Bamboo curtain-raiser

12.03.19: CHINA HAS stunned political analysts with the appointment of a young and liberal leader.

The Communist party has officially announced that Cheng Ziyang takes over this year as president of the People's Republic.

Cheng, who at 43 is China's youngest leader, is more westernised than his predecessors and his appointment has surprised Sinologists.

There were fears that the aged government would continue to fail to bridge the gap created by the Cultural Revolution, which wiped out almost an entire generation of potential leaders.

The critical issues that Cheng will have to address are increasing pollution caused by smokestack industries and corruption among party officials, especially in the countryside, which has led to illegal deforestation and environmental degradation in the southeast.

The return of US-trained scientists has fuelled a boom in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. PF

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