A few weeks ago, Xi Jinping, the man who will shortly become the next president of China, disappeared. Perhaps he was getting cold feet. That is not a very likely explanation for Mr Xi’s 13-day vanishing act. Far more likely he was ill or fighting a behind-the-scenes battle over the remaining slots on the Politburo’s all-powerful standing committee. But he would not be human if he had not paused to contemplate the enormity of the task before him. Domestically – not to mention internationally where China’s relations with Japan have strained to snapping point – Mr Xi faces extraordinarily complex policy challenges. How he might tackle them and what room for manoeuvre he has within China’s system of collective leadership will be the subject of next week’s column. Here, let’s confine ourselves to examining what kind of China he will inherit.