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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Economic Policy

Understanding the Chinese Stimulus Package

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, May 8, 2009

Shocked by the speed and depth of the economic downturn in 2008, the Chinese government responded vigorously with a very large stimulus package. The Chinese leadership has continued to modify the program, adding initiatives and layers of complexity, while sticking to the original headline numbers. The overall stimulus program can be broken down into three interrelated components: an investment plan, a set of funding mechanisms, and a series of industrial policies. Together, these initiatives make up a large, activist intervention in the Chinese economy that will shape the trajectory of Chinese development for a decade or more.

PRC-Tawain-United States

First the Easy, Now the Hard

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, May 8, 2009

PRC President Hu Jintao’s speech on cross-Strait relations last December laid out a major initiative for a comprehensive economic agreement, political dialogue and accommodation to Taiwan’s aspiration for “international space,” and dialogue to consider a mechanism to enhance mutual military trust that he presented as adaptations to positive changes in Taiwan since last year’s elections and as a “new starting point in history.” Debates followed Hu’s proposal, both on Taiwan and on the Mainland, that centered not only on the “what” and “how” of the six points, but also on the pace at which progress might be made. On the Mainland, some of the impatience seems to come from those who assume that whatever is left undone when Hu steps down after finishing his second term in 2012/2013 will languish for a considerable period of time as the next leader establishes his position and sets his priorities. And they fear that this “delay” will last at least through most of the successor’s first five-year term, leaving a policy vacuum in which political developments in Taiwan could bring new challenges.

In Taiwan, the principal expressions of impatience seem to be coming from President Ma himself. In addition, although the general level of public support for Ma’s approach to cross-Strait relations remains high, the concerns expressed by the DPP go across the board to include sovereignty, economic dependence, and even basic identity. In any case, if progress is to be accelerated even on economic cooperation, it would appear that authorities on both sides have some work to do to allay concerns and generate support for the quicker pace.

Special Topic: The Third Plenum's Rural Reforms

Tackling the Land Issue—Carefully

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 9, 2009

Thirty years after undergoing a major revolution that de-collectivized agriculture, China is facing another major change in rural life as commercial agriculture spreads and as peasants migrate to the cities. This revolution in rural affairs, however, has been much more difficult. Cadres and peasants contend over land rights, growing income gaps between urban and rural areas fuel social discontent, and cities resist extending urban services to rural migrants. As the recent decision of the Third Plenum shows, China’s leaders are confronting the difficult issues involved, but are doing so cautiously. The Plenum decision also suggests that socially contentious issues that have boiled over in many places will continue for years to come.

Military Affairs

Chairman Hu and the PLA’s "New Historic Missions"

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 9, 2009

In a speech delivered on Christmas Eve 2004, Hu Jintao introduced a new set of "historic missions" for the Chinese armed forces. These missions constitute one part of a broader revision of the PLA’s "strategic guiding theory," derived in large measure from Hu Jintao’s overall ideological guidance on "scientific development." This article examines the timing, content, dissemination, and implementation of the "historic missions," which is a useful test case of Hu’s relationship with the PLA as reflected in military political work.

Party Affairs

The Central Committee Departments under Hu Jintao

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 9, 2009

Over the year since the 17th Party Congress in October 2007, the main working departments of the Party Central Committee have seen significant turnover in leading personnel. Adjustments in the top leadership of these departments serve to strengthen party General Secretary Hu Jintao’s hold on the Party apparatus well beyond his limited effort to do so in his first term as Party leader.

Special Topic: The Third Plenum's Rural Reforms

Hu Jintao’s Land Reform: Ambition, Ambiguity, and Anxiety

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 9, 2009

Amid the global financial crisis and its strong impact on the Chinese economy, the Party leadership has embarked on another land reform plan. This ambitious development plan promises to give farmers more rights and market incentives that will encourage them to subcontract and transfer land. It will also give incentives for surplus rural laborers to move to urban areas. What is the impetus behind this new round of land reform? What are the principal objectives and policy initiatives? How well are China’s leaders going to be able to handle a socioeconomic transformation of this magnitude? What are the possible negative consequences of this reform? What kind of leadership division might occur? What sorts of local versus national fissures might this new development strategy open? Will this land reform be able to significantly reduce the economic disparity in the country, thus increasing domestic demand in China’s vast rural areas? This preliminary analysis of the launch of Hu Jintao’s land reform aims to shed light on these timely and important questions.

Economic Policy

The Scramble to Maintain Growth

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 9, 2009

The reversal of economic conditions China has undergone since mid-year 2008 has occurred with a speed and thoroughness rarely, if ever, seen in history. In July, policymakers were still concerned with legitimate worries about inflation and overheating. By the end of October, they were scrambling to cope with an alarming economic slowdown. Given the centrality of economic growth to Chinese social and political equilibrium, policymakers returned to an intense focus on economic growth. The Chinese political system then did what it arguably does best: It concentrated policymaking resources on the most critical priority, in this case, propping up economic growth. By the time of the postponed Economic Work Conference (8–10 December), the entire apparatus of Chinese policymaking had been concentrated on the practical elaboration of a multidimensional and multiphase stimulus package. The leadership has been united on this push.

PRC-Tawain-United States

Cross-Strait Relations: "Ascend the Heights and Take a Long-term Perspective"

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Friday, January 9, 2009

To put it in Dickensian terms, the recent period has seen both the best of times and the worst of times for Taiwan. Significant progress has been made on many aspects of cross-Strait relations, primarily in the economic realm but in some respects extending beyond that. However, the extent to which enhanced economic links will provide relief for the increasingly troubled Taiwan economy is not at all clear. Moreover, how far the non-economic gestures and signaling will go in terms of satisfying Taiwan’s quest for "international space" also remains a question mark. But, at year’s end, PRC President Hu Jintao seemed to reflect flexibility in responding to the strong desire in Taiwan for "international space" and also presented other ideas for progress. At the same time, the advances in cross-Strait relations have also occasioned considerable domestic political turmoil in Taiwan, sharpening the divide between the government and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and exacerbating a struggle within the DPP over how closely it should tie itself to the fate of former president Chen Shui-bian.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration’s decision in early October to approve a reduced package of arms sales to Taiwan was generally well received on the island, but it led to a sharp rhetorical response from Beijing and a suspension of military-to-military exchanges with Washington. The suspension was expected to be short-lived, however—and probably will end with the inauguration of President Barack Obama on 20 January 2009. In general, both Beijing and Taipei made efforts to consolidate relations with the Bush administration in its waning days as well as with the incoming Obama administration. But even as this period closed, the PRC felt constrained to caution the United States that it is determined to protect its "core interests" and that Taiwan—along with Tibet—remains China’s core interest.

Party Affairs

The CCP Central Committee’s Leading Small Groups

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

For several decades, the Chinese leadership has used informal bodies called “leading small groups” to advise the Party Politburo on policy and to coordinate implementation of policy decisions made by the Politburo and supervised by the Secretariat. Because these groups deal with sensitive leadership processes, PRC media refer to them very rarely, and almost never publicize lists of their members on a current basis. Even the limited accessible view of these groups and their evolution, however, offers insight into the structure of power and working relationships of the top Party leadership under Hu Jintao.

PRC-Tawain-United States

Cross-Strait Relations: First the Easy Steps, Then the Difficult Ones

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Several events have driven relations between China and Taiwan recently. The first meeting in 10 years between Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the PRC’s Association for Relations Across the Strait (ARATS); the agreement to begin weekend cross-Strait passenger charter flights in early July and Mainland tourist travel to Taiwan two weeks later; and the atmospherics and leadership meetings accompanying Taiwan’s participation in the Olympics have all bolstered a sense of cross-Strait momentum. Despite the opposition DPP’s relentless attacks on Ma Ying-jeou’s cross-Strait policies, Ma and other senior officials have laid out the comprehensive policy rationales for their moves with the Mainland, and thus far they seem to be retaining popular support. At the same time, the administration has suffered a significant drop in overall support due to Taiwan’s poor economic performance. Economic recovery and cross-Strait relations will be inextricably intertwined, as the recovery will depend in important measure on greater involvement with the Mainland, while Ma’s ability to sustain the opening to the Mainland—and to forge a broad consensus for more difficult, political decisions on cross-Strait relations in the months ahead—will depend on his success in turning the economy around.

With regard to matters of “international space,” Ma’s call for a “diplomatic truce” may actually be bearing some fruit—at least for now. His low-key transits of the United States in late August, along with his successful stops in Latin America, have not provoked harsh PRC complaints. How Beijing will react to Ma’s new approach to the United Nations, however, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Ma has continued to lay stress on restoring a relationship of trust with Washington, and those ties in the first few months of the Ma era have obviously improved over the Chen Shui-bian period. But it may take some time before a significant level of comfort is reintroduced into the relationship. Consistency on both sides could play an important part in achieving that, but so far it has been somewhat lacking. This has been seen, among other places, in connection with a looming issue that will affect relationships along all three legs of the U.S.-PRC-Taiwan triangle: the future of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Taken altogether, the first steps to restore exchanges between Taiwan and the Mainland are generally moving ahead smoothly, with more to come. Even in the economic area, however, some obstacles will likely arise in the months ahead, not to mention in the more sensitive political and security arenas.

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