Asia’s Reform Trinity?

China's Xi Jinping, India's Narendra Modi, and Indonesia's Joko "Jokowi" Widodo could all end up ranked among their countries' greatest modern leaders. But, to succeed, they must embrace policies that directly challenge their countries' most influential actors.

SINGAPORE – Asia is poised to enter a historical sweet spot, with three of its most populous countries – China, India, and Indonesia – led by strong, dynamic, and reform-minded leaders. In fact, China’s Xi Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi, and Indonesia’s Joko “Jokowi” Widodo could end up ranked among their countries’ greatest modern leaders.

In China, Mao Zedong united the country in 1949, while Deng Xiaoping was responsible for engineering its unprecedented economic rise. For Xi to join their ranks, he must create a modern, rules-based state. That requires, first and foremost, slaying the massive dragon of corruption.

Over the years, corruption has become endemic in China, with regional party leaders and bosses in state-owned enterprises wielding their vast privileges and authority to accumulate personal wealth. This has severely undermined the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy, while hampering the kind of market-based competition that China’s economy needs to propel the country to high-income status.

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