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Beijing Leaders to Give Economic Growth Top Priority

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If the one thing global market movers agree on is the fact that the European bankers are doing everything they can to get the economy back on its feet, and with the Fed emphasizing its commitment to do more than before to get the economy to grow again, then yes, the three speakers on the China panel at Bloomberg Markets' 50 Summit agree that leaders in Beijing are committed to doing everything in their power to keep growth going.

Bloomberg Markets named the 50 most influential leaders in finance in the October issue of the magazine and organized a conference around them, adding additional market-movers as panelists. They scheduled the event in grand style in Gotham Hall -- a very interesting selection of venue, as it was originally commissioned and opened as headquarters for Greenwich Savings Bank in the 1920's. The bank expired decades ago and the art deco/turn-of-the-century styled architecture, including a gilded ballroom that soars up seven stories, is now owned by Haier Group, the Chinese government's corporate darling and global white goods manufacturer.

The panel was chosen particularly for the executives' China knowledge and prowess, including the moderator, Indira Lakshmanan, Senior Correspondent with Bloomberg News, who has lived and worked in Shanghai and was in China in September covering the visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The speakers were:

- Ex-Blackstone banker Michael F. Holland, Chairman, Holland & Company (who has notably been doing business in China since 1990's).

- International Economist Dambisa Moyo, Author, Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for Us, How the West Was Lost and Dead Aid

- Carl Walter, Author, Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China's Extraordinary Rise; former Managing Director and COO, JP Morgan China; now an Independent Consultant

We are at a tenuous point in China. The people struck a bargain with the Communist Party -- if you can deliver rapid growth, then you can stick around. But this year, between demand slowdowns, exports being maxed out and a much-anticipated conversion of power leadership that has brewed more human drama suggestions and uncertainties beyond fiction writers' imaginative minds, Beijing has got to generate more economic levers to push or else, it will risk higher inflation and even worse, civil unrest. While dancing precariously with these partners, does China have the ability and interest to go forward?

Indeed there was unanimous agreement on the panel and yes, even from the bear-ish Walter (based on hints, he had to be nudged and cajoled before he would agree). Moreover, in addition to counting on national economic support, Chinese state and local authorities have announced their own stimulus measures, too. There is every effort on the part of the current apparatus to get up, dress up, show up and do whatever it takes to keep the country employed.

The title of panel was "China in Transition" and questions included "How will China's incoming leaders maintain economic and political stability?" There is no way to discuss this subject without approaching reform and its proposed benefits and beneficiaries. Alas, I feel this panel was silently succumbing to the tension building up to the 18th Party Congress and was unable to address her medium-term future.*

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* The 18th Party Congress (a gathering of 2,200 delegates from across China to discuss the Party's policies in Beijing) is normally held in the month of October, with its exact date announced in the month of September, but this was not done; hence the anxiety. Finally, on September 28, Beijing announced it would take place on November 8.