The issue that has dominated the trilateral U.S.-Taiwan-PRC agenda in recent months and that seems destined to do so for some time to come is the DPP referendum on joining the United Nations “in the name of ‘Taiwan.’” The issue of a “Second Republic” constitution, which was a matter of such great sensitivity in the first half of the year, has simply faded away with the passage of time and under the intense light of U.S. and Mainland attention. However, the UN referendum issue, already a matter of some controversy by early summer, came to occupy center stage not only in the election campaign, but also among all three actors in the triangular relationship.
After less than a year in the position, Deputy Chief of the General Staff for intelligence Zhang Qinsheng’s duties were assumed in June 2007 by new Assistant Chief of the General Staff Chen Xiaogong, a career intelligence officer in the General Staff’s Second Department. Chen is well known in American sinological circles, having served two tours at the PRC Embassy in Washington, and is well respected by interlocutors as a fluent America hand and strategic thinker. Yet Major General Chen’s 2001–2003 tour in the United States as defense attaché was also a career disappointment, as the hangover from the EP-3A crisis precluded contact with the Department of Defense for his entire tenure. This article outlines and analyzes Chen’s biography, assessing the implications of his career track and experiences for Sino-U.S. security relations.
Over the past several months there has been a vigorous discussion about democracy in China. Some of this discussion has been undertaken by well-connected, policy-oriented intellectuals, while other parts of the discussion have been conducted by liberal intellectuals who appear to have little policy impact. The Chinese Communist Party leadership, including Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, has, in general terms, endorsed continuing to implement various forms of “inner-party democracy.” Although such calls should be welcomed, they come at an odd time—just as the change of leading cadres at the local levels has come to a conclusion. The discussion on democracy may promote more experimentation at the local level, but the Party center has been firm on the importance of “democratic centralism” and “scientific socialism”—not democratic socialism.
Inflationary pressures have been building in China for the last year, and they erupted into the open in July. Policymakers have responded strongly, and the issue has taken center stage. After recounting current events, this article examines the economic background and implications of the recent changes and then looks at some of the political implications. The emergence of inflation heightens the economic and political dilemmas facing China’s leaders in the run-up to the 17th Party Congress.
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.
Several rising stars in the new generation of Chinese leaders will likely bound into the political limelight at the upcoming 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Although Hu Jintao is almost certain to hold the top leadership post in the Party for a second term, the race to succeed him will kick into high gear in the next five years. This article focuses on two frontrunners in the race, 52-year-old Party secretary of Liaoning Province Li Keqiang and 57-year-old Party secretary of Jiangsu Province Li Yuanchao, known collectively as “China’s two Li’s.” This article presents their biographical backgrounds, career paths, patron-client ties with Hu, strengths and weaknesses as contenders for the post of top leader, and their likely policy priorities.