As many as 100,000 Americans dissatisfied with Barack Obama winning the US presidential election have been flooding the White House website declaring their intention to secede, citing the declaration of the founding fathers who in 1776 allowed “one people to dissolve the political bands that have connected them with one another” when it becomes “necessary.”
But it was China — not pro-Mitt Romney Texas, the 15th largest economy in the world, that submitted 25,000 petitions for secession, triggering off a mandated reply from the White House, said the BBC — that has dominated the mind's eye this week, with its once-in-a-decade leadership transition having taken place.
China has been the world's second largest economy in recent years and owns $1 trillion worth of US Treasury bonds. Its influence is dominant in the Asia-Pacific region, where India is still contemplating how to balance the Middle Kingdom with aces like “soft power” or more traditional gambits like information technology goods and services and pharmaceutical products.
Here are thumb-nail sketches of the new Who's Who of China's politics, both princelings and those who have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps of the Communist party structure :
1. Xi jinping : The new president, Comrade Xi succeeds Hu Jintao as the country's new and powerful head, presiding over an elite, seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. With China’s dramatic economic growth slowing down and the party beset with scandals (such as the sacking of a powerful, provincial party boss Bo Xilai), the 59-year-old Xi will be responsible for leading China into the next decade.
Xi is a low-profile partyman, vice-president for the last five years as he was being groomed to take the top job. He was the party boss of wealthy Zhejiang province from 2002-2007, from where he moved to Shanghai as party chief. He is said to like basketball and war movies. He is married to a Chinese folk singer who is also a major-general in the People's Liberation Army. His daughter studies at Harvard under an assumed name. He is a “princeling,” the son of an earlier comrade who marched alongside Mao and Deng, and a protege of former president Jiang Zemin who remains influential, especially in the Central Military Commission.
2. Li Keqiang : China's new premier, who has taken over from Wen Jiabao, Comrade Li was mentored by outgoing president Hu Jintao. Li will be responsible for tacking rising unemployment, cleaning up China’s filthy cities, enhacing health care and housing. Unlike XI, Li is not a princeling, but the son of a middle-level official from Anhui province. His wife is an English professor and is said to admire the American writer Henry David Thoreau.
3. Liu Yandong : The first woman ever to enter the hallowed portals of the Communist Party of China's sanctum sanctorum (now there are two, the other being Sun Chunlan), Comrade Liu is said to be “hardworking, liberal and charismatic,” according to the “Global Post.” She is said to be speak good English and likes photography. She and her husband, Yang Yuanxin, are both “princelings”, but additionally Liu has taken care to be mentored by Jiang Zemin as well as been a member of Hu Jintao’s Communist Youth League.
4. Hu Chunhua : At 49, Comrade Hu is a member of China's “sixth-generation” younger group of politicians, and now a member of the elite 25-member Politburo, the nation's second-most powerful committee. He is already being tipped to be the boss in 2022, when the next transition takes place.
Hu's climb to the top has been meteoric. He is the current party boss of Inner Mongolia, but spent 23 years getting to know the ropes in Tibet, where he worked under Hu Jintao, forging what would be his key life-changing connection.
Hu is not a princeling, though, raised along with six other siblings in a poor farming community. He won a seat at Peking University where he studied Chinese literature. China-watchers in the US have described him as a “Chinese Abraham Lincoln.”
5. Sun Zhengcai : The party boss of Jilin province and a former agriculture minister, Comrade Sun is the other 49-year-old who has made it to the Party’s elite Politburo, along with Hu Chunhua. A member of the “sixth-generation” of China's political leaders, this group of Chinese leaders are said to have a different “mentality,” having grown up during the pre-Tianmen square years, when China was in the middle of its most open period. Analysts believe they will be outgoing, liberal and willing to make many adjustments with the outside world. Sun has studied for a year in the UK and has been party secretary of Beijing's Shenyi suburb, where several international schools and western-style houses are located.