China Leadership Monitor

China Leadership Monitor

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EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 10, 2018 THE CHINA LEADERSHIP MONITOR WEBSITE CAN BE FOUND AT WWW.PRCLEADER.ORG.

This page serves as an archive for China Leadership Monitor hosted at the Hoover Institution prior to November 10, 2018.

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.

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.

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E.g., 6 / 17 / 2019

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China-Taiwan-United States

All Economics Is Political: ECFA Front and Center

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Following the brouhaha over Taiwan arms sales and President Obama’s White House meeting with the Dalai Lama, Beijing and Washington worked their way back toward “normalcy” in what was clearly a carefully orchestrated set of moves. Meanwhile, the transpacific controversy seemed to have no impact on cross-Strait relations, and, although not all was smooth sailing, Taipei and Beijing began to close in on signing an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) by May or June.

Political Reform

Bo Xilai Takes On Organized Crime

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Although the 18th Party Congress remains two years away, competition among officials for seats on the all-important Politburo Standing Committee appears to be heating up. Over the past nine months, Bo Xilai, Party secretary of Chongqing, has been carrying out a high-profile campaign against organized crime that has catapulted him into the limelight. Because his predecessor in that position was Wang Yang, currently Party secretary of Guangdong Province and seemingly a valued protégé of General Secretary Hu Jintao, there has been much speculation over the possible rivalry between these two contenders for power. This speculation has been fueled in part because Bo Xilai, son of senior political leader Bo Yibo, is a “princeling” while Wang Yang, with no special family background but with a long history in the Communist Youth League, appears to be favored by Hu Jintao. Although one must be cautious about drawing conclusions, it is a situation that bears watching as preparations for the congress continue.

Economic Policy

Reading the NPC: Post-Crisis Economic Dilemmas of the Chinese Leadership

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The National People’s Congress meeting reveals that the Chinese leadership, despite the successes of 2009, feel hemmed in by the economic challenges and dilemmas that face them. Economic policy-makers see themselves as having very little room for maneuver. While monetary policy must reduce excess liquidity in the system, it cannot shift to a sharply contractionary stance. Given the difficulties policy-makers are encountering, they are increasingly stressing administrative measures to achieve their objectives.

Party Affairs

Who Does Xi Jinping Know and How Does He Know Them?

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The consolidation in power as China’s top leader of Jiang Zemin in the 1990s and of Hu Jintao since the mid-2000s brought with it the rise to national prominence of leaders linked to them at earlier points in their careers. The leaders associated with Jiang were known as the “Shanghai gang.” Those associated with Hu Jintao are today referred to as the “Youth League clique.” This article assays the group of leaders who have worked with Xi Jinping over his career of 25 years as a provincial leader. If Xi succeeds Hu Jintao as China’s top leader, some of these leaders may figure strongly in his efforts to consolidate power.

The Provinces

China’s Midterm Jockeying: Gearing Up for 2012—Part 2: Cabinet Ministers

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012 will select a new Politburo and Standing Committee. The members of these two supreme leadership bodies will concurrently occupy the top positions of all other important Party, government, and military organizations. The most important of these institutions is the State Council, China’s cabinet. What are the demographic backgrounds, career paths, educational credentials, and factional affiliations of the 35 members of the State Council on the eve of its reshuffling? As Premier Wen and a few other senior government leaders will retire in two or three years, what will the post-Wen State Council look like? Who will be out, in, or up? What are the Chinese public’s main concerns regarding this upcoming governmental change of the guard? What are the most daunting challenges that the new leadership team will confront? This essay aims to shed light on these timely questions.

Foreign Policy

Perceptions of an Assertive China

by Michael D. Swainevia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

During the past two years, and particularly since China’s quick and strong recovery from the global recession, the long-discussed topic of China’s rise has come to be dominated by a new theme among both Chinese and foreign observers: The image of the supposedly cautious, low-profile, responsibility-shirking, free-riding Beijing of the past giving way to one of a more confident, assertive (some say arrogant), anti–status quo power that is pushing back against the West, promoting its own alternative (i.e., restrictive or exclusionary) norms and policies in many areas, and generally seeking to test the leadership capacity of the United States. This essay examines the features of the discussion in the West, and among many Chinese, regarding the notion of a more assertive China. It attempts to answer several questions: How is assertiveness defined or understood among Western and Chinese observers? What are the main manifestations or expressions of Chinese assertiveness? What is driving such assertiveness, in the views of both Western and Chinese observers? What are the lines of debate over this issue in China and the West, if any? What are the perceived implications of Chinese assertiveness for the future of the international system and Sino-Western relations?

Party Affairs

The Preparation of Li Keqiang

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, February 15, 2010

The Fourth Plenum departed from precedent in failing to appoint Politburo Standing Committee member and PRC Vice President Xi Jinping to the Party’s military decision-making body, and so provoked speculation that Party General Secretary Hu Jintao is maneuvering to have his crony Li Keqiang succeed him rather than Xi. A close examination of the roles and activities of Li Keqiang in the Chinese leadership since his appointment to the Politburo Standing Committee at the 17th Party Congress in 2007, however, shows that he has been engaged almost exclusively in the work of the State Council, the PRC state’s executive arm, under the supervision of Premier Wen Jiabao, while Xi Jinping has assumed responsibility for running the Party apparatus under the direction of Hu Jintao. This rigorous division of labor has not changed in the months since the plenum. This evidence, together with other indications in PRC media of Xi’s status, suggests that Xi remains Hu’s heir apparent and that Li continues to prepare to succeed Wen Jiabao as premier.

Economic Policy

The Turning Point: First Steps toward a Post-Crisis Economy

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, February 15, 2010

From the beginning, two questions have been asked about China’s stimulus program: Would it work? And given that many measures taken would have harmful long-run effects, would it be worth it? The first of these arguments is now over: The stimulus program worked, and reasonably broad-based growth is now apparent. A modest but unambiguous shift in macroeconomic policy has occurred in January 2010. However, with the return of growth, policy-makers now face a new set of problems that directly and indirectly reveal some of the costs and long-run harmful effects of the stimulus. This is already evident in the complex struggle to control bank lending in January 2010. Efforts to address potential problems are hobbled by a political leadership class that appears to be satisfied with the current situation and unwilling to tackle difficult problems.

The Provinces

China’s Midterm Jockeying: Gearing Up for 2012Part 1: Provincial Chiefs

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, February 15, 2010

China is set to experience a major leadership turnover at the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012. Current top leaders, including President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and Chairman of the National People’s Congress Wu Bangguo, are all expected to retire. The Politburo and its Standing Committee will be repopulated with a large number of new faces. Who are the most promising candidates for these supreme leadership bodies? What are the main characteristics and principal criteria for the advancement of these newcomers? Can one intelligently forecast the possible leadership lineup and factional distribution of power? To what extent will this new generation of leaders change the way Chinese politics operates? This essay aims to shed light on these questions and others by studying the 62 provincial chiefs—Party secretaries and governors—of China’s 31 province-level administrative entities. There is little doubt that today’s provincial chiefs will be among tomorrow’s national decision-makers. One can reasonably expect that a subset of these leaders will rule the world’s most populous country for most of this decade and beyond.

PRC-Tawain-United States

2010: The Winter of PRC Discontent

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, February 15, 2010

The economic situation in Taiwan continued to show signs of a nascent turnaround, but Ma Ying-jeou’s political fortunes continued their downward slide. ECFA remains a focus of DPP opposition, but both Taipei and Beijing seem committed to completing the agreement by May, and formal talks have begun. At the same time, cross-Strait political dialogue appears to have been put on the back burner for now, though both sides believe it will be necessary at some future point. In this context emerged the sharp PRC reaction against the Obama administration’s announcement of a $6.4 billion package of arms for Taiwan. What Beijing will actually do to demonstrate its strong objections remains to be seen, as does the Chinese response to the forthcoming visit of the Dalai Lama to the White House. In light of the potential importance of the PRC’s new, more assertive approach to what it sees as assaults on its “core interests,” most of this essay is devoted to examining the arms sales issue.

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