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China Leadership Monitor 2012 No. 39

October 1, 2012

Chinese Views of the Syrian Conflict

In contrast to its traditional stance regarding foreign intervention in the internal affairs of nation-states, Beijing has recently shown signs of accepting, or at least acquiescing in, internationally endorsed interventions in other countries, in some cases for reasons associated with the protection of human rights. This article takes a closer look at Chinese views toward the ongoing Syrian turmoil and the larger context created by the earlier Libyan experience in order to identify the elements of Beijing’s current stance on foreign intervention in human rights–related political conflict occurring within sovereign states, as well as possible differences in viewpoint and approach among Chinese observers.

October 1, 2012

Shaping the Future, Part II: Cross-Strait Relations

Beijing breathed a sigh of relief after Ma Ying-jeou’s reelection victory in January, and reaffirmed Hu Jintao’s December 31, 2008, vision for peaceful development of cross-Strait ties. While it might have preferred a more forward-leaning position from Taipei on the issue of political dialogue and a more unambiguous embrace of “one China,” it appeared to accept the results as “good enough” and to settle in for the long haul.

October 1, 2012

Say Hello to the New Guys

In late July 2012, six officers, two from the People’s Armed Police and four from the People’s Liberation Army, were promoted to the rank of full general, the highest possible rank in the service. The order was conferred by the presumably outgoing Central Military Commission Chairman, Hu Jintao, but was announced by his likely successor, Xi Jinping. This article examines the backgrounds of these six individuals, assessing whether they might represent new trends under Xi’s leadership.

October 1, 2012

The Political Consequences of Economic Challenges

China faces a growth slowdown with broad policy implications that are intertwined with the pending leadership succession. Central leaders are resigned to a growth slowdown, but do not have a clear strategy to deal with it. This provides an opening to reformers who argue that only substantial new market-oriented reforms can address the problems. There is a strong sense that Wen Jiabao’s era as an economic policy-maker is over and that he has left many difficult problems in his wake. Resolving those problems would require both determination on the part of the new leaders—who are as yet an unknown factor—and a new structure of representation of economic decision-makers on the Politburo Standing Committee.

October 1, 2012

De Tocqueville in Beijing

Even as public attention has been focused on the ouster of Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and the trial of his wife, Gu Kailai, as well as the upcoming 18th Party Congress, there has been a quiet but interesting discussion going on in Beijing about Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic work, Ancien Regime and the French Revolution, first published in 1856. Although seemingly far from the concerns of the day, the interest in the work in fact captures widespread concern in intellectual circles about the Chinese polity and where it might go from here.

October 1, 2012

A Pre-Congress Miscellany

Beijing has begun setting the stage for the 18th Party Congress, which is expected to see the largest turnover in the top leadership since the sweeping generational transition a decade ago. This article offers several observations on leadership politics and processes heading into the congress. Taken separately, the meaning of these observations is not clear. But taken together, they intimate a troubled and likely contention-ridden push to convene the party congress.

October 1, 2012

China’s Top Future Leaders to Watch: Biographical Sketches of Possible Members of the Post-2012 Politburo (Part 3)

The composition of the new Politburo, including generational attributes and individual idiosyncratic characteristics, group dynamics, and the factional balance of power, will have profound implications for China’s economic priorities, social stability, political trajectory, and foreign relations. This third entry in a four-part series provides concise profiles of possible members of the next Politburo, focusing on the following three aspects: personal and professional background, family and patron-client ties, and political prospects and policy preferences.

October 29, 2012

China’s Top Future Leaders to Watch: Biographical Sketches of Possible Members of the Post-2012 Politburo (Part 4)

The composition of the new Politburo, including generational attributes and individual idiosyncratic characteristics, group dynamics, and the factional balance of power, will have profound implications for China’s economic priorities, social stability, political trajectory, and foreign relations. This final entry in a four-part series provides concise profiles of possible members of the next Politburo, focusing on the following three aspects: personal and professional background, family and patron-client ties, and political prospects and policy preferences.