Magazine article The Spectator

Engineering Solutions

Magazine article The Spectator

Engineering Solutions

Article excerpt

This is from a 2007 blog, listing the Chinese politburo:

Hu Jintao, 62, President of the People's Republic of China, graduate of Tsinghua University, Beijing, Department of Water Conservancy Engineering.

Huang Ju, 66, graduate of Tsinghua University, Department of Electrical Engineering.

Jia Qinglin, 65, graduate of Hebei Engineering College, Department of Electric Power.

Li Changchun, 61, graduate of Harbin Institute of Technology, Department of Electric Machinery.

Luo Gan, 69, graduate of Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, Germany.

Wen Jiabao, 62, premier of State Council, graduate of Beijing Institute of Geology, Department of Geology and Minerals.

Wu Bangguo, 63, graduate of Tsinghua University, Department of Radio Engineering.

Wu Guanzheng, 66, graduate of Tsinghua University, Power Department.

Zeng Qinghong, 65, graduate of Beijing Institute of Technology, Automatic Control Department.

I just checked to find out if anything had changed since 2007; perhaps they had recently decided to embrace diversity, appointing two female poets and someone with a background in contemporary dance.

And so they have. Of the four new appointments since 2007, one is only in his late 50s and only three are engineers. Li Keqiang, the lone non-engineer of the nine, has a PhD in economics. This preponderance of engineers is not quite so exceptional as it first seems, since it reflects the communist fetish for heavy industry 45 years ago. And it is not all good - left unchecked, engineers are prone to devise grandstanding infrastructure projects that deliver little human value. But it is still revealing.

How many scientists are there in the House of Commons? Rather few, it seems. To me, one of the most depressing aspects of the MPs' expenses affair was how few claims seemed to be for any form of technology other than widescreen TVs. …

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