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Foreign Policy

PRC Security Relations with the United States: Why Things Are Going So Well

by Thomas Christensenvia China Leadership Monitor
Thursday, October 30, 2003

My first contribution to China Leadership Monitor was completed 10 days before the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. In that essay, I laid out reasons for optimism and pessimism about trends in People's Republic of China (PRC) security relations with Taiwan, the United States, and U.S. allies in the region. If we apply the template laid out in that essay to the contemporary setting, it is quite clear that U.S.-PRC relations are more stable and constructive than they have been at any other time since the period prior to the Tiananmen massacre of June 4, 1989. In fact, on issues such as North Korea, Washington and Beijing are closer to the long-term goal of a security partnership, articulated by the Clinton administration, than anyone could have expected when the Bush administration first assumed office. The early months of 2001 saw tough rhetoric on China out of Washington and a brief crisis in bilateral relations following the collision of a People's Liberation Army (PLA) jet fighter and a U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance plane. Since fall 2001, however, relations have improved dramatically. There are still problems, of course. For example, there is still much improvement to be made on issues such as PRC weapons proliferation. That having been said, cooperation in the war on terrorism has been real, as I have outlined in previous editions of CLM. Beijing was also not very vocal in its opposition to the war in Iraq. Moreover, in the past several weeks Beijing has been extremely helpful to Washington in addressing the North Korean nuclear crisis and pressuring Pyongyang to accept a multilateral forum for negotiations. This cooperation has led to the assessment by Secretary of State Colin Powell that U.S.-PRC relations are at their most constructive "in decades." In this essay, I lay out the reasons for this basic turnaround in U.S.-PRC bilateral relations.

KOREAN BEEF: North Korea's Nuclear Weapons

with Peter Hayes, James Woolseyvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, October 16, 2003

In April 2003, North Korean officials admitted for the first time that their nation possessed the ability to build nuclear weapons. Many experts suggest that the possible possession of nuclear weapons by a so-called rogue state such as North Korea sets the stage for a far more serious conflict than the war with Iraq. Just how should the United States try to diffuse the Korean crisis? Can diplomatic efforts succeed where they have previously failed? Will the United States have to consider military options? And just what is North Korea hoping to accomplish by fomenting this crisis?

Kim Jong Il Must Go

by Henry S. Rowenvia Policy Review
Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Time to refocus U.S. policy on change in the North

Time to Leave South Korea

by Thomas H. Henriksenvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Why it makes sense for U.S. forces to leave Korea’s demilitarized zone. By Thomas Henriksen.

Military Affairs

Reduced Budgets, the "Two Centers," and Other Mysteries of the 2003 National People's Congress

by James Mulvenonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

As explored in my submission to CLM 3, the National People's Congress (NPC) meetings, particularly the publicized People's Liberation Army (PLA) delegate discussion sessions, are a consistently useful barometer of the state of party-army relations. This article examines the makeup of the military delegation, outlines the issues highlighted in PLA leaders' speeches and delegates' comments, and analyzes the announced defense budget. Special attention is paid to an article in Liberation Army Daily by Wang Wenjie, particularly a cryptic comment made by a PLA delegate about the problems posed by "two centers," which some analysts took as a criticism of the divided leadership of Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin.

Foreign Policy

PRC Foreign Relations after the National People's Congress: Iraq, North Korea, SARS, and Taiwan

by Thomas Christensenvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The National People's Congress (NPC) in mid-March produced all the major leadership outcomes predicted by experts on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) personnel issues: Hu Jintao, of course, became president of the People's Republic of China (PRC); Jiang Zemin maintained his powerful position as chair of the Central Military Commission (CMC); and, as long anticipated, Li Zhaoxing replaced Tang Jiaxuan as foreign minister. Tang was promoted to replace Qian Qichen in the role of party overseer of Chinese foreign policy, while trade negotiator Wu Yi will handle the trade portfolio and advise Tang. This lineup is exactly what was predicted by my interlocutors in Beijing in January. Although the NPC followed predicted paths, this outcome does not mean the event was unimportant to PRC foreign policy. On the contrary, China's behavior on the international stage has changed significantly since the NPC on two key issues for U.S.-China relations and China's role in the region: North Korea and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Although neither problem is close to being solved permanently, China adopted an about-face on both issues in the weeks after the NPC ended and the U.S.-led war in Iraq began. The military overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime in Baghdad and the passing of the NPC were, arguably, the two most important determinants of the new trends. Relations with Taiwan have been affected by Iraq, North Korea, SARS, and electoral politics in Taipei. Release of the anticipated "assessment" of cross-Strait relations—allegedly a road map for how to pursue gradually the development of direct air, shipping, and communications links (the "three links") across the Taiwan Strait—has been delayed by some combination of international and domestic factors relating to the March 2004 Taiwan presidential elections (for discussion of the assessment, see my entry in CLM 6).

Economic Policy

Government Reorganization: Liu Mingkang and Financial Restructuring

by Barry Naughtonvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The Chinese government was in the midst of a major reorganization when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic exploded upon Beijing. That reorganization will go forward, but the suspension of much government activity because of SARS highlights the fact that this ongoing reorganization is still far from complete. The long gestation reflects the powerful competing interests that are at stake. This article examines the creation of one new agency, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), and discusses the qualifications and personality of its head, Liu Mingkang. It uses the case of Liu to illustrate the emergence of a new kind of economic technocrat in China.

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by Alice L. Millervia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

North Korea’s determination to develop nuclear weapons is the greatest threat the United States now faces. Hoover fellow Alice Lyman Miller explains how—and why—the Bush administration must respond.

Political Reform

China's Response to SARS

by Joseph Fewsmithvia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

A month after severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) moved from a medical crisis—albeit one unacknowledged as such by the Chinese authorities—to a political crisis, it has become apparent that the disease will have a significant impact on China's political system, though one that is likely to be long-term rather than immediate. Although some have argued that SARS will be "China's Chernobyl," leading to far-reaching political change and perhaps democratization, others have maintained that the political system will simply absorb the impact and not change. Both judgments appear wide of the mark. Much more likely is that SARS will set off a variety of forces which the government will try to control, but which are going to be increasingly difficult to contain. It is still too early to draw strong conclusions about the impact of the SARS crisis, but some tentative conjectures about both elite politics and the longer-range implications can be hazarded.

The Provinces

Analysis of Current Provincial Leaders

by Cheng Livia China Leadership Monitor
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Understanding the provincial leaders' biographical backgrounds, tenure in office, political socialization, career patterns, and rate of reshuffling is essential to the study of Chinese politics. This study focuses on the 412 current top provincial leaders, a cluster of elites that includes all current provincial party secretaries, governors (or mayors of provincial-level administrations in the cities), deputy provincial party secretaries, and vice governors or vice mayors. These people are the most important political leaders at the provincial level in present-day China. Data for this study are based principally on official Chinese information that has recently become available to the public on the Internet. I have constructed a database on the biographies of these 412 top provincial leaders. Each biography includes 76 entries, which are indexed into eight major categories for analytical purposes. These categories are: 1) basic biographical information, 2) status of membership and position, 3) promotion patterns, 4) regional background, 5) reshuffling experience, 6) work experience, 7) educational background, and 8) political association and networks. This report focuses on the first three categories.