The Cruise That Changed China

What Zhao Could Teach Xi

China's new Politburo Standing Committee members line up as they meet with the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 2012. Carlos Barria / Reuters

On September 2, 1985, the SS Bashan cruised through the green-leaved gorges of the Yangtze River, its prow breaking the waters along its 259-foot length. Inside, the river’s shifting light played off the hallways, staterooms, and modish decorations, and air conditioning kept the late-summer heat at bay. The luxurious cruise ship had entered service earlier that year, with room for nearly 150 passengers curious to see sights advertised as “inspir[ing] romantic poets and painters with [a] sense of timelessness, awesome beauty, and endless energy.” But the spacious decks of the Bashan were strangely empty.

Nearly everyone onboard was massed in the main hall, where a world of accents resounded: American, Chinese, German, Hungarian, Polish, Scottish. All eyes were fixed on a man with elfin features behind thick-rimmed glasses, wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and no jacket: the Hungarian economist Janos Kornai. Behind him was an incongruous prop for a river cruise,

Loading, please wait...

To read the full article

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.