The Second Coming of Zhu Rongji?

SHANGHAI – The recent release of a book of speeches by former Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji has refocused attention on his bold – and often highly controversial – economic reforms of the 1990’s, which included reining in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and overhauling the banking system. But the discussion has taken an unexpected turn, with Chinese media adopting a far less critical stance than that which has prevailed for the last two decades.

Given the apparent parallels between the challenges that Zhu faced and those that current Premier Li Keqiang is now attempting to address, not to mention their shared commitment to economic transformation, this shift could signify rising support for structural reform. But are Zhu and Li really so much alike?