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Transcript: Prime Minister Stephen Harper on international trade, politics and immigration Add to ...

I believe so. I hope so. I mean it’s all part of the five Ts I talked about [at the World Economic Forum in India]: the big changes we’re trying to make to make sure we position our economy for sustained growth and job creation over the long term. (Editor’s note: In the speech, Mr. Harper referred to taxes, training, technology, transformation of bureaucratic processes and trade.)

China has begun a once-in-a-decade leadership change. It’s as far as I can tell very profound and is going to possibly mean a change in direction …

We don’t that. There’s a change of leadership. It’s a change of leadership. I think the honest truth is we don’t know. And nothing I’ve read either publicly or in my confidential briefings has suggested that we really know much about what the change is at this point. So I think it will be interesting to watch.

Can I make maybe one comment about it, comparing China to India?

Yes.

Because of the nature of the Chinese political system, change is occurring much more aggressively and much more rapidly and it’s in a much more clear direction than the kinds of change we’ve seen in India. However it’s also my judgment that because India is a democratic system, that the changes that happen in India will be much more profound in the society and sustainable over the longer term.

Whereas the Chinese political system can force profound change, rapid change, very quickly, there could be surprises along the way because we don’t know whether that change is moving in the same direction as the underlying society.

What do you mean “surprises?”

Well, we don’t know. We know that observers have commented on the strains that exist in Chinese society and really I think what we will see going forward is the increasing disconnect between economic wealth and freedom on the one hand and lack of political freedom on the other. And I think that in time that will lead to some interesting developments and much more difficult to predict over time.

The interview has been condensed and edited.

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