Yesterday Sydney University China expert Kerry Brown wrote on The Interpreter about the challenge China's new leadership has in trying to re-connect with ordinary Chinese people, who ignored last week's Politburo unveiling and feel little connection with China's leaders.

Watching  the interview I conducted a few days ago with the Lowy Institute's own China scholar, Linda Jakobson, I can see the same theme emerging. It's not what I intended when I came up with the questions, but the notion of a disconnect between party and people is unmistakeably there. Notice, for instance, Linda's response to my ostensibly straightforward first question about how China is governed. She replies that we basically don't know what goes on inside the upper echelons of the Communist Party.

So if a respected expert who has lived in China for 20 years doesn't know, what hope for the Chinese people?