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Too Busy to Worry about Democracy

by Niall Fergusonvia Hoover Digest
Monday, January 30, 2006

The Chinese are too busy getting rich to worry about democracy. But when China suffers a recession, watch out. By Niall Ferguson.

Economic Policy

Waves of Criticism: Debates over Bank Sales to Foreigners and Neo-Liberal Economic Policy

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Monday, January 30, 2006

Financial reform policies have moved ahead rapidly in the last year. At the same time, a mood of disillusionment within Chinese society has been seized upon by critics of reform. General criticisms of "neo-liberal" policies worldwide have fed into specific criticisms of the practice of selling shares in state-owned banks to foreign financial institutions. Vigorous debate has been joined, but thus far, the debate has had limited impact on economic policymaking, which is still dominated by technocrats. However, the official sponsorship of such "leftist" critiques has contributed to increased tension in Chinese leadership politics generally.

Political Reform

Promotion of Qiu He Raises Questions about Direction of Reform

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Sunday, January 1, 2006

For the last two years, the Chinese media have widely discussed the "Qiu He phenomenon," attempting to understand the significance of a local county party secretary's using autocratic methods to jump-start the economy of Jiangsu's poorest county. The party secretary, Qiu He, has been both praised and criticized. But now he has also been promoted to vice governor of the wealthy province of Jiangsu, and at 50 years of age he could rise farther in China's political system. Promotions to vice governor rarely raise eyebrows, but the significance of Qiu's promotion has been widely discussed. Known as an "official with personality," Qiu stands out among the ranks of China's generally staid bureaucracy, and his rise prompts speculation about what types of officials might be promoted under Hu Jintao and what this means for the building of institutions in China.

China’s Quest for Asia

by John J. Tkacik Jr., Dana Dillonvia Policy Review
Thursday, December 1, 2005

Beijing fills a vacuum

Foreign Policy

Will China Become a "Responsible Stakeholder"?—The Six Party Talks, Taiwan Arms Sales, and Sino-Japanese Relations

by Thomas Christensenvia China Leadership Monitor
Sunday, October 30, 2005

In recent months, China's security policy has enjoyed significant successes. Relations with the United States have improved, particularly on issues related to North Korea. The mainland's generally relaxed approach toward Taiwan apparently has also paid dividends for Beijing by helping to solidify domestic resistance in Taipei to the purchase of weapons systems on offer from the United States since April 2001. Beijing, however, still has dangerously tense relations with Japan over disputed maritime claims that have implications for energy resource exploitation and control of sea lines of communication. These disputes, especially in the context of tensions over Japan's treatment of its wartime history, threaten to destabilize great power relations in the region and undercut China's efforts to promote itself as a power whose rise will only bring peace to East Asia.

High Hopes—and High Anxiety

by John Raisianvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, October 30, 2005

Economic growth and prosperity in East Asia have proven stupendous, yet security in the region represents a perennial worry. How Washington should navigate the tricky geometry of the Asian Triangle. By John Raisian.

The False Promise of Autocratic Stability

by Michael McFaulvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, October 30, 2005

He rules Uzbekistan with an iron fist, and now he’s cozying up to Russia and China. Why it’s time for the United States to wash its hands of Islam Karimov. By Michael McFaul.

Political Reform

Chambers of Commerce in Wenzhou and the Potential Limits of "Civil Society" in China

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Sunday, October 30, 2005

Wenzhou is famous for its thriving private economy. Less well known is the growth of chambers of commerce and other trade associations there. These organizations are changing the structures by which China is governed and policy is made. Chambers of commerce have done much to promote quality standards within industry and maintain Wenzhou's competitiveness. Though these groups have brought about new forms of state-society accommodation, they have not challenged party rule. On the contrary, they are another manifestation of the emergence of a new political-economic elite which broadly agrees on many issues.

Party Affairs

Hu's in Charge?

by Alice L. Millervia China Leadership Monitor
Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee's Fifth Plenum opened amid a swirl of rumors that a major shift in high level party appointments was in the works. Party General Secretary Hu Jintao had finally assumed the array of top leadership positions held by his predecessor Jiang Zemin, and was expected to begin promoting allies onto the party Politburo and dismantling Jiang's power base in Shanghai. Yet the plenum closed without making any changes in official appointments, inviting basic questions both about Hu Jintao's power and, more broadly, about the dynamics of leadership politics in China today.

Economic Policy

The New Common Economic Program: China's 11th Five Year Plan and What It Means

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Sunday, October 30, 2005

China's New 11th Five Year Plan proposals are remarkable, both for what they contain, and for how they were created. The proposals set few quantitative targets and no specific industrial policies or programs. Instead, they present a program for government action designed to ensure that rapid growth will be sustainable over the long term, and that the fruits of growth will be more equitably shared. The document was drawn up through a broadly consultative—but also tightly scripted—process. However, its recommendations are broad and abstract, and in many cases specific policies needed to implement the recommendations do not exist. Both the Plan and the manner in which it was drawn up are highly characteristic of the Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao administration. As such, the plan should be seen as this administration's economic program.