The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewJames Petras Archive
China and the US: Comparing Leadership Selection
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

The US selection of leaders has virtually nothing to do with democratic processes and outcomes. It is useful to contrast this with the process in China. In most instances, China’s selection of leaders is far more meritocratic, successful and performance-based. In both the US and China, the process lacks transparency.

US Economic, Political and Cultural Leadership

The selection of US economic, political and cultural leaders is based on several undemocratic procedures.

  1. Inheritance via family ties
  2. Personal access to credit and financing
  3. Political patronage
  4. Lobby and elite sale and purchase of office and favors
  5. Media links
  6. Political repression and manipulation of electoral procedures
  7. Incumbency and use of state resources
  8. Ethno-religious nepotism
  9. Internal party hierarchy
  10. Closed party decisions (opacity)
  11. Ability to keep secrets

Leaders, whether appointed, self-appointed and selected through money, media, elite networks, turn the electoral process into virtual afterthoughts in the US system. US economic leaders have increased the flow from productive profits and investments upward to the financial sector and/or outwardly overseas to tax havens.

US political leaders have increased military expenditures and wars, diverting public funds from domestic social services and welfare, diminishing domestic economic growth and markets for investment and trade.

US cultural leaders have been rewarded for defending, promoting and embellishing imperial conquests and denigrating independent nations and leaders. They have also been rewarded for promoting the most degrading and frivolous consumerism, undermining social and community cohesion.

The lack of transparency in the US selection process of leaders in major investment banks, political parties, legislative and executive offices and academia is growing at an alarming rate and with significant negative consequences: US leaders do not have to pass rigorous exams nor do they face interviews with peers with competence in their fields of work.

US business leaders are not judged by their economic and political performance. Responsibility for disastrous wars, corrupt bank bailouts, financial crises and skyrocketing health care costs do not disqualify a candidate for leadership positions.

Documented performance criteria are not the basis for selecting Congressional and Presidential leaders. The decisive factors influencing political selection are the capacity to promote elite interests, pursue imperial wars to gratify the ambitions and greed of civilian militarists and mask widespread corruption to grease the wheels of speculation.

China: Consultation, Meritocracy and Performance

Chinese leaders are selected on the basis of multi-level consultation, meritocracy and performance in office.

China’s recent Party Congress highlighted three areas of vital concern: reducing inequalities, addressing environmental degradation and health care.

In contrast, last year’s US Congressional elections focused on its pledge to reduce corporate taxes for the super-rich despite the increasing social and economic inequality, removal of state and federal regulation protecting the population and environment from corporate polluters, and reducing public funding for access to competent health care, undermining citizen well-being and exacerbating the rise in premature deaths and decreased life expectancy for the poor and working class.

The American political elite is full of ‘climate change’ deniers and promoters of the worst kinds of pollution.

The US Congress spent an enormous amount of time and energy pursuing partisan conspiracies while refusing to address the raging epidemic of prescription narcotic addiction, which has killed over 600,000 Americans in 15 years.

President Xi Jinping demanded that Chinese leaders direct their efforts to correct the ‘unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever growing needs for a better life’. President Xi emphasized the goal of ‘greening the economy’, mentioning it 15 times in his address to the Party Congress- compared to only once in the previous Party meeting (FT 11/1/17, p 11).

Chinese public and private investors have responded to health and environmental priorities set by President Xi – stock indexes spiraled in those sectors (FT 11/11/17, p. 11).

At the top level, leadership engages in consultations and debates among competing elites, discussing past and present outcomes in developing current and future policies.

At the middle levels, ultra-competitive public service examinations are determinant in the selection and appointment of Chinese officials.

At the top and middle levels of leadership job performance is one of the leading factors determining selection. The four decades of spectacular economic growth that has lifted 500 million Chinese people out of poverty is a reflection of the effective system for selection and promotion of leaders.

Maintaining peace and friendship with other countries for over forty years — except for a brief border conflict with Vietnam in 1979– has been a major factor influencing leadership selection. In contrast, despite multiple disastrous and brutal wars, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama were re-elected to office in a two-party ‘duopoly’ system universally regarded as ‘rigged’. The effect of these wars on the deterioration of US domestic economy is not reflected in the candidate selection or in the outcome of the presidential or congressional elections.

China has selected leaders who have demonstrated ability and seriousness in investigating and punishing over one million corrupt public officials and plutocrats. Anti-corruption crime-fighters have been promoted as ‘clean and hardworking’ leaders.

In contrast, the US Administration has repeatedly appointed Wall Street criminals to senior positions in Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the IMF with disastrous results for the citizenry, with no capacity for analyses or correction.

One of the most selective and prestigious Party mechanisms is found in the Organization Department (OD) of the Chinese Communist Party (FT 10/30/17, p. 9). The OD meets privately and reviews selections for leadership on the basis of a ‘complex combination of nominations, written and oral exams and investigations, and a majority vote among ministers. Leaders, thus selected, assume collective responsibility – and they do not position themselves by ‘leaking decisions’ (FT ibid).


In both the US and China the selection of leaders are not based on elections or consultations with the citizens. However, there are vast differences in the process and procedures of leader selection resulting in vast differences in the outcomes.

China is largely a meritocracy, with vestiges of family nepotism, especially with reference to some business-state appointments.


Performance counts a lot, and most citizens credit the leadership of the Chinese Party for China’s long-term, large-scale socio-economic success. In contrast, the vast majority of US citizens are cynical and dissatisfied with top economic appointments because of their documented past and present socio-economic failures. The citizens direct their greatest dismay at the top financial leaders (whom they view as corrupt oligarchs) for plunging our country into repeated crises, perpetual wars, growing inequalities and deep, widespread poverty. The loss of stable, well-paying jobs and the deterioration of community and family cohesion has outraged the citizens because these are in stark contrast with pervasive, deep-seated corruption in high places and almost total judicial impunity for high officials, politicians and oligarchs alike.

China’s on-going prosecution of corrupt leaders has no counterpart in the US.

Business-politician bribes are legalized in the US when they are termed ‘campaign financing’ or ‘consultant fees’. One has only to consider the half-million dollar lecture fees paid to the Clintons by grateful Wall Street financiers for their 30 minute recitations of platitudes and influence peddling.

In the field of foreign policy, China’s leaders defend their national interest. US leaders shamelessly kowtow to Israeli lobbyists, promoting Tel Aviv’s interests.

Chinese leaders marginalize critics in the name of harmony, stability, peace and growth.

US leaders marginalize, imprison and brutalize Afro-Americans, immigrants, environmentalists and anti-war activists, as well as Wall Street and government whistle blowers, in the name of free markets and nebulous liberal democratic ‘values’.

China, with all of its drawbacks in terms of democratic procedures and rights, is moving toward a less corrupt, less bellicose and more accountable dynamic society with carefully vetted and developed leadership.

The US is moving toward a more corrupt, crime ridden and despotic (‘police state’) society with unaccountable leaders, warmongers and criminal at the helm.

The gap between promise and performance is widening in the US, while it narrows in China.

China’s rigorous, meritocratic selection process has demonstrated greater capacity to respond to new challenges and majority needs than the dysfunctional and corrupt US electoral charade, which cannot even address the addiction crisis brought on by unregulated over-prescription of opiates, let alone respond to the environmental crises of climate change and mega-storms ravaging US communities.

• Category: Foreign Policy, Ideology • Tags: China, China/America, Corruption 
The China/America Series
Hide 10 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. OK, I’ll admit China has made progress on air pollution. They had to, it was so bad it was killing people.
    They’re also smart enough to SAY they believe in climate change. You can bet they won’t put a lot of effort into reducing their carbon footprint if it decreases their economic competitiveness in the slightest.

    • Replies: @Astuteobservor II
  2. FKA Max says: • Website

    You are probably aware of this article already, Mr. Petras, but since it is so fitting for this article I would like to share it with the Unz Review readership:

    Selection bias in politics
    There was a lawyer, an engineer and a politician…
    Why do professional paths to the top vary so much?
    Apr 16th 2009

    Different countries—because of their history, or cultural preferences, or stage of development—seem to like particular qualities, and these qualities are provided disproportionately by only a few professions. Lawyers and business executives are common; economists, academics and doctors do surprisingly well (see chart 1).

    Countries often have marked peculiarities. Egypt likes academics; South Korea, civil servants; Brazil, doctors (see chart 2). Some emerging-market countries are bedevilled by large numbers of criminals, even if this doesn’t usually show up in their “Who’s Who” records.
    In China, the influence of engineers is partly explained by history and ideology. In a country where education was buffeted by the tempests of Maoism, engineering was a safer field of study than most. In fact, communist regimes of all stripes have long had a weakness for grandiose engineering projects. The Soviet Union, which also produced plenty of engineer-politicians (including Boris Yeltsin), wanted to reverse the northward flow of some great Russian rivers, for example.

    Chart 1


    Chart 2


    These are the results of a British survey of the most and least psychopathic professions/professionals; CEOs and lawyers take the top spots for most psychopathic professions/professionals. No wonder the politics and politicians in the U.S. are so corrupt, around 20% are business people and a staggering 50% are lawyers:


    • Replies: @FKA Max
  3. Who is the creator of the art piece in this article?

  4. Toss out all the Jews and blacks in the US gov, and the US government will be functioning again.

    As for China, judging by the number of corrupt CPC officials clamoring for our EB5 visa, I highly doubt their system is working as well as claimed.

  5. FKA Max says: • Website
    @FKA Max

    Nursing Is Seen As The Most Ethical Profession in America; Congress Members, Least


    A cool diagram of the 113th Congress

    The 113th Congress is in session. But, who are they?

    Lawyers, mostly. How do we know? A terrific chart from Businessweek that breaks down all of the professions of the new Congress. There are 128 lawyers in the House and another 45 in the Senate.

    Membership of the 115th Congress: A Profile

    There Is an Alternative to Lawyers Running the Country

    Many people seem to be dissatisfied with the plight of American politics and our nation’s future. Perhaps if we really want to improve our country, we should start by electing leaders who design and build our homes, who teach science and history to our children, who diagnose and cure our diseases, who plant and grow our foods, and who create new technologies and innovations that improve our lives. We can change America by insisting new types of people lead our government.

    • Replies: @FKA Max
  6. @Fidelios Automata

    Chinese public and private investors have responded to health and environmental priorities set by President Xi – stock indexes spiraled in those sectors (FT 11/11/17, p. 11).

    that entirely depends on if the “spiraled” = negative or positive.

  7. FKA Max says: • Website
    @FKA Max

    This is another amazing figure. Close to 8% (!) of the people living and working in the District of Columbia are lawyers, when lawyers only make up about ~0.40% of the U.S. population:

    If you’re wondering where the lawyers live, a quick google search turned up this post which shows attorneys by state. Needless to say, the share of attorneys as a percentage of the population is greater in the District of Columbia than any of the states, by far.



    What Percentage of Americans are Attorneys?


    In a prior comment I attributed most of the increase in income/wealth inequality in the United States to the intensification of Financialization […] It would be, however, interesting to see how China — if its leadership kept the current elites’ professional/educational background composition (a plurality of engineers) — would fare in terms of levels of corruption and income/wealth inequality, if it were a democracy.

    In my opinion, lawyers are the main “technicians/managers” and the most skillful “optimizers” of Financialization:

    Our Economy is Optimized for Financialization

    Labor’s share of the national income is in freefall as a direct result of the optimization of financialization. The money flows to those with the capital, credit and expertise to optimize financialized skims. As for selling one’s labor in an economy optimized for capital and the asymmetries of finance–there’s no premium for labor in such an economy, other than technical/managerial skills required by finance to exploit markets.



    • Replies: @FKA Max
  8. FKA Max says: • Website
    @FKA Max


    So about 26% or roughly 1 in 4 non-Hispanic white males in D.C. is a lawyer!, if my calculations are correct.

    I tried to find religious demographics for the U.S. lawyer population, but was not able to. It would be interesting to see how many of them are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, etc.

    This is all I could find:

    And of course, it is a necessary consequence of the great over-representation of Jews in our trade that all other ethnic groups are under-represented. Because a group that is only 2% of the population occupies something like 25% or more of the top law partnerships, that means that white protestants are under-represented by close to 25% as against their share of the population, and white Catholics (such as yours truly) are under-represented by even more. Asians? According to Wikipedia they are now 4.8% of the population, and according to The American Lawyer they are about 6% of big law firm associates and 1.6% of partners. Is this discrimination, reverse discrimination, or just what happens as people seek work that suits them?

  9. Yan Shen says:

    Why are Chinese leaders largely former engineers while American leaders often lawyers or the likes? Can someone uh say HBD?

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  10. @Yan Shen

    Its not that simple. The Soviet system was mostly engineers as well; to a large extent, this is a feature of a technocratic system of centralized control. For example, in 1986, 89% of Politburo members were engineers.

    As China becomes a more legalistic society, we should also expect to see lawyers take on a more prominent role; historically, mandarins were not scientists but bureaucrats. I agree with Petras that the selection method does seem to overall bring out a more competent set of administrators.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All James Petras Comments via RSS
The sources of America’s immigration problems—and a possible solution
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Our Reigning Political Puppets, Dancing to Invisible Strings
Becker update V1.3.2
Talk TV sensationalists and axe-grinding ideologues have fallen for a myth of immigrant lawlessness.