A common language

One of the best benefits of learning a new language is you begin to understand your own a lot better.

With that in mind, it is worth looking at China for an important window into how a country that some expect will become the world’s largest economy in a few years is wrestling with a political system and a leadership class struggling to stay connected to the nation’s wider population.

For example, lavish personal spending by officials, fueled by a cocktail of bribes and the state’s coffers, is no longer being tolerated. The New York Times found that everything from an official’s choice of wristwatch to the menus at bureaucrat haunts are being toned down at the behest of President Xi Jinping. Austerity has its own flavor in China.

The wielding of power in a functional political system during times of political and economic transition is critical to a nation’s competitiveness. Corruption, self-dealing and factionalism are liabilities that undermine any country seeking a leading role on the global stage. That is true in the private sector just as it is in government. When both realms are riddled with such flaws a country’s leaders are effectively selling their future to buy advantages today. Just as America wants to improve its own competitive position, other nations such as China are doing the same.

Read more at the American Security Project’s Flashpoint blog.