China must be on guard against highly improbable, unimaginable “black swan” events while also fending off highly probable but often neglected “gray rhino” risks, Chinese President Xi Jinping told senior Communist Party officials at the opening ceremony of a study session at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee January 21st.
Xi spoke shortly after newly released economic data showed that in 2018 China’s economy had slowed to the lowest rate in 28 years.
“In the face of a turbulent international situation, a complex and sensitive environment, and the arduous task of reform … We must be highly vigilant against ‘black swan’ and ‘grey rhinoceros’ incidents,” he said. Xinhua News Agency issued a full statement on his talk.
Xi cited areas in which China faces major risks: politics, ideology, economy, science and technology, society, the external environment, and party building.
His comments generated worldwide news coverage, from Australia to Indonesia to Argentina, and helped send U.S. stocks down over concerns about the effect of a slowing Chinese economy on global growth.
Columnist Ana Fuentes of Spain’s El Pais newspaper wrote, “More than black swans, it appears that 2019 will be the year of gray rhinos, threats that we have identified but have not been able to or known how to stop.” Top on her list was the crisis of governability in the West.