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Ian Johnson: China's Xi Jinping 'a Cipher'

Ian Johnson: China's Xi Jinping 'a Cipher'

Last week at Asia Society in New York, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ian Johnson appeared alongside Harvard University professor Rod MacFarquhar and Asia Society's Orville Schell for a discussion entitled "How Stable is China?" You can watch some highlights above and the complete program here. A written summary of the event is here.

While discussing China's upcoming leadership change, the topic of conversation naturally turned to Xi Jinping, the presumptive heir to Hu Jintao's role as leader of the country. Johnson, now a Beijing-based correspondent for The New York Review of Books, remarked how little the world knows about Xi.

"I just don't think people know very much," Johnson said. "He has never made any programmatic statement, he's never come out in favor of anything — and that is why he got where he is. He's a cipher."

Schell, Arthur Ross Director of Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations, added, "It is interesting. Even after 10 years in office, Hu Jintao has never really revealed himself."

This post originally appeared on Asia Blog.

June 25, 2012
by Dan Washburn