China Leadership Monitor

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Fall 2018 Issue 57

Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy

Chinese Views on the Singapore Summit Between Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong-un

by Michael D. Swainevia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Chinese observers generally view the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a positive step towards denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

Military Affairs
Military Affairs

“Like Donkeys Slaughtered After They Are Too Old to Work a Grindstone”: PLA Veterans Protests and Party-Military Relations Under Xi Jinping

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

People’s Liberation Army (PLA) veterans are a revered and honored class in China, and the political leadership is very sensitive to perceptions of their treatment and their potential for anti-regime collective action.

Economic Policy
Economic Policy

Economic Policy under Trade War Conditions: Can China Move Beyond Tit for Tat?

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

It has proven extremely difficult for China to deal effectively with Donald Trump’s economic agenda.  

Party Affairs
Party Affairs

Valedictory: Analyzing The Chinese Leadership In An Era Of Sex, Money, And Power

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

This article, my last as Monitor general editor and contributor, offers perspectives on the methods of analyzing Chinese leadership politics today.

E.g., 10 / 22 / 2018
E.g., 10 / 22 / 2018
Thursday, January 30, 2003

Winter 2003: Issue 5

Foreign Policy

by Thomas Christensen Thursday, January 30, 2003
article

Military Affairs

by James Mulvenon Thursday, January 30, 2003
article

Political Reform

by Joseph Fewsmith Thursday, January 30, 2003
article

Economic Policy

by Barry Naughton Thursday, January 30, 2003
article

Party Affairs

by Alice L. Miller Thursday, January 30, 2003
article

The Provinces

by Cheng Li Thursday, January 30, 2003
article
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

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Foreign Policy

China’s Assertive Behavior—Part Four: The Role of the Military in Foreign Crises

by Michael D. Swainevia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, April 30, 2012

The previous essay in this series on China’s assertive behavior examined the general role of the Chinese military in the PRC foreign policy process, focusing on leadership and organizational issues. This essay builds directly on that essay by focusing in particular on the military’s role in leadership decision-making and lower-level implementation with regard to political-military crises with foreign powers.

Special Topic: Preparing for the 18th Party Congress

Preparing for the 18th Party Congress: Procedures and Mechanisms

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 6, 2012

By now just about every observer knows that the Chinese leadership will undergo a major generational change at the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in the fall of 2012. The leadership transition’s actual procedures and mechanisms are less well known. This essay describes the Chinese leadership’s ongoing preparations for the transition on both the personnel and ideological fronts. It addresses two crucial questions: How will the delegates to the congress and the members of the new central committee be chosen? And how will the party’s ideological platform be formulated?

Special Topic: Preparing for the 18th Party Congress

The Road to the 18th Party Congress

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 6, 2012

The recent scheduling of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th National Congress kicks off the long process of preparations for what will bring about a turnover in leadership generations next year. National party congresses are the most important public event in Chinese leadership politics, and their convocation involves long preparations that inevitably heat up the political atmosphere in Beijing more than a year ahead of time. This article lays out the formal processes involved in preparing for next year’s congress.

Political Reform

“Social Management” as a Way of Coping With Heightened Social Tensions

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 6, 2012

Over the last year there has been an increasing emphasis on “social management” as a way of managing increasing social tensions in Chinese society. Indeed, the effort the CCP is putting into publicizing this concept underscores high-level concerns. Although these concerns cannot be attributed to the Arab spring or other global events, such social movements certainly make the CCP leadership more wary about the ways in which external political changes might stimulate domestic incidents, especially given the growing role of social media. Although this emphasis on social management should not be seen as the government giving up on the modest efforts at political reform it has been undertaking in recent years, it does suggest that the government sees other measures as more important in the short run.

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.

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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.