Xiaoming Guo for Waterloo
The Chinese government has a strong competency of execution capability. They lay out a five-year plan and achieve it. The Chinese government is a professional team of governance. They built their team by meritocracy.
China has a long process to select her leader while West has a process of one year to a few months of an election campaign. To be a Chinese leader, he has to be good at grassroots so that he could be put into a junior position, either in government, or in CCP, or in PLA. Then he has to be good so to ascent through the political career ladder steps by steps, from village carder to county carder, to regional carder, to provincial carder, etc. By the time he becomes the state leader, he probably already had experience in both government and CCP or even PLA. He probably already had experience in rural positions as well as urban positions. He has experience at least in three different areas such as agriculture, industry, education, health, etc. It is more like a career path within a large consulting firm or a large financial firm that take at least 15 years to climb into the CEO position.
In the Western system, in contrast, if you are a celebrity and very popular, you can win an election and become a leader. Voters will cast their ballots base on the rhetoric passion the candidate moved them. The Western leader may easily be manipulated by government bureaucracy and lobbyists, and they cannot focus on their job as they have to prepare next campaign half way of their term, and between the sections of the Congress.
Is it easier to manage a country than manage a firm? Why it takes 15 years for a staff to climb to the top management position in a firm while it takes only one year for a celebrity to become a president in the West?
In China, one has to be willing to serve the people to become a CCP member. One has to take responsibility to enter a junior position. A province in China is as large as a country in Europe. To be a Chinese leader one has had great achievement in a province. To be a province leader one has had great achievement in a county. The government achievement is compared with neighbour counties or other provinces, and see how is the economy developed and how people satisfied. If you are not good at serving the people of more and more population, you cannot get up the ladder. That’s Chinese meritocracy. If one cannot serve the people of a village well, he or she cannot be an officer in a province. If one cannot serve the people of a province well, he or she cannot be an officer of the state.
Take Xi as an example. Xi worked at the beginning as a secretary of CCP in 1974 at a small village of Shaanxi Province, in charge of a population less than 300. Then he worked as a secretary of CCP in a county of Hebei Province, with 400 thousand of the population, the population size of Iceland. Then he worked as a vice mayor of Xiamen City of Fujiang Province, about 3 million of an urban population, the population size of Mongolia. Then he worked as the Secretary of Ninde Region of Fujian Province, with 3 million of a rural population, the population size of Armenia. Then he worked as the Secretary of Fuzhou City, with a population of 7 million, the size of Hong Kong. Then he worked as the Premier of Fujian Province, with a population of 38 million, the size of Poland. Then he worked as the Premier of Zhejiang Province, with a population of 55 million, the size of South Korea. Then he worked as the Secretary of Shanghai city with a population of 24 million, the size of Australia. A province in China is like a median country. It took him 19 years to accent from grassroots to reach provincial level. It is like that he has been the leaders of Iceland, Mongolia, Armenia, HongKong，Poland, South Korea, and Australia in his resume of 14 years of country leadership experience. And he has to be good at those positions to ascend the ladder. By the time he becomes the leader of China in 2013, he has worked from the grassroots up for 40 years.
China had their leader based on what he or she have done before, while West had their leader base on what he or she says in the campaign. That is one of the unique characters of Chinese meritocracy.