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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Party Affairs

The Work System of the New Hu Leadership

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Over the four months since the 17th Party Congress altered the lineup of the Party’s Politburo, public appearances by the new leadership have made clear how it has divided up responsibilities for the work of managing major sectors of policy. The resulting division of policy work also reveals a careful balancing of representation among major institutional constituencies on the Politburo, a hallmark technique introduced by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1980s to reinforce collective leadership in the oligarchy.

PRC-Tawain-United States

Taiwan Elections: Foundation for the Future

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The January Legislative Yuan elections in Taiwan demonstrated that, for better or worse, the Chen Shui-bian era is over. The rout of Chen’s Democratic Progressive Party by the opposition Kuomintang sent a clear message that the people of Taiwan were utterly dissatisfied with the government’s performance over the past eight years and that they rejected the politics of ideology. Whomever they choose in the March presidential election, it is obvious that the people of Taiwan—while rejecting unification with the Mainland today, anxious to participate actively in the international community, and resentful of steps taken by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to thwart virtually every effort by Taiwan to do so—are far more concerned about securing their future well-being and de facto independence than about pushing “principled” stands on the island’s de jure status. The nightmare scenarios that Beijing has conjured up about how Chen might declare an emergency and enforce “Taiwan independence” to perpetuate himself in office have little relevance to Taiwan’s reality in 2008.

The hard-fought presidential campaign, following the course of many Taiwan political contests, is being conducted in a manner that might offend the Marquis of Queensberry. But Taiwan voters seem largely unimpressed and retain their focus on the issues. The critical question facing all the relevant players after a new Taiwan leader takes office in May will be whether the two sides of the Strait can seize the opportunity presented by the change in Taipei—whoever is elected—to lay a new foundation for the future. If for any reason the parties miss the moment, they might well set in concrete a competitive and even confrontational cross-Strait structure that will deepen existing tensions, complicate U.S.-PRC relations, and continue to threaten the well-being of all concerned.

Military Affairs

The “Dawn of Heaven”?—A New Player in Sino-U.S. Mil-Mil

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Previous China Leadership Monitor articles have focused upon China’s significant deficiencies in crisis management and strategic signaling, and explored the role of military-to-military relations in either improving or exacerbating those problems. Often, the success or failure of those interactions is determined in part by the personalities involved. In the past year, there has been a sea change in the Chinese team responsible for these activities, in particular the replacement of longtime interlocutor and nemesis Xiong Guangkai with Ma Xiaotian and Chen Xiaogong. CLM 22 presented a fuller picture of Chen Xiaogong than previously available. This article is devoted to Ma Xiaotian.

Political Reform

A New Upsurge in Political Reform?—Maybe

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The 17th Party Congress called for continuing political reform, particularly at the grass roots. This appeal has been quickly followed by an important new book by the Central Party School that lays out a cautious but important blueprint for political changes over the next 15 years. This article focuses in particular on an important reform in one county in Sichuan Province, both because it may well have informed the thinking that went into the Party School report and because it raises important questions that remain unanswered both in the report and in the materials available on this county’s reforms.

The Provinces

Hu’s Southern Expedition: Changing Leadership in Guangdong

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hu Jintao’s power base has largely been centered in China’s inland provinces rather than in the country’s coastal areas. For most of the past decade, Guangdong, one of the wealthiest provinces in the country, was considered the turf of Jiang Zemin and his elitist coalition. China’s political landscape is, however, changing rapidly. Nowhere is this more evident than in Guangdong today, where all three of the top leadership posts have recently been transferred into the hands of Hu Jintao’s protégés. During the first two months of his tenure as the Party secretary in Guangdong, Wang Yang, Hu’s ally, launched a new wave of “thought emancipation,” urging local officials to break free of ideological and political taboos. Wang has also claimed that Guangdong should become a new experimental zone for bold political reforms that would be pioneered on behalf of the rest of the country. In a very real sense, Hu Jintao appears to be building his political power by launching a drive to “conquer” the south for the populist coalition so as to reform the nation’s politics. The ramifications of Hu’s “Southern Expedition,” if we can call it such, may therefore go far beyond factional gains or losses.

Economic Policy

SASAC and Rising Corporate Power in China

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Since the middle of 2007, a number of episodes have thrown light on the relationship between SASAC (the State Asset Supervision and Administration Commission) and the large and increasingly wealthy and powerful state-owned organizations that SASAC is entrusted to manage and “own.” The most important news has been the provisional implementation of SASAC’s long-standing program to harvest dividends from state-owned corporations. SASAC can claim some success in finally achieving a long-sought goal. However, the limited nature of the achievement also highlights the difficulty SASAC has in extending its authority and its reform agenda. A failed effort by China Eastern Airlines to bring in Singapore Airlines as a strategic investor provides a similar lesson. These episodes highlight the rising influence of powerful corporate groupings in China.

The Provinces

A Pivotal Stepping-Stone: Local Leaders’ Representation on the 17th Central Committee

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Besides their relatively young age, the six rising stars in the new Politburo—Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Yuanchao, Wang Qishan, Wang Yang, and Bo Xilai—have one important thing in common. They have all had leadership experience as provincial chiefs. An analysis of the career development of those members of the Politburo and Central Committee with local leadership experience can not only shed light on the primary pathway top Chinese politicians have trod to the pinnacle of power, but can also reveal a great deal about crucial issues such as center-province relations, the distribution of power between geographic regions, and the competition for policy initiatives between political factions.

Political Reform

The 17th Party Congress: Informal Politics and Formal Institutions

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was a significant milestone because the post-revolutionary generation had for the first time to sort out issues of succession and power distribution without the looming shadows of luminaries of the past. In general, they did fairly well. There appear to have evolved certain agreed-upon rules—including retirement and the distribution of posts in the Central Committee—that have, so far, confined conflict within certain institutional boundaries. Within these limits, however, there is evidence of a great deal of serious politics taking place. At least two important questions emerge from this. First, how will informal politics mesh with institutional rules? Second, if compromise and the distribution of benefits to different Party interests are the answer (as seems to have been the case at the 17th Party Congress), then will this system be able to respond quickly and effectively to crises?

Party Affairs

China’s New Party Leadership

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Chinese Communist Party’s 17th Congress consolidated the power and policy directions promoted by General Secretary Hu Jintao and strengthened his hand in managing leadership processes and in shaping future decisions about leadership appointments. The congress also followed precedent in initiating the process of preparing Hu’s successor, who is intended to take power in 2012–15. Finally, the congress continued the effort to institutionalize collective leadership decision-making among the Politburo oligarchy.

PRC-Tawain-United States

Cross-Strait Relations: In Search of Peace

by Alan D. Rombergvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The election campaigns in Taiwan continue to move along with all of the surprise twists and turns one might have predicted. The UN referendum issue continued to be a focus of much of the campaigning, given particular prominence by official American statements highlighting U.S. opposition to the DPP proposal to enter the UN “in the name of ‘Taiwan’” and by reactions to those statements from Chen Shui-bian and the candidates. In terms of cross-Strait relations, however, the recent development of greatest interest was General Secretary Hu Jintao’s moderate handling of Taiwan in his political report to the 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, and particularly his mention of a possible cross-Strait “peace agreement.” This went a considerable step beyond Jiang Zemin’s “eight-point proposal” for an agreement on “cessation of hostilities,” and it seemed to accord with KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou’s proposed “interim peace accord.”

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