may most likely worry China’s President

On the article “What keeps Xi Jinping awake at night”
by Chris Buckley and Paul Mozur (New York Times – May 12, 2018)

06 2018

Comments by Enrique Aboitiz Mendieta

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What do these authors think is in Xi Jinping’s Mind? Xi is a man in a seat of power that will last a long time. He does not need to be re-elected over 4 or 6 years. He can think long term. He dreams of the Shin Middle Kingdom and a raison d’etre that considers the fullness of time and generations of unintended consequences.

Companies think in terms of years mostly, some in decades, and others in generations. Empires must think in centennial proportions – we realize that their leaders do not. That helps us understand Italy, which was formed in 1861, just a decade or so before the Aboitiz family and firm enterprise, and maybe 40 after the first Yrastorza arrived on a galleon from Acapulco. That is why the Italians behave like children. China sees 100 years differently, and so maybe their outlook is different. I am not saying that this is right or wrong. I don’t want to think in centennial terms – that would be terrible. I am dying like all of you and have 35 years left to round off to 100 and taking into account the merger of technology and medicine.

This reminds me of TINA – There Is No Alternative – of decades ago.

What would put China where it dreams to be?

  1. Winning The Technology Race
  2. Taming The Internet
  3. Racing For A Military Edge
  4. Hidden Financial Risks
  5. Unrest Over Pollution

Now, I ask myself: what has changed since the beginning of time? What is different from Xi’s concerns and that of Aboitiz – the family and firm – today, in the past, and in the future? In times when so many changes in absolute terms, very little really changes in relative terms.

1. The winner has always been the unit with the edge on the future – Man catapulted over the rest by accidentally finding fire that allowed him to cook meat and grow a larger brain, hence tools, sedentary society, industrialization and into information. Within man again, the winners used technology to leverage that edge.

Can an economy win that technological edge without complete freedom? China is saying it can because it produces an Alibaba. Alibaba is a great copier cum improver?

2. The winner has always been the one that controlled the conversation of gossip and, hence, public opinion – yesterday in the cafe and today on social media. You do it through ideas or some force of force. Control is a form of force. The right idea has been about the when. As in much of everything, timing supersedes.

Can an economy win without the freedom to make fun of its leader in front of his face, without fear of any kind?

3. That Military Edge that the male penis has always raced for may be too costly for any country that will need to take care of the elderly. I suspect that none will be able to afford an offensive military in the future. In a society of accelerated societal needs, a conundrum is to be faced.

Does military edge matter when there is no commercial interest to go to war? Which war did not have, at its deepest level, a commercial desire as its funder?

4. The unknown unexpected has to be a waste of time to try to figure out. One will never figure it out. However, the journey must be taken to appreciate what one learns along the way.

The solution – is it not cash flow and a strong balance sheet? Probably not the solution but definitely the winning strategy. Man has not yet found a way to prevent stupidity.

5. Unrest is the concern. Today it is about pollution, yesterday about inequality and tomorrow about immigration, yet all happening at the same time. Technology accelerates the negativity and removes light from the continuous improvements in the areas that concern us. We talk of inequality and forget about hundreds of thousands leaving poverty every day. Government regulation and media are the new left. The left belongs in universities where young people should face the reality of the redistribution of wealth as they face education which is about the creation of wealth – education the equalizer.

Can one win without receiving the full dividend of unrest? THE TRUTH!

Now, will Xi talk about what may be a larger concern – is China too big to govern? In times when change is accelerating and the military needs decelerating, what benefits does size bring that overcome the agility of less size? That glue of society, which made America, Trust, is diluted with size when size cannot satisfy? Not satisfying your main customer – your public – must have some consequence? Maybe Xi should worry about not satisfying his increasingly informed people.

Your reactions are needed by our readers.