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How Wen Jiabao undermined the Party's legitimacy

HONG KONG — At a time of great vulnerability for the Chinese government, Wen’s extensive efforts to prop up his reputation may weaken the Communist Party overall. Wen's self-defense not only sets a standard for transparency that other officials may find impossible to meet, it also keeps the public's focus on the Communist Party's gravest weakness: corruption.

The disturbing truth about China's economy

HONG KONG — With all the campaign talk casting China as the bane of the US recovery, you could easily forget that the world’s second-largest economy is also on shaky legs. This year, analysts’ conventional wisdom on China has shifted away from predictions of sunny days of double-digit growth in perpetuity, to talk of hard landings and tough transitions.

If Xi Jinping is OK, let him show his face

Analysis: It would seem easy enough for the Chinese VP to show his face and prove the rumor mill wrong. Why doesn't he?
Xi jinping 2012 09 11Enlarge
China's Vice President Xi Jinping. (Jason Lee/AFP/Getty Images)

If Xi Jinping is alive and well, he has yet to squash rumors otherwise.

All it would take is showing his face, but that is exactly what he hasn't done since Sept. 1. 

While that may not in and of itself be concerning, the fact that the presumptive Chinese president canceled at least four meetings with prominent foreign dignitaries (including Hillary Clinton) in that time, is definitely noteworthy.

The rumor mill is churning — ranging from a run-of-the-mill back ache after swimming, to an injury suffered from an assassination attempt.

The Chinese government hasn't quelled speculation. If anything, they've done otherwise, dodging questions and going full force censoring his name online. 

GlobalPost infographic: Xi Jinping has gone MIA   

In response to questions about whether Xi had been injured, Hong Lei, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, said Tuesday that he had no information on the matter.

When a foreign journalist pushed further, asking whether there was any instability in the Chinese government, Lei gave a most curious answer: "I hope you will raise serious questions."

As the Economist notes, it would appear that a serious question had indeed already been asked.

So, the question now is, why does a government that explicitly prioritizes stability above all else, not do so in this case? Assuming Xi is more or less fine, and that's all it would take to put the matter rather quickly to rest. 

GlobalPost reached out to Elizabeth Economy, Council on Foreign Relations director of Asia studies, who said that the "unwillingness of the Chinese government to provide any explanation for Xi’s whereabouts speaks to at least two challenges the country’s political system has thus far failed to address."

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What shoddily made bridges say about China

HONG KONG — Americans may see a lot to envy in China’s gleaming new infrastructure, but Chinese are growing angry that so much of it seems to have been shoddily made. A string of recent bridge and building collapses in China has generated fierce debate about the use of hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure investment in the government’s response to the financial crisis.

China's bridges and dams crumble under corruption

TAIPEI — State-run Xinhua reports that 16 bodies have been recovered following a June 28 mudslide that ripped through the construction site of the massive Baihetan Dam. According to the Beijing-based news agency, rescue teams are still searching for 24 missing workers and their relatives near the site in southwest Sichuan province.

Is it time for China to abandon the one-child policy?

HONG KONG — It's one of China's most famous, and controversial, laws. Enacted in the 1980s, the “one-child policy” has suppressed population growth by up to 400 million, by sharply restricting the right of parents to grow their families. In rare public dissent, two separate groups of prominent scholars have published letters in China urging the government to abolish the rule. The rationale: its devastating long-term effect on the economy.

China: Investments that stimulated fast economic growth may be problematic later

HONG KONG — It’s getting hard even for the bulls to pretend something isn’t off about China’s breakneck growth story.
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