This essay addresses the decline in Beijing's optimism about cross-Strait relations following the December 2001 Legislative Yuan election in Taiwan and how that shift may affect Beijing's views toward a range of security issues. In this context, the essay assesses Beijing's rising concerns about Washington's posture toward cross-Strait relations in the wake of President Bush's trip to China in February and Beijing's increasingly critical posture toward the American war on terrorism and U.S. security policies in general.
The annual session of the National People's Congress held in March addressed concerns of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in three important areas. First, its announcement of the year's defense allocations within the larger state budget sheds light on the pace and scope of China's military modernization effort. Second, roughly ten percent of the delegates to the People's Congress and media attention to their deliberations provides insight into ongoing military issues. Last, the session adopted new regulations that illuminate institutional and doctrinal trends in China's military.
Wang Ke was born Wang Maoqing in August 1931 in Xiaoxian County, Jiangsu Province (later Anhui Province). In the early 1940s, this part of Jiangsu became an operating base for the New Fourth Army. With only an elementary school education, Wang joined the local unit of the New Fourth Army as a “young soldier” at the age of 13, serving as a communicator for the armed working team of Xiaoxian County. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) commander of the local military subdistrict was Zhang Zhen, a future top People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officer and powerful patron for Wang for the remainder of his career. Wang was reportedly personally trained by Zhang, who sent him first for additional education and tactics instruction.
For the past two decades, economic reform—or, more precisely, economic growth—has been at the center of China's thinking about politics. Party conservatives hoped to avoid social and political cleavages by constraining economic reform. Party reformers hoped to outrun and defuse social and economic challenges by developing the economy rapidly. Today, there is no escaping that reform has created winners and losers. That conclusion is forcing social issues to the center of political consciousness. Some believe that it is already too late to address these issues effectively, while others see them as forcing a process of political reform. For the moment, the political leadership is giving few indications of specific intentions regarding political reform. But it is nevertheless setting a tone and framework that provides space for such issues to be addressed. Although the Sixteenth Party Congress will be important for many reasons, it seems likely that whatever leadership arrangements are made, the pace of political reform will increase. Whether it will increase sufficiently is more difficult to assess.
Although economic policy is not the focus of current ideological debates, economic issues are still highly politicized in China, and economic policy questions will affect the leadership succession in numerous ways. For the past two years, China's stock markets have been the locus of contention among various factions of China's elite. This article looks at some of the issues the operation of China's stock markets has raised in Chinese leadership politics.
In anticipation of the party's Sixteenth National Congress this fall, Beijing has since the beginning of the year waged a massive campaign to overcome opposition to new political reforms intended to broaden the base of the Chinese Communist Party. At the congress, the central leadership seeks to lay the ideological foundations for the reforms by incorporating General Secretary Jiang Zemin's theme of the "three represents" into the party constitution. Judging by the scale of Beijing's campaign in recent months, intra-party resistance to these changes must be pervasive.
Hu Jintao's succession to Jiang Zemin as party chief is beyond doubt. The important question is whether Hu can effectively run the political apparatus of the most populous nation in the world. Crucial to assessing Hu's political future is an analysis of the political networks he has formed. Although Hu is not seen as a leader active in building patron-client ties in the party, he is nevertheless well-connected in the three most important institutions of elite recruitment in China today—Qinghua University, the Communist Youth League, and the Central Party School.