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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. 

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.

Chainlink fence

Why Is the World Becoming Such a Nasty Place?

by Victor Davis Hansonvia Works and Days
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Central American parents send their unescorted children northward in hopes of remittances and eventual anchor amnesty for themselves. Our friend Mexico facilitates the exodus through its own sovereign territory (hoping that no one stops along the transit, and happy that the border is further shredded).

Barack Obama
Featured Commentary

Times Report Casts Shame on Obama's Handling of Ukraine Crisis

by Paul R. Gregoryvia
Sunday, July 27, 2014

To the surprise of many, but not to those who understand him, Vladimir Putin has upped his aggression against Ukraine in the wake of the shooting down of MH17 by his separatist allies. (For a definitive account of separatist guilt, see AP What Happened: The Day Flight 17 Was Downed.

Featured Commentary

The Global Security Deficit

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer is normally a time to take a break from the risks and worries of everyday life, and perhaps to take stock of where we are and where we are heading. But this is increasingly difficult, because our everyday lives are becoming so much riskier and more worrying.

Hot air ballons in Bagan, Myanmar
Featured Commentary

Burmese Visitors Get a Taste of Democracy and Hope

by Peter Berkowitzvia Real Clear Politics
Friday, July 25, 2014

“I was held for seven years as a political prisoner,” explained the soft-spoken 20-something woman from Burma (also known as Myanmar). “I want to understand freedom in America,” she continued with hopeful eyes and a determined voice, “so I can help people in my country.”


Research Teams