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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Economic Policy

A New Team Faces Unprecedented Economic Challenges

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Following the 11th National People’s Congress in March 2008, a new economics team was installed in the Chinese government. The distribution of responsibilities among this new team was hammered out very late in the day, months after the key vice-premiers were chosen. Whether because or in spite of its late inception, the new division of labor crumbled in the face of a global economic environment of unprecedented complexity that requires difficult and urgent policy choices. At mid-year, the economic leadership responded with a highly scripted and formalized policy exercise that culminated in a significant loosening of macroeconomic policy. Through this process we may dimly perceive a big increase in the behind-the-scenes influence of Wang Qishan, the vice-premier with the strongest economic background.

Political Reform

An “Anger-Venting” Mass Incident Catches the Attention of China’s Leadership

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On 28 June, at least 10,000 people, and perhaps as many as 30,000 protested the death of a schoolgirl in Weng’an County in southwestern Guizhou, the poorest province in China, overturning police cars and setting fire to the local security bureau. Video and still photographs of the event quickly circulated on the Internet. Shortly after the Weng’an incident, another mass riot broke out in Menglian, in neighboring Yunnan Province, showing that the emotions that fueled the Weng’an riot are not isolated. Whether because of an inability to cover up an incident of this size, the approach of the Beijing Olympics, or for other reasons, Chinese media quickly switched to trying to explain the causes of the incident and to calling for reforms to prevent similar confrontations in the future. Although the Weng’an disturbance was particularly large in scale, similar incidents have erupted in China over at least the last four years. Unlike protestors demonstrating against exorbitant taxation or land requisition, those participating in the Weng’an riot were not involved in the incident that set it off (the death of a girl), suggesting longstanding anger among the populace. Preventing similar incidents in the future marks a serious challenge for the Chinese government.

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