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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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.

The Provinces

From Selection to Election?—Experiments in the Recruitment of Chinese Political Elites

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Are elections playing an important role in Chinese politics today? The simple answer is no. Is China gradually moving from selection to election in the recruitment of political elites? That is a more difficult question to answer. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is certainly unwilling to give up its monopoly on political power. Chinese leaders continue to claim, explicitly rather than implicitly, that the CCP is entitled to make all of the country’s most important personnel appointments. But since the late 1990s, especially in recent years, the Chinese authorities have experimented with electoral methods in the selection and confirmation of Party and government officials at various levels of leadership. With a focus on both intra-Party and people’s congress elections, this article offers a preliminary assessment of elections in China—their significance and limitations, and their impact on the Chinese political process.

Military Affairs

The Party Holds The Ring: Civil-Military Relations and Olympic Security

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The 2008 Beijing Olympics is China’s debut as a global power, and the Beijing leadership made it clear that it wanted everything to go perfectly. After the riots and crackdown in Tibet, protests around the Olympic torch, and bombings in Xinjiang, however, pressure on the security apparatus to fulfill the leadership’s wishes was intense. This article examines the role of the People’s Liberation Army’s in ensuring Olympic security, and assesses the implications of the security command structure for civil-military relations.

PRC-Tawain-United States

After the Taiwan Election: Restoring Dialogue while Reserving Options

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The landslide victory scored by KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou and the resounding defeat of the referenda calling for application to the UN have meant that Ma took office with a mandate to implement his ambitious agenda to reinvigorate the economy, restore mutual trust with the United States, and establish a broad range of relationships with the Mainland on the basis of the “1992 Consensus.” Beijing was especially relieved by the defeat of the referenda, and it welcomed the return of the KMT to power. PRC president Hu Jintao’s labeled the strikingly new situation as an “historic opportunity,” and in a dramatic step Hu met personally with vice president–elect Vincent Siew before the 20 May Taipei inauguration. The quasi-official dialogue between Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Mainland’s Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) was restored in mid-June, and early progress was achieved on some of the “easier” issues previously negotiated and ready for resolution.

Nevertheless, signs of caution quickly crept into the Mainland’s discussion of future cross-Strait developments, and a concerning degree of hesitation is now being voiced in the Mainland about Ma and the ambitiousness of his overall cross-Strait program. In signs of what one might characterize as “buyer’s remorse” about presidential and referendum outcomes that were universally hailed ahead of time as the “best possible” combined result, a level of ruefulness is being expressed by some people about what going too far with Ma now could mean for the question of ultimate reunification.

The Provinces

Ethnic Minority Elites in China’s Party-State Leadership: An Empirical Assessment

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Recent uprisings across Tibetan regions of China as well as purported terror plots planned by Uighur separatists seeking independence for Xinjiang have highlighted the challenges that the Chinese Communist Party faces in governing a Han-dominant but multiethnic China. How China handles the “nationalities question” will be a crucial determinant of social stability going forward. Chinese top leaders have long recognized the value to the Party of having ethnic minority cadres among the Party-state elites, both for propaganda purposes as well as to inspire minority peoples to view the system as containing opportunities for their own advancement. Yet the Party has also maintained a firm grip on power in the ethnic minority-dominant political units by appointing ethnic Hans to the most important positions. An understanding of the changing role of ethnic minorities in Chinese politics is essential for comprehending the dynamics of China’s rapidly transforming political landscape.

Military Affairs

The Chinese Military’s Earthquake Response Leadership Team

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On 12 May, China was rocked by a 7.9 earthquake, epicentered just north of Chengdu in Sichuan Province. The People’s Liberation Army was quickly mobilized to deal with the national disaster, as it has been throughout the PRC’s history. This article examines the military leadership team involved in the earthquake rescue and recovery operation, assessing the implications of the natural disaster for the PLA’s domestic image, civil-military relations, and international posture.

Party Affairs

Xi Jinping and the Party Apparatus

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In the six months since the 17th Party Congress, Xi Jinping’s public appearances indicate that he has been given the task of day-to-day supervision of the Party apparatus. This role will allow him to expand and consolidate his personal relationships up and down the Party hierarchy, a critical opportunity in his preparation to succeed Hu Jintao as Party leader in 2012. In particular, as Hu Jintao did in his decade of preparation prior to becoming top Party leader in 2002, Xi presides over the Party Secretariat. Traditionally, the Secretariat has served the Party’s top policy coordinating body, supervising implementation of decisions made by the Party Politburo and its Standing Committee. For reasons that are not entirely clear, Xi’s Secretariat has been significantly trimmed to focus solely on the Party apparatus, and has apparently relinquished its longstanding role in coordinating decisions in several major sectors of substantive policy.

Economic Policy

The Inflation Battle: Juggling Three Swords

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Inflation has once again become a serious problem in China. While the government’s quick and effective response to the Wenchuan earthquake reassured Chinese citizens and helped consolidate support for the government and the current administration, inflation presents the opposite image of the regime. In China, inflation causes political failure. It contributes to a subjective feeling of instability and may also lead to erosion in living standards for some segments of society. Historically, inflation in China is strongly associated with a government that is losing control and with the prospect of social disorder. To fight inflation, the government has three potential weapons: tighter monetary and fiscal policy; RMB appreciation; and price controls. Facing enormous economic uncertainty and unprecedented natural disasters, the government has vacillated among these three approaches. There is no immediate prospect of breaking out of this triangular trap.

Political Reform

What Happened in Maliu Township?

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Often the pressures that generate political reforms—and the limits to those reforms—are best viewed at the local level, which is why this column has explored so many instances of local reform. In this issue, we look at Maliu Township, a poor township in Chongqing Municipality that rose to at least local fame by adopting the so-called “Eight-Step Work Method,” which introduced popular participation in decision making and oversight. But as the local political economy changed—specifically as the impact of the abolition of the agricultural taxes has been felt—it has been difficult to sustain this innovation.

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