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Showing posts from November, 2012

Changing of the Guard 換兵儀式

It’s a once-in-a-decade exercise. Behind closed doors, deals are struck and broken, careers are bought and sold, battles are won and lost. When the white smoke finally rises from the conclave chimney, new kings are crowned and another layer of intervening leadership is added to one of the most opaque political systems in the world.
The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (第十八次黨代表大會) opened on 8 November and concluded less than a week later. Just as pundits had predicted, Xi Jinping (習近平), the rotund Beijing native and scion of a well-known party elder, emerged as the new paramount leader. To the rest of us on the other side of the door, the National Congress is little more than an auditorium full of men (and an occasional woman) in black suits and red ties applauding on cue. Though that’s not far from the truth, exactly what the National Congress does and how it is different from similarly-named bodies like the National People’s Congress or NPC (人民代表大會) continue t…

New Year in November (Reprise) 十一月的新年(重奏)

Four years ago, I wrote an article titled New Year in November about Barack Obama's historic victory. That's what it felt like — a new beginning, a rebirth – even to a blogger half the world away. Four years flew by in the blink of an eye and the president was up for re-election this month. This time I wanted to be there — in America, in the thick of things. I planned my annual home leave in the second week of November and arrived in New York just days after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast. Expecting the vote count to last all night, I stocked up on junk food in my hotel room in Midtown Manhattan. I had my laptop showing the electoral map and a calculator to tally the votes. I toggled back-and-forth between CNN and Fox News on the flat-screen TV while posting the latest election results on Facebook. I was a ready for a showdown.

I’m not an American citizen and so I can’t actually vote. Even if I were, my vote wouldn’t have mattered much because New York is what they ca…