This issue of the China Leadership Monitor does not include an article on foreign policy because our regular contributor on this issue, Professor Thomas Christensen, has been selected as deputy assistant secretary for East Asia in the Department of State. Although we will miss his contributions to the Monitor while he is in the nation's service, we offer him our congratulations.
For more than a decade, General Xiong Guangkai used his position as the head of military intelligence to influence Chinese leadership assessments of foreign and security policy, especially Sino-U.S. relations. News reports suggest that General Xiong has finally retired, after staying in his position well past the mandatory retirement age, a longevity that most foreign observers attributed to his self-described and perhaps real indispensability. His replacement, General Zhang Qinsheng, is not a military intelligence officer by training, but has instead occupied a series of critical staff and command positions. This article analyzes General Zhang's known biographical data and presents his limited public comments for clues about his outlook and attitudes.
For the last two years, the Chinese media have widely discussed the "Qiu He phenomenon," attempting to understand the significance of a local county party secretary's using autocratic methods to jump-start the economy of Jiangsu's poorest county. The party secretary, Qiu He, has been both praised and criticized. But now he has also been promoted to vice governor of the wealthy province of Jiangsu, and at 50 years of age he could rise farther in China's political system. Promotions to vice governor rarely raise eyebrows, but the significance of Qiu's promotion has been widely discussed. Known as an "official with personality," Qiu stands out among the ranks of China's generally staid bureaucracy, and his rise prompts speculation about what types of officials might be promoted under Hu Jintao and what this means for the building of institutions in China.
Financial reform policies have moved ahead rapidly in the last year. At the same time, a mood of disillusionment within Chinese society has been seized upon by critics of reform. General criticisms of "neo-liberal" policies worldwide have fed into specific criticisms of the practice of selling shares in state-owned banks to foreign financial institutions. Vigorous debate has been joined, but thus far, the debate has had limited impact on economic policymaking, which is still dominated by technocrats. However, the official sponsorship of such "leftist" critiques has contributed to increased tension in Chinese leadership politics generally.
A recent chronicle of Deng Xiaoping's political life after 1975 discloses previously restricted information about scores of meetings of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) top decision-making bodies, the Politburo and its Standing Committee. These data provide a more reliable baseline than has been previously available against which to assess the long-term evolution of the party Politburo in the post–Mao Zedong era and, together with continuing PRC media coverage of current sessions of the party Politburo, analyze its present-day procedures. This article complements and extends analysis, published in previous issues of the China Leadership Monitor, of Politburo operations since 2002 under the CCP's present top leader, General Secretary Hu Jintao.
The alarming statistics on public protests recently released by the Chinese authorities have led some analysts to conclude that the Chinese regime is sitting atop a volcano of mass social unrest. But these statistics also reaffirm the foresight of Hu Jintao, especially his recent policy initiatives that emphasize social justice over GDP growth. In this context, the escalation of mass protests could help to consolidate, rather than weaken, Hu's power in the Chinese leadership. Although Hu's populist policy initiatives seem timely and necessary, they may also lead to public demands for government accountability that undermine the stability of the country. In this circumstance, Hu's strategy is to localize the social unrests and blame local leaders, an approach particularly evident in the case of Guangdong, recently the site of major public protests. A detailed analysis of the current Chinese provincial leadership reveals both the validity and limitations of this strategy.