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.

Subscribe here to receive a free copy in your email inbox every quarter.

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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Military Affairs

Evidence of Learning? Chinese Strategic Messaging Following the Missile Defense Intercept Test

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, February 15, 2010

China’s 11 January 2010 test of a missile defense system offers important examples of improved strategic communications, particularly when compared with the 2007 ASAT test. The Beijing government clearly had a strategic communications plan in place and issued immediate announcements, following them with a series of official and unofficial commentaries on the subject. This article explores the scope and scale of the strategic communications plan, with the goals of divining the government’s intentions for the test as well as the accompanying perception-management campaign.

Foreign Policy

China and the “AfPak” Issue

by Michael D. Swainevia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, February 15, 2010

In gauging the prospects for U.S. strategy toward the AfPak issue, it is important to understand the interests and motives, specific policies (and how they interact with U.S. goals), actual and potential influence, and possible future orientation and behavior of the Chinese leadership with regard to each of the above areas, as well as possible lines of internal debate. This essay offers an analysis of these factors and concludes with some speculations on whether and how China’s stance toward the AfPak issue might be modified to lend greater support to the Obama strategy.

Political Reform

Inner-Party Democracy: Development and Limitations

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, February 15, 2010

The Fourth Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee, which met in September, passed a decision on promoting “inner-party democracy,” a political direction with which CCP general secretary Hu Jintao is closely identified. Although there can be beneficial aspects of inner-party democracy, including expanding the pool from which cadres are drawn and increasing the number of people participating in the political process, the development of inner-party democracy over the past decade suggests that movement will be slow and that renewed emphasis on electoral practices within the Party is unlikely to stem corruption or reduce social conflict.

Special Topic: The Fourth Plenum (Party Affairs)

The Case of Xi Jinping and the Mysterious Succession

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, November 19, 2009

The conclusion of the Fourth Plenum of the 17th Central Committee in September without making widely anticipated leadership changes—especially with regard to Xi Jinping, the presumptive successor to top leader Hu Jintao—represented a significant departure from practices followed over the past 20 years in the highest echelon of PRC politics.  Beijing has offered little by way of public explanation for its deviation from precedent, and in the resulting information void, the range of rumors and competing interpretations put forward in the independent Hong Kong press and by foreign observers has been correspondingly wide-ranging.  Seen in the context of broader trends in leadership politics, and absent any indication that Xi has fallen out of favor, however, the plenum's abstention from making leadership changes may reflect broader reforms in leadership selection procedures being implemented in anticipation of the Party's 18th Congress in 2012.

Foreign Policy

China’s North Korea Dilemma

by Michael D. Swainevia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ever since North Korea began to acquire the elements of a nuclear weapons program in the late ’80s—but especially since Beijing became mediator of the ill-fated Six Party talks in 2003—China's leadership has been faced with an exquisite dilemma: how to encourage or prod its strong-willed, highly volatile Stalinist neighbor to give up the bomb and open up to politically threatening reforms while sustaining the cooperation and support of a seemingly impatient, often internally divided and potentially threatening United States.  Judging by public PRC statements and commentary, Beijing has grown increasingly frustrated over its inability to persuade, cajole, or pressure its erstwhile North Korean friend and ally.  As a result, China's leaders have become more supportive of tougher international actions toward Pyongyang and less willing to silently endure, downplay, or excuse the North's vitriol and provocative behavior.  They appear more tolerant of harsh domestic criticisms of North Korea (and even of elements of Beijing's own approach), far less inclined to present themselves as the North's ally, and more willing to coordinate their approach openly with Washington, Japan, and South Korea.  Nevertheless, Beijing's core strategic interests, beliefs, and objectives, along with its suspicions and uncertainties with regard to Washington, almost certainly remain largely unchanged, and hence its highly risk-averse approach to maintaining stability remains paramount.  This article identifies the most salient elements of change and continuity in China's approach to North Korea in order to gain a more precise understanding of the range of interests, assumptions, fears, and hopes that will most likely influence the PRC leadership's future behavior.

Economic Policy

Loans, Firms, and Steel: Is the State Advancing at the Expense of the Private Sector?

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, November 19, 2009

China pulled its economy through the financial crisis by recourse to a massive fiscal and monetary stimulus.  While successful, the stimulus has significant hidden costs that will burden the economy in the future.  Because it was channeled through state banks to state firms, the stimulus strengthened the relative position of state firms and extended the state's reach into the economy.  Events in the banking and steel industry exemplify the process.  Rapidly changing economic conditions open the possibility that the damage may be reversed by good policy-making going forward.

Political Reform

What Zhao Ziyang Tells Us about Elite Politics in the 1980s

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, November 19, 2009

On the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, the posthumous account of politics in the 1980s by former premier and general secretary Zhao Ziyang was published in both Chinese and English.  The publication of this memoir follows the publication of several interviews with the former Party leader and marks a continuing effort to speak to history.  Publication was apparently intended to remind the world of the tragedy of Tiananmen, but there is little sign in China that it is having much of an impact. Although Zhao's various accounts do not contain startling revelations, they do add much detail and nuance to our understanding of politics in this period. Indeed, the role and rivalries of personalities come through very clearly, allowing one to better understand the political meltdown that befell China in 1989.

Special Topic: The Fourth Plenum (Military Affairs)

The Best Laid Plans: Xi Jinping and the CMC Vice-Chairmanship that Didn't Happen

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, November 19, 2009

Contrary to the expectations of the China-watching community, Politburo Standing Committee member and presumed heir-apparent Xi Jinping was not promoted to be vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission at the Fourth Plenum in September 2009.  This outcome deals a blow to the prevailing theory of leadership succession, which predicted that Xi would follow the pattern of promotion of Hu Jintao before the 16th Party Congress en route to assuming the trifecta of state, party, and military leadership positions at the 18th Party Congress in 2012.  This article re-examines the assumptions of the promotion forecasts, analyzes the possible reasons for Xi's failure to be promoted, and offers alternative scenarios.

PRC-Tawain-United States

Cross-Strait Relations: Weathering the Storm

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Ma Ying-jeou administration has carefully dealt with several recent coincident challenges in domestic politics and cross-Strait relations.  These include its perceived failure to respond in a timely and effective manner to the devastation wrought by Typhoon Morakot, controversies over the visit of the Dalai Lama and over the showing of a film biography of Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, continuing negotiations of cross-Strait economic agreements, and Beijing's advocacy of political dialogue on such matters as military trust-building.

Special Topic: The Fourth Plenum (Provinces)

Intra-Party Democracy in China: Should We Take It Seriously?

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, November 19, 2009

The dominant theme of the recent Chinese Communist Party Central Committee meeting was “intra-Party democracy.”  China's top leaders characterized intra-Party democracy as the “lifeblood” of the Party and the principal determinant of whether the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will be able to maintain its position of primacy in the future.  Directives adopted at the meeting specify that the Party should more strictly and vigorously govern itself, noting that “this matter is more urgent than at any time in PRC history.”  It is evident that those who favor more political reforms, especially more competitive elections within the political establishment, now control the platform and agenda of the CCP.  This article argues that intra-Party democracy not only reflects the need for institutionalizing the new rules and norms of elite politics in the People's Republic of China (PRC), but might also provide for an incremental and manageable experiment of Chinese-style democracy.  The success or failure of this experiment will have profound implications for China's future, and this development should not be too hastily written off as irrelevant by the outside world.

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