At a July press conference, PLA Major General Zhu Chenghu appeared to threaten nuclear first strikes on the United States in retaliation for American intervention in the Taiwan Strait. Predictably, General Zhu's remarks received tremendous attention in Washington and elsewhere. In addition, the Pentagon's recently released annual report on Chinese military power evoked a harsh and excessive reaction in Beijing. Unfortunately, therefore, when many Americans reflect on the past few months of U.S.-China security relations, they will think of the specter of nuclear exchanges. In general, however, Beijing's diplomacy on security issues over the same period has improved, a more basic trend that should not be overshadowed by General Zhu's bluster and Beijing's heated response to the Pentagon report.
Protests by retired soldiers—coupled with stern internal propaganda campaigns aimed at reinforcing military loyalty and denouncing talk of a "national army"—suggest cracks in the façade of Chinese party-army unity. This article analyzes recent civil-military developments in China, and assesses their implications.
Standing apart from the many recent reports of rural instability is an account of a different nature: It singles out a township in a region of Zhejiang Province known nationally for its flourishing market-based prosperity, where innovative reforms have been implemented to enhance popular participation in political decisions. Although these reforms are intended to strengthen the rule of the Chinese Communist Party in local affairs and not as a step toward democratic transition, they do suggest that the growth of "social capital" at the local level is bringing about greater public roles in policymaking, improving local governance, and perhaps even changing, albeit to a limited degree, the way the party operates at the local level.
Economic and business stories have dominated Western press attention to China in 2005, perhaps more so than in any previous year. Perceptions of a dynamic "rising China" have burst into American consciousness in an unprecedented fashion. Ironically, however, leadership decision making on economic policy in China seems to be sliding back toward a more bureaucratically dominated and less imaginative pattern. From a policymaking standpoint, there has been little significant innovation during 2005. This article reviews developments in four areas: currency revaluation, share conversion, consolidation of firms, and the new industrial policy for the steel industry. Taken together, the trends in these areas suggest a move toward cautious, incremental, and bureaucrat-dominated policymaking as well as an effort to step up the pace of corporate restructuring.
Nearly three years into his tenure as the top leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Hu Jintao has yet to make substantial progress in consolidating his power over the key organs of the central party apparatus. Hu's predecessor Jiang Zemin also moved cautiously and with limited success to place political subordinates into these posts at a comparable point in his tenure. Soon after consolidating his position at the top of the PRC political order, however, Jiang moved more quickly to promote his associates in the central party apparatus. Now that Hu has completed a comparable transition, he may move more assertively to do the same, especially as 2007 approaches, bringing with it the 17th Party Congress.
The promotion of leaders with Chinese Communist Youth League backgrounds (known as tuanpai) to ministerial and top provincial posts has been widely reported. Less noticed, but perhaps even more important, is how the rapid rise to power of these leaders correlates with Hu Jintao's new mandate emphasizing social fairness and social justice over GDP growth. This article analyzes the background of all 22 tuanpai officials currently serving as ministers or provincial chiefs from the perspective of two parallel developments—Hu's appeal for a "harmonious society" and the tuanpai's coming-of-age. The analysis reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of this emerging elite group and illuminates Hu's leadership style, political power, and policy orientation.