Alice L. Miller

Research Fellow
Biography: 

Alice Lyman Miller is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and lecturer in East Asian studies at Stanford.

Miller first joined the Hoover Institution in 1999 as a visiting fellow. She also served as a senior lecturer in the Department of National Security Affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, 1999-2014. Before coming to Stanford, Miller taught at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. From 1980 to 1990, she was a professorial lecturer in Chinese history and politics at SAIS. From 1990 to 2000, she was an associate professor of China studies and, for most of that period, director of the China Studies Program at SAIS. She also held a joint appointment as adjunct associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins from 1996 to 1999 and as adjunct lecturer in the Department of Government, Georgetown University, from 1996 to 1998. From 1974 to 1990, Miller worked in the Central Intelligence Agency as a senior analyst in Chinese foreign policy and domestic politics and as a branch and division chief, supervising analysis on China, North Korea, Indochina, and Soviet policy in East Asia. Miller has lived and worked in Taiwan, Japan, and the People’s Republic of China; she speaks Mandarin Chinese.

Miller's research focuses on Chinese foreign policy and domestic politics and on the international relations of Asia. Since 2001, she has served as general editor and regular contributor to the Hoover Institution’s China Leadership Monitor, which offers authoritative assessments of trends in Chinese leadership politics and policy to US policymakers and the general public. She is also working on a new book, tentatively entitled The Evolution of Chinese Grand Strategy, 1550–Present, which brings a historical perspective to bear on China's rising power in the contemporary international order.

Miller has published extensively on policy issues dealing with China, including several in the Hoover Digest. Others include "The Foreign Policy Outlook of China's Third-Generation Elite,” with Liu Xiaohong, in The Making of Chinese Foreign and Security Policy in the Era of Reform (David M. Lampton, ed., University of California Press, 2001); "The Late Imperial State," in festschrift for Franz Michael, The Modern Chinese State (David Shambaugh, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2000); and "Is China Unstable?" in Is China Unstable? (David Shambaugh, ed., M.E. Sharpe, 2000). She is the author of Science and Dissent in Post-Mao China: The Politics of Knowledge (University of Washington Press, 1996) and, with SAIS professor Richard Wich, Becoming Asia: Change and Continuity in Asian International Relations since World War II (Stanford University Press, 2011).

Miller won the Distinguished Teaching Award at Johns Hopkins University in 1994–95 and the Schieffelin Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Naval Postgraduate School in 2012. Miller has been interviewed on Voice of America, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, as well as press from Japan, Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China.

Miller graduated from Princeton University in 1966, receiving a BA in Oriental studies. She earned an MA and a PhD in history from George Washington University in 1969 and 1974. Formerly H. Lyman Miller, she transitioned in 2006.

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Recent Commentary

Party Affairs

Leadership Presses Party Unity in Time of Economic Stress

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, May 8, 2009

Prominently publicized criticism sessions of the Party’s supreme political and military decision-making bodies in January capped a six-month study campaign to enforce Party discipline at national and provincial levels behind the policies of the collective leadership around General Secretary Hu Jintao. The campaign was launched in September 2008 to re-study the “scientific development concept,” which had been endorsed at the 17th Party Congress as a key element in the Party’s overarching ideological framework. As China’s economic growth sagged under the impact of the world financial downturn, however, the campaign subsequently shifted focus to stress the priority of Party unity behind the Hu leadership, apparently in an effort to squelch intra-Party debate and splits as tensions in China’s society sharpened from the economic crisis.

Party Affairs

The Central Committee Departments under Hu Jintao

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 9, 2009

Over the year since the 17th Party Congress in October 2007, the main working departments of the Party Central Committee have seen significant turnover in leading personnel. Adjustments in the top leadership of these departments serve to strengthen party General Secretary Hu Jintao’s hold on the Party apparatus well beyond his limited effort to do so in his first term as Party leader.

Party Affairs

The CCP Central Committee’s Leading Small Groups

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

For several decades, the Chinese leadership has used informal bodies called “leading small groups” to advise the Party Politburo on policy and to coordinate implementation of policy decisions made by the Politburo and supervised by the Secretariat. Because these groups deal with sensitive leadership processes, PRC media refer to them very rarely, and almost never publicize lists of their members on a current basis. Even the limited accessible view of these groups and their evolution, however, offers insight into the structure of power and working relationships of the top Party leadership under Hu Jintao.

Party Affairs

Xi Jinping and the Party Apparatus

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In the six months since the 17th Party Congress, Xi Jinping’s public appearances indicate that he has been given the task of day-to-day supervision of the Party apparatus. This role will allow him to expand and consolidate his personal relationships up and down the Party hierarchy, a critical opportunity in his preparation to succeed Hu Jintao as Party leader in 2012. In particular, as Hu Jintao did in his decade of preparation prior to becoming top Party leader in 2002, Xi presides over the Party Secretariat. Traditionally, the Secretariat has served the Party’s top policy coordinating body, supervising implementation of decisions made by the Party Politburo and its Standing Committee. For reasons that are not entirely clear, Xi’s Secretariat has been significantly trimmed to focus solely on the Party apparatus, and has apparently relinquished its longstanding role in coordinating decisions in several major sectors of substantive policy.

Party Affairs

The Work System of the New Hu Leadership

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Over the four months since the 17th Party Congress altered the lineup of the Party’s Politburo, public appearances by the new leadership have made clear how it has divided up responsibilities for the work of managing major sectors of policy. The resulting division of policy work also reveals a careful balancing of representation among major institutional constituencies on the Politburo, a hallmark technique introduced by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1980s to reinforce collective leadership in the oligarchy.

Party Affairs

China’s New Party Leadership

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Chinese Communist Party’s 17th Congress consolidated the power and policy directions promoted by General Secretary Hu Jintao and strengthened his hand in managing leadership processes and in shaping future decisions about leadership appointments. The congress also followed precedent in initiating the process of preparing Hu’s successor, who is intended to take power in 2012–15. Finally, the congress continued the effort to institutionalize collective leadership decision-making among the Politburo oligarchy.

Party Affairs

Beijing Prepares to Convene the 17th Party Congress

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, October 5, 2007

A meeting of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo at the end of August scheduled the convocation of the party Central Committee’s Seventh Plenum and proposed a date for the opening of the Party’s 17th National Congress later this fall. Preparations for Party congresses preoccupy the top Party leadership and inevitably heat up the political atmosphere in Beijing more than a year ahead of time. Judging by available indications, preparations for this congress have gone relatively smoothly. This article offers a number of inferences from the PRC media treatment of the upcoming congress about what themes the congress will address and about what changes in the leadership may emerge from the congress.

Party Affairs

Hu Jintao and the PLA Brass

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, July 16, 2007

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) national congress that will meet in the fall of this year is likely to register only limited changes among China’s top military leadership. These changes will only slightly alter the representation of the military on the Party’s top decision-making body, the Politburo, and the make-up of the key military policy body, the Central Military Commission (CMC).

Party Affairs

Hu Jintao and the Sixth Plenum

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Sixth Plenum in October last year passed a long resolution endorsing a major theme—building a “socialist harmonious society”—that the Hu Jintao leadership has pressed since 2004. The plenum also deferred addressing party and army leadership personnel issues that it might have taken up. In so doing, the plenum’s proceedings provided new clues to the ambiguities of Hu Jintao’s power in the current party leadership.

Party Affairs

The Problem of Hu Jintao’s Successor

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, October 24, 2006

One question that the Chinese Communist Party leadership is likely to address in preparation for the 17th Party Congress in 2007 is designation of the eventual successor to the party’s top leader, Hu Jintao. Resolution of this question will challenge existing arrangements and power balances in the leadership and so spark controversy and infighting. Not surprisingly, Beijing has tightly guarded whatever discussion of this question may have already occurred and has given no intimation of who Hu’s successor may be.

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