[Letters] The two contrasting paths of China and Russia

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[Letters] The two contrasting paths of China and Russia

Between September and October of this year, two drastically contrasting events took place in Russia and China. At the United Russia party convention on Sept. 24, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared his presidential ambition for next year’s election in March.

From Oct. 15 to 18, the Sixth Plenum of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China took place to discuss the reform of power structure for the succession of the Hu Jintao leadership. Russia is regressive, while China is progressive.

Although Russia has a multiparty system and free elections, the Soviet Union was directed by the general secretaries of the Communist Party until their deaths. Joseph Stalin ruled for 31 years, while Leonid Brezhnev reigned for 18 years.

China is still a one-party dictatorship by the Communist Party. And yet, Mao Zedong was the only one who ruled until his death. Since then, a five-year term limit has been introduced with the possibility of one re-election, making sure that no leader rules more than 10 years.

Putin served as president from 2000-8, serving two four-year terms. During his presidency, Dmitry Medvedev, the current president, was the prime minister. At the party convention, Medvedev called on the party to endorse Putin for president in 2012, and Putin said it was a great honor to run for president.

During the cold-war era, the Soviet Union was the superpower rival of the United States. The arms race with no economic backing was the key competition, and it was unsustainable. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the reality was unveiled.

In the mid-1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev, then general secretary of the Soviet Union, carried out reform and liberalization. Around the same time, Deng Xiaoping initiated economic reform in China.

As a result, China has become a Group of Two country after two decades, while Russia is not even on the top-10 list in terms of GDP, although it still has a large military force.

Although China kept its one-party dictatorship, it has operated the system practically and stopped corruption. It also used the mechanism of metabolism for the leadership to achieve the system’s stability and economic growth. When Deng stepped down in from the director post of the Central Advisory Commission, a group created 1982 by him for the elder leaders, Deng said the elder leaders’ key mission is selecting and educating successors.

The leadership succession of China - from Deng to Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and then Xi Jinping - is a faithful respect to Deng’s lesson. It is a key power behind China’s rise to a G-2 country, and a key reason why Russia is drifting away from the G-2 status.


Lim Jong-gun, a professor of politics, communication and international studies at Hannam University
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