Two national leaders among 'influential 100'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 April, 2009, 12:00am

Vice-President Xi Jinping and Vice-Premier Wang Qishan will be in a yearly list of the world's 100 most influential people to be published by Time magazine tomorrow.

Jack Ma, the founder of the business-to-business website Alibaba, was also picked for the diverse list, alongside international names including US President Barack Obama, Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, disgraced financier Bernard Madoff and Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet.

A glowing citation for Mr Wang - who was chosen by a panel of Time editors - has been written by former US Treasury secretary Henry Paulson, who was his partner in the US-China strategic economic dialogue.

Mr Paulson describes the 60-year-old vice-premier as 'decisive and inquisitive', and a driver of China's economic success.

'He is the man China's leaders look to for an understanding of the markets and the global economy.

'As a result, China has been supportive of US actions to stabilise our capital markets and has not given in to those who advocate reversing economic reform to insulate China from the world ... He is bold - he takes on challenges, does things that have never been done before and succeeds ... Wang Qishan thinks globally - and because of that, China and the world are better off.'

Mr Xi is introduced to Time readers as 'the most likely candidate to assume the country's presidency in 2012' in a citation by Joshua Cooper Ramo, managing director at the international consulting firm Kissinger Associates. Mr Ramo describes Mr Xi, 55, son of Long March hero Xi Zhongxun , as coming from the clique known as the 'princelings', but cautions: 'To label him so narrowly is an error.

'Xi's own experiences as a provincial leader and his firm politician's instinct suggest that he is trying to knit the interest groups of China's ruling Communist Party into something capable of executing the difficult political and economic reforms that have become essential.

'The running joke in Beijing is that any time there is a potentially nasty task, Xi gets it: the Olympics last summer and now an urgent new working group on social stability.'

Mr Ramo writes of Mr Xi's anticipated path to the presidency: 'You can already feel the Chinese system starting to flex as it prepares to make way for him.'

Mr Ma, 44, founder and chief executive officer of the world's biggest business-to-business online marketplace Alibaba, is described in his citation by Harvard Business Review editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius as a 'soft-spoken and elflike' character whom you could be forgiven for mistaking for an English teacher.

Despite his unassuming appearance, Mr Ignatius points out, his site now claims 8 million users and saw revenues grow by 39 per cent last year to US$440 million.

'Ma says he handled early difficulties by being flexible. He once said: 'There were three reasons why we survived. We had no money, we had no technology and we had no plan.' Now Ma is rich in all three.'

Mr Ma is chosen for the 'Builders and Titans' section of the poll, while Mr Xi and Mr Wang are in the 'Leaders and Revolutionaries' section. All three appear for the first time.

In the Time 100 list last year, President Hu Jintao and the Dalai Lama were both chosen as 'Leaders and Revolutionaries', while Lou Jiwei, chairman of China Investment Corp, was named among the 'Builders and Titans'.