Like an envious underachiever, Vladimir V. Putin’s party, United Russia, is increasingly examining how it can emulate the Chinese Communist Party, especially its skill in shepherding China through the financial crisis relatively unbowed.
United Russia’s leaders even convened a special meeting this month with senior Chinese Communist Party officials to hear firsthand how they wield power.
In truth, the Russians express no desire to return to Communism as a far-reaching Marxist-Leninist ideology, whether the Soviet version or the much attenuated one in Beijing. What they admire, it seems, is the Chinese ability to use a one-party system to keep tight control over the country while still driving significant economic growth.
It is a historical turnabout that resonates, given that the Chinese Communists were inspired by the Soviets, before the two sides had a lengthy rift.
For the Russians, what matters is the countries’ divergent paths in recent decades. They are acutely aware that even as Russia has endured many dark days in its transition to a market economy, China appears to have carried out a fairly similar shift more artfully.
The Russians also seem almost ashamed