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Showing posts for "Political Reform"

Responding to Disease Outbreaks: Is China’s Move Toward Greater Transparency Irreversible?

by Yanzhong Huang
Passengers walk past temperature detectors. Passengers walk past temperature detectors. (Stringer Taiwan/Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday, I testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) at the  “Food and Drug Safety, Public Health, and the Environment in China” hearing. My testimony focused on China’s response to public health emergencies. As the H7N9 virus appears to be burning itself out, the consensus among public health scholars and practitioners is that China has been much more transparent and open in handing this outbreak than it was in 2003 during the SARS epidemic. In fact, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan thanked China for their speed in sharing relevant information. Read more »

China’s Environmental Politics: A Game of Crisis Management

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Police officers stand guard as residents raise a banner to protest against a planned refinery in Kunming, Yunnan province, on May 4, 2013. Police officers stand guard as residents raise a banner to protest against a planned refinery in Kunming, Yunnan province, on May 4, 2013. (Wong Campion/Courtesy Reuters)

Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province, has become the latest city in China to be rocked by environmental protest. On May 4 and then again on May 16, 1,000 to 2,000 protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against the construction of an oil and chemical refinery in the nearby city of Anning by the state-run oil company China National Petroleum Corporation. Read more »

The Dalai Lama’s Self-Immolation Dilemma

by Yanzhong Huang
Portraits of Tibetans who killed themselves in self-immolation are seen behind candles in a candlelight vigil. Portraits of Tibetans who killed themselves in self-immolation are seen behind candles in a candlelight vigil. (Pichi Chuang/Reuters)

Beginning in February 2009, a number of self-immolation incidents have occurred in the greater Tibetan region in China. Since then, at least 116 Tibetan monks and farmers have chosen to set themselves on fire. Read more »

The China Model and Democracy

by Joshua Kurlantzick
China's newly-elected premier Li Keqiang smiles as he takes questions during a news conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing March 17, 2013. China's newly-elected premier Li Keqiang smiles as he takes questions during a news conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing March 17, 2013 (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters).

The new Chinese leadership, including premier Li Keqiang, have at least rhetorically recognized that China’s future development depends on further economic, social, and political reforms. In his first major speech as premier, Li said, “Reforming is about curbing government power … It is a self-imposed revolution that will require real sacrifice, and it will be painful.” Read more »

Dead Pigs in Shanghai: Failing Food Safety Regulations

by Yanzhong Huang
A villager cuts meat from a dead pig in the Zhulin village of Jiaxing March 12, 2013. A villager cuts meat from a dead pig in the Zhulin village of Jiaxing March 12, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, thousands of dead pigs were discovered floating in the Huangpu River, which supplies drinking water to Shanghai’s 23 million residents. As of Tuesday evening, sanitation workers have retrieved nearly 6,000 carcasses from the river. The municipal authorities insist that the city’s water supply has not been contaminated, but they did admit that the dead pigs have tested positive for the PCV virus (which causes a sometimes fatal pig disease) as well as other pathogens, including foot and mouth disease (FMD), swine fever, hog cholera, and blue-ear pig disease. Initial investigations have also identified Jiaxing, a city in the neighboring Zhejiang province, as the origin of the dead pigs. Read more »

Desperately Seeking Xi Jinping

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's Communist Party chief Xi Jinping looks on during his meeting with U.N. General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 27, 2012. China's Communist Party chief Xi Jinping looks on during his meeting with U.N. General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 27, 2012. (Wang Zhao/Reuters)

When a noted American columnist wrote recently that he expected Xi Jinping to spur real reform because reform is “in his genes,” I realized just how desperate we had become. In fact, the sound of speculation around Xi has become deafening. Even though he will not formally assume the presidency of China until March, Xi’s every utterance is now being fed into an evolving Xi Jinping narrative. The reality, however, is that we know very little of Xi’s actual policy proclivities save his desire for a more informal and direct style of governance and a Communist Party that is corruption-free. Read more »

Leadership Transition in China: A New Beginning or the Beginning of the End?

by Yanzhong Huang
In this handout photo released by TaKungPao.com on December 10, 2012, China's Vice President Xi Jinping (L) plants a tree on Lianhua hill in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, December 8, 2012 (TaKungPao.com/Courtesy Reuters). In this handout photo released by TaKungPao.com on December 10, 2012, China's Vice President Xi Jinping (L) plants a tree on Lianhua hill in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, December 8, 2012 (TaKungPao.com/Courtesy Reuters).

After the presentation of the fifth generation of communist party leaders in China, my colleague Liz Economy noted that the 18th Party Congress was a victory for the Party’s conservative clique in terms of personnel and policy. Liz was certainly not the only leading China hand who thought that the Party Congress was a heartbreaker. A former US government official recently even said to me that the late Hu Jintao era (which officially ends in March 2013) could be “the beginning of the end.” Many Chinese scholars were equally disappointed.  At a roundtable discussion held on November 16, Zi Zhongyun said that she felt “upset and hopeless” with the results of the Party Congress.  Another leading Chinese public intellectual even suggested that the Party might not be able to make it to the 20th Congress. Read more »

Xi Jinping’s Three Easy Steps to a Clean China

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's newly appointed leader Xi Jinping attends a meeting with foreign experts at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 5, 2012. China's newly appointed leader Xi Jinping attends a meeting with foreign experts at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 5, 2012. (Ed Jones/Courtesy Reuters)

Xi Jinping has one over-riding political mandate: clean up corruption or clear out. Corruption and its manifestations are at the heart of the Party’s greatest challenges: its glaring lack of legitimacy; one hundred eighty thousand mass demonstrations annually by most recent count; and an outflow of money through corruption, crime, and tax evasion as high as $3.72 trillion over the past decade. Is Xi up to the task? Read more »

China’s New Leaders: No Reform Dream Team

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's new Politburo Standing Committee members Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Yu Zhengsheng and Wang Qishan, line up as they meet with press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 15, 2012. China's new Politburo Standing Committee members Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Yu Zhengsheng and Wang Qishan, line up as they meet with press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 15, 2012. (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters)

Let’s face it. China’s 18th Party Congress was a heartbreaker. In terms of personnel, it was a triumph of the Party’s conservative clique; and in terms of policy, it was a victory for more of the same. It didn’t have to be that way, but the Party elders elected to preserve their legacy at the expense of opening the door to real change. The candidates for the Politburo Standing Committee with the strongest reform credentials—Li Yuanchao and Wang Yang—were left high and dry, while those who anchor the “hold back change at all cost” wing of the Party—Zhang Dejiang and Liu Yunshan—took their place among the top seven. Read more »

Hu Jintao’s Legacy of Danger and Opportunity for Xi Jinping

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's President Hu Jintao talks to Vice President Xi Jinping after the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 13, 2009. China's President Hu Jintao talks to Vice President Xi Jinping after the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 13, 2009. (Alfred Cheng Jin/Courtesy Reuters)

Now that the U.S. presidential election has concluded, the world’s attention is turning to China. November 8 marks the opening of the 18th Party Congress, China’s version of a political convention at which all the top Communist Party leaders will be announced. While we won’t be treated to the sight of hundreds of millions of Chinese turning out at their local schools and senior citizen centers to vote—although the American Embassy in Beijing did host an invitation-only mock U.S. election for Chinese citizens—the suspense is almost as great. Read more »