What the new leadership lineup will say about the direction of political and economic reform in China is difficult to foresee. The initial language has been open and without complicated terminology. Words will become reform minded in the near future but deeds will remain very cautious, at least in economic and financial restructuring. Too much resistance and too many vetoes will slow down any change; real pressure for change exists only in the more intellectual circles. Ordinary people do not yet realize what needs to be done for the economy, and traditionally they leave it to the government to take the appropriate decisions. In this sense, China is becoming more and more similar to countries with a large voting base, even though its citizens do not yet actually have the right to vote.
It is premature to judge this new leadership as reform-minded or conservative. In reality, there may not be any blatant contradiction between the two positions; a conservative leadership might be strong enough to implement significant reforms. Some crises could still be possible on different issues, like a mass social unrest touched off by a specific issue, or an escalation in the South China Sea island dispute. The attitude of the Chinese Communist Party is a strong safeguard, since the organization is more adaptive then pro-active. A crisis may actually help to spur change; it could be also a less dramatic shock than a banking crisis, a local government financing shortfall, or a significant slowdown in GDP growth rate.
As far as business is concerned, the leadership change will not provoke a significant shift. Nothing radical will take place with regard to the previous line, unless there is a crisis as previously described. In political terms, the 18th Congress projects continuity mainly with strong statements, but they have been heard before and will be difficult to execute in practice. Mandarin Capital will follow a regular path, but after the 18th CCP Congress, Mandarin will speed up investment in welfare, health, environment, innovative oil and gas, and consumer goods, because it believes that the future leadership will consistently emphasize these industries without much resistance.