China Leadership Monitor

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Spring 2018 Issue 56

Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy

Chinese Views on the U.S. National Security and National Defense Strategies

by Michael D. Swainevia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Trump administration’s recent U.S. National Security and National Defense Strategies have drawn strong criticisms from the Chinese and have increased tensions in the U.S.-China relationship.

Military Affairs
Military Affairs

And Then There Were Seven: The New, Slimmed-Down Central Military Commission

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

In October 2017 at the first plenary session of the 19th Central Committee, Chinese state media announced the lineup of the new Central Military Commission (CMC). 

Economic Policy
Economic Policy

Xi’s System, Xi’s Men: After the March 2018 National People’s Congress

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, May 17, 2018

The National People’s Congress meeting in March launched a significant administrative reorganization and approved the appointment of a new generation of economic technocrats.

Political Reform and Governance
Political Reform and Governance

Central and Regional Leadership for Xinjiang Policy in Xi’s Second Term

by Jessica Batkevia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

After the 19th Party Congress last fall and the recent “two meetings” in March, the party-state has now completed its quinquennial leadership turnover and announced a major restructuring of a number of party and state entities.

Party Affairs
Party Affairs

Only Socialism Can Save China; Only Xi Jinping Can Save Socialism

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The abolition of constitutional term limits on the post of PRC president has attracted more attention than usually attends Chinese leadership politics, and sparked a flood of speculation about the purposes of Xi Jinping in engineering it.

E.g., 8 / 17 / 2018
E.g., 8 / 17 / 2018
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Fall 2002: Issue 4

Foreign Policy

by Thomas Christensen Wednesday, October 30, 2002
article

Military Affairs

by James Mulvenon Wednesday, October 30, 2002
article
by James Mulvenon Wednesday, October 30, 2002
article

Political Reform

by Joseph Fewsmith Wednesday, October 30, 2002
article

Economic Policy

by Barry Naughton Wednesday, October 30, 2002
article

Party Affairs

by Alice L. Miller Wednesday, October 30, 2002
article

The Provinces

by Cheng Li Wednesday, October 30, 2002
article
Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Winter 2002: Issue 1

Foreign Policy

by Thomas Christensen Wednesday, January 30, 2002
article

Military Affairs

by James Mulvenon Wednesday, January 30, 2002
article
by James Mulvenon Wednesday, January 30, 2002
article

Political Reform

by Joseph Fewsmith Wednesday, January 30, 2002
article

Economic Policy

by Barry Naughton Wednesday, January 30, 2002
article

Party Affairs

by Alice L. Miller Wednesday, January 30, 2002
article

The Provinces

by Cheng Li Wednesday, January 30, 2002
article

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Economic Policy

Macroeconomic Policy to the Forefront: The Changing of the Guard

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 6, 2012

Worries continue to swirl around the Chinese and global economies, but the news from China in the third quarter of 2011 was basically positive: Inflationary pressures eased while growth slowed only slightly. Moreover, surface indicators of the health of China’s financial system remained stable and even improved slightly. These developments took some of the pressure off policy-makers, and opened up new space for policy adjustment and innovation. This has allowed China to make some adjustment around macroeconomic policy, loosening it slightly. However, large shifts in macroeconomic policy—of the sort expected by some in the global investment community—are not likely to occur soon. The overall economic environment is still challenging, and there is increasing evidence of complex interactions among different parts of the financial system, interactions that may not be fully understood. Moreover, today’s policy decisions are intertwined with important personnel changes. In fact, the man most responsible for the improvement in the financial health of China’s banks has just stepped down. The retirement of Liu Mingkang, head of the China Bank Regulatory Commission, may have profound consequences for the Chinese financial system.

Military Affairs

Liu Yuan: Archetype of a “Xi Jinping Man” in the PLA?

by James Mulvenon, Leigh Ann Raglandvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 6, 2012

Liu Yuan and Xi Jinping clearly share a great deal in common. Both were born to senior CCP cadres, and are members of the elite “princelings” cohort. Yet both men’s fathers were subjected to purge and mistreatment during the late Mao era, and both families suffered grievously. Despite these dark memories, both went on to achieve rapid growth in their official careers, and both have been outspoken in their extolling of the early years of the CCP revolution. As Xi prepares to ascend to the highest positions in the political system at the 18th Party Congress, this article endeavors to profile Liu Yuan, identify his possible ideological and bureaucratic intersections with Xi Jinping, and assess the implications for PLA promotions and party-military relations in the Xi era.

China-Taiwan-United States

Taiwan Elections Head to the Finish: Concerns, Cautions, and Challenges

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 6, 2012

Two major political developments in recent weeks have played an important role in Taiwan’s presidential election: Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Washington and the problems she encountered convincing American officials she has a workable formula to manage cross-Strait relations, and Ma Ying-jeou’s sudden promotion of the idea of “facing” the issue of a cross-Strait peace accord sometime in the next 10 years, which created a tempest in the campaign teapot. Although Washington strove to temper any impression that it was “taking sides” in the election, the concerns about management of cross-Strait relations remained. The United States went ahead with the much anticipated and very sizable arms sales, and while the PRC protested loudly, it took minimal actions in response. Instead, Beijing began to focus more publicly on the Taiwan political scene, speaking out more and more explicitly about the consequences of an administration in Taipei that did not accept some version of “one China” and oppose Taiwan independence. While there were still limits to how bluntly the PRC position was phrased in order to avoid triggering charges of blatant involvement in the election, concern over the actual outcome began to outweigh concerns about the Mainland’s image on Taiwan, and Beijing was increasingly direct in pointing out that there was no way around the “one China” issue.

Foreign Policy

China’s Assertive Behavior—Part Three: The Role of the Military in Foreign Policy

by Michael D. Swainevia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 6, 2012

In examining the origins, characteristics, and likely future course of a “more assertive” China, many analysts point to the supposedly growing role of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Beijing’s foreign policy process. For such observers, the PLA is a conservative, highly nationalistic, and increasingly capable and confident actor in the Chinese political system and is the main force behind a range of more assertive and confrontational actions undertaken by Beijing in recent years. This article assesses what is reliably known about the role of the PLA in China’s foreign policy processes. It reviews the changing relationship of the PLA to the overall PRC leadership system and political power structure in China and focuses on the organizational and procedural relationship of the PLA to the foreign policy process in particular.

The Provinces

China’s Midterm Jockeying: Gearing Up for 2012—Part Five: Party Apparatchiks

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The apparatchiks, or functionaries, of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a group that includes several heavyweight contenders for the new top leadership, are particularly important at a time when the Chinese leadership is undergoing a large-scale generational change. These Party apparatchiks control the two most crucial functional domains of the Chinese political system: organization and propaganda. The Central Committee’s Organization Department is responsible for supervising or coordinating the turnover of thousands of current CCP officials in favor of younger colleagues from the central down to the township level, a process that began early this year and will conclude at the 18th Party Congress in the fall of 2012. Meanwhile, the Central Committee Propaganda Department’s recent tightening of media control and the return of old-fashioned Maoist propaganda (as evident in Chongqing’s propaganda fanaticism, which is endorsed by some top leaders) seems to reflect the growing tension between the continuation of rigid ideological indoctrination on the part of the Party apparatus and an increasingly pluralistic and rapidly changing society. This essay assesses the career paths, factional identities, and political status of the top 56 Party apparatchiks, and also analyzes a number of contending governance mechanisms in the now 90-year-old party, which has been struggling for survival or revival.

Party Affairs

The Politburo Standing Committee under Hu Jintao

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

During Hu Jintao’s tenure as general secretary, the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party has operated under a structure intended to promote collective decision-making on the basis of informed deliberation and consensus and to reinforce stable oligarchic rule. This structure is a refinement of top decision-making arrangements first set down in the 1950s, then restored in the early 1980s by Deng Xiaoping, and revised by Hu’s predecessor Jiang Zemin. While Hu’s presumed successor Xi Jinping is not bound by any explicit provision in the party constitution to replicate the structure and associated policy-making processes of the Hu era, their intended purpose would seem to constrain his freedom to reshape them arbitrarily.

Political Reform

Debating “the China Model”

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In recent years, especially since 2008, there has been a broad-ranging discussion about whether a “China model” exists, and, if so, whether it is good or bad, and whether it is restricted to China or can be spread to other countries. While this discussion has involved both Chinese and foreign scholars around the world, it is largely a discussion about Chinese identity and whether and how China should adopt “Western” concepts and practices or resist such trends. Although some of the discussions are serious explorations of development trends, most are highly politicized and emotional. Participants in the discussion tend to fall along the lines of past debates, with those identified with the “new left” advocating the existence and virtues of the China model, and those identified as liberal rejecting the claims of the former. In addition, there are some who seek to avoid politicization by taking an agnostic attitude toward the existence of a China model. In many ways, the discussion of the China model is a recurrence of earlier debates over “socialism” and “capitalism,” “the Beijing consensus,” and even earlier debates in Chinese history about the uniqueness of Chinese civilization.

Economic Policy

Inflation, Welfare, and the Political Business Cycle

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Since April, China has focused on the inflationary challenge. The months of delay before strong measures were taken allowed inflationary pressures to become established, and inflation increased through July despite tight monetary policy. Politicians have resorted to price controls, including in the sensitive housing sector. The lack of success in fighting inflation has fed an unsettled mood in the population, which complicates the power transition set for next year. In particular, the position of Li Keqiang, premier designate, has been weakened.

Military Affairs

Give Us Another Chance? China and the 2011 Shangri-La Dialogue

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Between 3 and 5 June 2011, the national security officials of 28 Asia-Pacific nations gathered in Singapore for the annual Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue. After a rough year, marked by clashes with regional neighbors and an unprecedented rebuke at the ASEAN Regional Forum, Beijing saw this year’s meeting as an opportunity to repair damage and restore strategic momentum, and therefore sent its highest-ranking delegation in 10 years of meetings. This article examines Chinese strategic communications in the runup to the Dialogue, analyzes the content of General Liang’s keynote speech and his meetings with foreign counterparts, and assesses the implications for Chinese relations with the United States and the remainder of the region.

China-Taiwan-United States

The 2012 Taiwan Election: Off and Running

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The focus of cross-Strait relations has turned to Taiwan’s January 2012 presidential election, and particularly to the Democratic Progressive Party’s selection of its candidate for president and on the shaping of party positions on key issues—each with potentially major implications for relations between Beijing and Taipei. The DPP’s nomination of party chair Tsai Ing-wen and its focus on domestic economic and social issues as well as cross-Strait policies will have an important bearing on Beijing’s attitude toward the prospect of another DPP administration, and principally with regard to the DPP’s underlying doctrine regarding Taiwan independence and the concept of “one China.” With only a few months to go before votes are cast, most public opinion polls show a very close race between incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai. Demonstrating its continued hope that Ma will win reelection, Beijing has been sending out increasingly explicit signals that any administration in Taipei that does not oppose “Taiwan independence” and embrace the “1992 Consensus” (or some equivalent formulation affirming “one China”) will find it hard to do business across the Strait. At the same time, Beijing must wrestle with the very real possibility of a Tsai victory and the prospect that freezing cross-Strait relations could ultimately redound to the detriment of its long-term efforts to woo Taiwan toward reunification.

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The China Leadership Monitor seeks to inform the American foreign policy community about current trends in China's leadership politics and in its foreign and domestic policies. The Monitor proceeds on the premise that as China's importance in international affairs grows, American policy-makers and the broader policy-interested public increasingly need analysis of politics among China's leadership that is accurate, comprehensive, systematic, current, and relevant to major areas of interest to the United States.

China Leadership Monitor analysis rests heavily on traditional China-watching methods of interpreting information in China's state-controlled media. Use of these methods was once universal among specialists in contemporary Chinese affairs. Although the use of these methods has declined as opportunities to study China using other approaches have opened up in recent decades, their value in following politics among China's top leadership has not. Monitor analysis also brings to bear some of the new avenues of information and insight that have opened up since the normalization of U.S.-China relations and China's policy "opening to the outside world" in the late 1970s.

The China Leadership Monitor website is updated with new analyses quarterly.

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The China Leadership Monitor is sponsored by the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Its general editor is Hoover Institution research fellow Alice Miller.