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Changes ahead for China

Professor Peter Williamson predicts some of the challenges facing China’s new leadership

Increased public participation and a new leadership prepared to listen to the voice of the people are among changes forecast for China by Professor Peter Williamson, Honorary Professor of International Management at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Based on 30 years’ experience of working in China with multinationals and latterly Chinese companies venturing overseas, he expects to see a gradual transition to increased participation.

“I wouldn’t call it democracy because I don’t know what it’s going to look like but I think you’ll see more factions within China’s Communist Party. Some of these have come to the fore in recent months with the iussues around Bo Xilai.

“I don’t think a multiparty state will emerge any time soon but there will be new ways of the voice of the public being taken into account in policy and new ways of actual engagement with the people.”

In an interview for Cambridge Judge Business School’s website, Professor Williamson doubts there will be a move towards a Westminster-style democracy, but believes China will have a participation with Chinese characteristics.

China, he adds, will have its own system and the speed of change will be influenced by the Communist Party, which has only 83 million members from a population of 1.35 billion.

“[It will be] a gradual process that will take into account the path and the history of China in terms of determining where it is going, but I’d be a brave man to predict what it would look like.”