Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, July 06, 2018

Age and experience

David Mamet's sarcastic epigram is "Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance." Maybe the Communist Party in China has figured a way around that idea.

It's a cliché (or valid generalization) that political leadership in China is older than the leadership in other countries. But I have always been amazed by the age of the leaders of the Communist Youth League. Now Choi Chi-yuk, writing in the South China Morning Post reports that a 49-year-old has been named the leader of the Communist Youth League. Not only that, but the headline suggests this new leader could be the beginning of a generational shift. I'm spending time adjusting my frame of reference.

Is the promotion of this Chinese aerospace technocrat the start of a communist youthquake? (Xi Jinping has shifted focus to training and promoting top young talent.)
He Junke
A 49-year-old aerospace technocrat has been named to lead the 81 million-plus members of China’s Communist Youth League, highlighting what could be the start of a bigger push for younger officials in the administration.

The league has long been regarded as a cradle of China’s leadership, with former president Hu Jintao and Premier Li Keqiang among those to have served in the organisation’s top job before going on to higher office…

He Junke graduated from the space technology department at the National University of Defence Technology in Changsha, Hunan province, in 1991 and spent 14 years in the aerospace industry…

The league has appeared to lose some of its sway since 2012 when Xi came to power, with the president giving greater weight to governing experience and political loyalty in promotions rather than the opinions of colleagues, examinations, economic growth and age.

As a result, the average age for ministerial officials has risen.

But youth could be making a comeback with He’s appointment and Xi’s focus on the need for young talent…

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