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The Conscience of China's Fourth Generation: Premier Wen Jiabao

Recorded on December 2, 2003

China's new Premier, Wen Jiabao, visits Washington in December for broad ranging talks on trade, economics, finance, and, no doubt, bilateral relations. His American interlocutors will be dealing with an urbane, intellectual, "reformist" who has been at the center of power in Beijing for nearly 15 years. He has quietly built up a base of goodwill among Beijing's party and government bureaucracy over a decade and a half of competent management in the CCP Politburo Secretariat and is viewed by China's intelligentsia and technocracy as a soul mate to the new President Hu Jintao.

Wen's ties with the bureaucracy are bolstered by a reputation for scholarly and serious analysis of issues, proven leadership in crises and genuine consideration of all sides of a policy debate. His policy views seem genuinely motivated by a drive to help China's 800 million rural citizens prosper from China's economic reforms or, at least, to ease their myriad of burdens. But in the end, will Premier Wen be likely to achieve his goal of a prosperous rural community in China? Perhaps,but probably at the expense of foreign businessmen, importers and financial institutions -- and that, in turn, may alienate China's urban population. Who is Premier Wen Jiabao and how did a nice guy like him rise to the pinnacle of power in the cutthroat communist regime that runs China? Good questions all and the answers may provide an important insight into where China's politics are headed in the future.