Recent months have hardly been proud ones for People's Republic of China (PRC) security policy. On diplomatic policies toward Taiwan, Japan, and North Korea, respectively, Beijing has appeared bullying, emotional, and ineffective. Given the widely negative reaction to the passage of an antisecession law, it remains to be seen whether recent trips by Taiwan's opposition party leaders to the mainland in April and May will improve relations across the Strait or will polarize Taiwan politics and destabilize cross-Strait relations. With respect to Japan, government inactivity in the face of acts of vandalism and racist sloganeering on the streets of its major cities seemingly contradicts the PRC's effort to put a smiling face on a rising China. On North Korea policy, Beijing either has decided to live with a nuclear Pyongyang or, more likely, has simply been ineffective in trying to lure the Democratic People's Republic of Korea back to the six-party talks. These outcomes do not match the Chinese Communist Party's self-styled image as a peaceful, responsible, and constructive rising power.
In the course of consolidating his leadership, Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao has moved to put his personal stamp on the content of political work in the party and in the army. The main theme calls for maintaining the "advanced nature" of all party members, particularly those in the military. Based on the principle that the party's "advanced nature" derives from the party's "historic tasks for different periods," the current focus is on implementing "Jiang Zemin's thoughts on national defense and army construction," speeding up "military reform with Chinese characteristics," preparing for "military struggle," shouldering the "historic mission," "fighting to win," "resisting degeneration," and improving "the fighting capability of the army in the information era." This article explores each of these themes, providing textual exegesis of their probable meanings and assessing their implications for civil-military relations.
Contrary to hopes expressed by both Chinese intellectuals and foreign observers that the new Hu Jintao administration would be more open to political change and to freer expression of ideas, Hu's government has backed away from some of the tolerance that existed (though insufficiently) under Jiang Zemin. While Jiang Zemin did not shy away from criticizing presumed Western efforts to "divide" and "Westernize" China, the Hu administration has actively backed a campaign to criticize "neoliberalism" and has cracked down on the expression of liberal opinion. For the moment at least, Hu seems determined to address the problems facing China by strengthening the Chinese Communist Party rather than adjusting the relationship between the party and society through greater openness.
During April and May 2005, new policies were put in place to address some of the most contentious, long-running economic issues in China. Although the initial policy moves were modest, the way they played out illuminates the process of policymaking in China today, in particular the large and growing role of the State Asset Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). On balance, these changes have brought the SASAC to a substantially more important and powerful position in the Chinese economy.
At its annual meeting in March 2005, China's parliament formally transferred former top leader Jiang Zemin's last official post to his successor Hu Jintao. The transfer completes an unprecedented process of orderly leadership succession that began two and a half years ago. Since the National People's Congress, Jiang has assumed a nearly invisible public posture consistent with those of other retired elders among the Chinese leadership. Meanwhile, Hu has been depicted as moving carefully in new policy directions while maintaining continuity with the policies associated with Jiang Zemin.
The remarkable development of China's economy has been matched by the rapid rise of China's entrepreneurs. A group of young, well-educated, urban economic elites—China's "yuppie corps"—has recently emerged and taken the spotlight. Focusing on the CEOs of China's 100 leading enterprises, this article assesses the demographic characteristics, professional backgrounds, and career experiences of China's most prominent business leaders. Their relatively young age and the growing importance of their enterprises indicate that the most promising executives in China's flagship firms may broaden the way in which future political leaders are chosen. The rise of the yuppie corps in the business leadership of the People's Republic of China also suggests that Chinese firms in various industrial sectors may become even more competitive in the world market in the years to come.