China Leadership Monitor

China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer 2014: Issue 44

Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy

Chinese Views and Commentary on Periphery Diplomacy

by Michael D. Swainevia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

Recent Chinese initiatives that imply a more proactive approach in foreign and defense policy are the product of ongoing debate in Beijing over how to define PRC national interests toward China’s periphery.  Departing from Beijing’s approach during most of the reform era, they suggest a decreased emphasis on Deng Xiaoping’s longstanding exhortation for China to remain modest and maintain a low profile in its external relations.  Among the many questions this raises for China’s external relations going forward, the most important is how Beijing will reconcile the contradictory policy imperatives of deepening positive relations with neighboring countries while more firmly advancing China’s territorial and resource interests and claims.

China-Taiwan-United States
Nuclear Weapons
China-Taiwan-United States

Sunshine Heats Up Taiwan Politics, Affects PRC Tactics

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

In Taiwan this spring, the “Sunflower” student-led occupation of the Legislative Yuan, continuing interparty stalemate over the cross-Strait trade in services agreement and Legislative Yuan supervision of cross-Strait negotiations, revision of the referendum law, and the fate of the 4th Nuclear Power Plant sparked bitter political conflict.  At the same time, both major parties have begun the process of choosing new leaders.  All of those developments are sure to have an impact not only on domestic politics but also on cross-Strait relations.  On the PRC side, Xi Jinping’s policy toward Taiwan continued to attract attention, with the unification-related messaging of late 2013 giving way to a more pragmatic approach. 

Military Affairs
Military Affairs

Groupthink? PLA Leading Small Groups and the Prospect for Real Reform and Change in the Chinese Military

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

As a result of the 18th Party Congress and its subsequent plenums, especially the Third Plenum in the fall of 2013, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has embarked on a broad set of institutional reforms, tackling training, political work, command and control, and corruption among others. These reform efforts fall under the purview of newly established “leading groups,” led by senior officials in the relevant offices. This article examines the personnel and institutional makeup of these new groups, outlines their declared and undeclared missions, and assesses the probability of their success.

Economic Policy
Wuhan, China
Economic Policy

‘Deepening Reform’: The Organization and the Emerging Strategy

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

The Chinese leadership has set up an elaborate top-level apparatus to advance the reforms announced at last year’s Third Plenum.  This apparatus extends down to local governments and strongly incentivizes local governments to push forward with local reforms as well.  However, these reforms are still not well defined, and specific guidance from the top level has lagged behind the creation of “reform leading groups.”  The resulting pattern is one of broad movement but relatively slow delivery of actual reform measures.  As proposals percolate up from below and “top-level designs” are further fleshed out, we can anticipate an additional protracted stage of bargaining, conflict, and slow consensus-building.  Important reforms will emerge over the next few years, but there are also risks that irreconcilable conflicts may emerge or that botched reforms may incite a backlash.

Party Affairs
Party Affairs

More Already on the Central Committee’s Leading Small Groups

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

The Xi Jinping leadership has substantially revised the array of top-level leading small groups that prevailed under the Hu Jintao leadership.  In doing so the Xi leadership has unveiled aspects of the groups’ role in the policymaking and policy implementation, their leadership, and their varieties in the broader political order.  Although much about these informal groups remains obscure, the steps toward transparency shed new light on the leadership’s policy processes.

The Provinces
The Provinces

Xi Jinping’s Inner Circle (Part 2: Friends from Xi’s Formative Years)

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

The dominance of Jiang Zemin’s political allies in the current Politburo Standing Committee has enabled Xi Jinping, who is a protégé of Jiang, to pursue an ambitious reform agenda during his first term. The effectiveness of Xi’s policies and the political legacy of his leadership, however, will depend significantly on the political positioning of Xi’s own protégés, both now and during his second term.  This second article in a series examines Xi’s longtime friends—the political confidants Xi met during his formative years and with whom he has remained close over the past several decades.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring 2014: Issue 43

Foreign Policy

by Michael D. Swaine Friday, March 14, 2014
article

China-Taiwan-United States

by Alan D. Romberg Friday, March 14, 2014
article

Military Affairs

by James Mulvenon Friday, March 14, 2014
article

Economic Policy

by Barry Naughton Friday, March 14, 2014
article

Political Reform

by Joseph Fewsmith Friday, March 14, 2014
article

Party Affairs

by Alice L. Miller Thursday, March 13, 2014
article

The Provinces

by Cheng Li Friday, March 14, 2014
article
Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall 2013: Issue 42

Foreign Policy

by Michael D. Swaine Monday, October 7, 2013
article

China-Taiwan-United States

by Alan D. Romberg Monday, October 7, 2013
article

Military Affairs

by James Mulvenon Monday, October 7, 2013
article

Economic Policy

by Barry Naughton Monday, October 7, 2013
article

Political Reform

by Joseph Fewsmith Monday, October 7, 2013
article

Party Affairs

by Alice L. Miller Monday, October 7, 2013
article

The Provinces

by Cheng Li Monday, October 7, 2013
article
Friday, June 7, 2013

Spring 2013: Issue 41

Foreign Policy

by Michael D. Swaine Thursday, June 6, 2013
article

China-Taiwan-United States

by Alan D. Romberg Thursday, June 6, 2013
article

Military Affairs

by James Mulvenon Thursday, June 6, 2013
article

Economic Policy

by Barry Naughton Thursday, June 6, 2013
article

Political Reform

by Joseph Fewsmith Thursday, June 6, 2013
article

Party Affairs

by Alice L. Miller Thursday, June 6, 2013
article

The Provinces

by Cheng Li Thursday, June 6, 2013
article

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The Provinces

Xi Jinping’s Inner Circle (Part 2: Friends from Xi’s Formative Years)

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

The dominance of Jiang Zemin’s political allies in the current Politburo Standing Committee has enabled Xi Jinping, who is a protégé of Jiang, to pursue an ambitious reform agenda during his first term. The effectiveness of Xi’s policies and the political legacy of his leadership, however, will depend significantly on the political positioning of Xi’s own protégés, both now and during his second term.  This second article in a series examines Xi’s longtime friends—the political confidants Xi met during his formative years and with whom he has remained close over the past several decades.

Party Affairs

More Already on the Central Committee’s Leading Small Groups

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

The Xi Jinping leadership has substantially revised the array of top-level leading small groups that prevailed under the Hu Jintao leadership.  In doing so the Xi leadership has unveiled aspects of the groups’ role in the policymaking and policy implementation, their leadership, and their varieties in the broader political order.  Although much about these informal groups remains obscure, the steps toward transparency shed new light on the leadership’s policy processes.

Wuhan, China
Economic Policy

‘Deepening Reform’: The Organization and the Emerging Strategy

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

The Chinese leadership has set up an elaborate top-level apparatus to advance the reforms announced at last year’s Third Plenum.  This apparatus extends down to local governments and strongly incentivizes local governments to push forward with local reforms as well.  However, these reforms are still not well defined, and specific guidance from the top level has lagged behind the creation of “reform leading groups.”  The resulting pattern is one of broad movement but relatively slow delivery of actual reform measures.  As proposals percolate up from below and “top-level designs” are further fleshed out, we can anticipate an additional protracted stage of bargaining, conflict, and slow consensus-building.  Important reforms will emerge over the next few years, but there are also risks that irreconcilable conflicts may emerge or that botched reforms may incite a backlash.

Military Affairs

Groupthink? PLA Leading Small Groups and the Prospect for Real Reform and Change in the Chinese Military

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

As a result of the 18th Party Congress and its subsequent plenums, especially the Third Plenum in the fall of 2013, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has embarked on a broad set of institutional reforms, tackling training, political work, command and control, and corruption among others. These reform efforts fall under the purview of newly established “leading groups,” led by senior officials in the relevant offices. This article examines the personnel and institutional makeup of these new groups, outlines their declared and undeclared missions, and assesses the probability of their success.

Nuclear Weapons
China-Taiwan-United States

Sunshine Heats Up Taiwan Politics, Affects PRC Tactics

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 28, 2014

In Taiwan this spring, the “Sunflower” student-led occupation of the Legislative Yuan, continuing interparty stalemate over the cross-Strait trade in services agreement and Legislative Yuan supervision of cross-Strait negotiations, revision of the referendum law, and the fate of the 4th Nuclear Power Plant sparked bitter political conflict.  At the same time, both major parties have begun the process of choosing new leaders.  All of those developments are sure to have an impact not only on domestic politics but also on cross-Strait relations.  On the PRC side, Xi Jinping’s policy toward Taiwan continued to attract attention, with the unification-related messaging of late 2013 giving way to a more pragmatic approach. 

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The China Leadership Monitor seeks to inform the American foreign policy community about current trends in China's leadership politics and in its foreign and domestic policies. The Monitor proceeds on the premise that as China's importance in international affairs grows, American policy-makers and the broader policy-interested public increasingly need analysis of politics among China's leadership that is accurate, comprehensive, systematic, current, and relevant to major areas of interest to the United States.

China Leadership Monitor analysis rests heavily on traditional China-watching methods of interpreting information in China's state-controlled media. Use of these methods was once universal among specialists in contemporary Chinese affairs. Although the use of these methods has declined as opportunities to study China using other approaches have opened up in recent decades, their value in following politics among China's top leadership has not. Monitor analysis also brings to bear some of the new avenues of information and insight that have opened up since the normalization of U.S.-China relations and China's policy "opening to the outside world" in the late 1970s.

The China Leadership Monitor website is updated with new analyses quarterly.

The China Leadership Monitor is sponsored by the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Its general editor is Hoover Institution research fellow Alice Miller.