China Leadership Monitor

The Party Transition: Will It Bring a New Maturity in Chinese Security Policy?

Thursday, January 30, 2003

This essay addresses three questions relating to the 16th Party Congress. First, what do the power transition and the new lineup of leaders mean for the prospect for future flexibility and new thinking in Beijing on key security issues important to U.S.-China relations: Taiwan, the war on terrorism, Iraq and the U.N. Security Council, weapons proliferation, North Korea, etc.? Second, what evidence exists of new thinking more broadly in the younger generations of Chinese foreign policy elites (35-60 years old) who are replacing the generation of Jiang Zemin, Qian Qichen, and retiring generals such as Chi Haotian and Zhang Wannian? Third, what role do these changes play, if any, in the marked recent warming trends in relations between Washington and Beijing?