Just a month ago we warned that all was not well in the political elites of China. Critically, expectations of some coordinated and massive stimulus to save the world were far overblown since "the last thing Hu & Co. would want in their final months in office would be to unleash another oligarch-enriching orgy of speculation". Sure enough, as Reuters just reported, 'China's ruling Communist Party is seriously considering a delay in its upcoming five-yearly congress by a few months amid internal debate over the size and makeup of its top decision-making body as the party struggles to finalize a once-in-a-decade leadership change.' The delay will likely further unnerve global financial markets whose perception of Chinese politics as a well-oiled machine has already been shaken this year by the extraordinary downfall of an ambitious senior leader, Bo Xilai, in a murder scandal.
China's ruling Communist Party is seriously considering a delay in its upcoming five-yearly congress by a few months amid internal debate over the size and makeup of its top decision-making body, sources said, as the party struggles to finalize a once-in-a-decade leadership change.
The two most senior posts, of president and premier, are not considered in much doubt. But any delay in the congress, no matter the official reason, would likely fuel speculation of infighting over the remaining seats in the nine-member politburo standing committee which calls the shots in China.
One long-time and well-connected U.S.-based investor in China said there were two ways to interpret a congress delay.
"One is to say that the leadership is in turmoil and that China is fighting a serious challenge to reform. That will be quite upsetting to the markets, as it may be seen as a challenge from the like-minded allies of Bo Xilai," he said.
"The second interpretation is that China is trying to cope with the challenges posed by the shift in the global economic order and does not want to move rashly. That is not positive for markets, either," said the investor, who declined to be named.
As Sean Corrigan recently noted (and now seems extremely prescient):
Even if we dismiss the wilder rumours swirling about the offshore websites and the fringes of the blogosphere, it is painfully clear that something very unusual and potentially disruptive is afoot. Given our overdependence on the myth, as much as on the reality, of a China rising inexorably and uninterruptedly to a resource-hungry world primacy over the next decade or two, the interplay of factional political infighting with potential economic meltdown could be the defining influence on the world’s affairs in general, much less on the enthusiasms of those active in its financial market playground, in the coming months.