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Showing posts for "Political Reform"

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 »

The 18th Party Congress: A Setback for President Hu?

by Yanzhong Huang
China's President Hu Jintao claps as he arrives for the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 3, 2011. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters). China's President Hu Jintao claps as he arrives for the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 3, 2011. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters).

Two days after the U.S. presidential election, 2270 delegates will gather in Beijing for the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Congress. The meeting will not only select a new generation of leaders but will also endorse the Party’s new political agenda. After being hit by a slew of scandals, the Communist Party is doing all it can to make sure all “unstable elements” are nipped in the bud. Security is tight not just in Beijing but also in other parts of China.  I heard stories of the police stopping cars in a southern province to search for knives. When one of the drivers dared to ask why, he was simply told “shiba da” (18th Party Congress). Read more »

The ‘New York Times’ Takedown of Wen Jiabao and What It Means

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's Premier Wen Jiabao attends the second plenary meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing on March 8, 2012. China's Premier Wen Jiabao attends the second plenary meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing on March 8, 2012. (Jason Lee / Courtesy Reuters)

No doubt about it, David Barboza of the New York Times has achieved a journalistic coup. His deep dive into the financial wherewithal of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s family exposed a total net worth of a staggering $2.7 billion. Other journalists, of course, have investigated the family holdings of other Chinese leaders: a team of Bloomberg reporters broke the secrecy barrier with reports on the wealth of Bo Xilai’s family and last June published an in-depth look into the burgeoning financial holdings—almost $400 million—of soon-to-be Chinese president Xi Jinping’s extended family. Frankly, anyone who spends much time in China knows about the oligarchic nature of the Chinese elite, but the extent and distribution of the Wen family wealth is eye-opening. Read more »

Will the Real Chinese Leaders Please Stand Up?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's Guangdong Province Party Secretary Wang Yang (R) smiles next to Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang at the second plenary meeting of the National People's Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 8, 2012. China's Guangdong Province Party Secretary Wang Yang (R) smiles next to Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang at the second plenary meeting of the National People's Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 8, 2012. (Jason Lee / Reuters)

For more than two decades beginning in 1956, CBS and then NBC aired a television show “To Tell the Truth,” in which a panel of celebrities attempted to identify which one of three contestants was telling the truth about who he/she was. I always found the show rather painfully gripping as I waited for the final reveal, when the host would ask, “Would the real [so and so] please stand up?”  Read more »

Chinese Officials Risk Public Confidence in Xi Jinping Mystery

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Current Vice President Xi Jinping reads a statement as President Hu Jintao (L) and parliament chief Wu Bangguo listen during the 11th National People's Congress in Beijing on March 11, 2008. Current Vice President Xi Jinping reads a statement as President Hu Jintao (L) and parliament chief Wu Bangguo listen during the 11th National People's Congress in Beijing on March 11, 2008. (Claro Cortes IV / Courtesy Reuters)

Colonel Brian Killough is U.S. Air Force Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The approaching change in leadership from President Hu Jintao to Vice President Xi Jinping seemed to be going smoothly until the vice president started missing high-level meetings. Since then, rumors have been flying over the causes for the missed meetings. These rumors include a back injury, a car wreck, a heart attack, and a minor stroke. On the other hand, another source claims that Xi Jinping is in good health but is “orchestrating unprecedented political reforms.” Read more »

China’s Olympic Debate

by Elizabeth C. Economy
China's Feng Zhe, the eventual gold medal winner, reacts after competing in the men's gymnastics parallel bars final during the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 7, 2012. China's Feng Zhe, the eventual gold medal winner, reacts after competing in the men's gymnastics parallel bars final during the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 7, 2012. (Brian Snyder / Courtesy Reuters)

The Chinese stand second in the Olympic medals table—both in gold and overall—but you would never know it from what’s going on in their media. Of course, there is celebration of the country’s athletes. Yet the flawless performances of the Chinese divers and spectacular achievements of the Chinese male gymnasts are in danger of being drowned out by a torrent of commentary focused on what the games mean for China as a society and for its place in the world.  Some of the commentary is lamenting, some angry, and still other searching.

Read more »

Will China Continue to “Turn Against Law”?

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Li Keqiang, right, shakes hands with China's Politburo Standing Committee Member Zhou Yongkang after Li was elected Vice Premier in Beijing on March 17, 2008. Li Keqiang, right, shakes hands with China's Politburo Standing Committee Member Zhou Yongkang after Li was elected Vice Premier in Beijing on March 17, 2008. (Jason Lee / Courtesy Reuters)

Mark Jia is an intern for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

As speculation brims over China’s impending leadership succession, focus has centered on the political leanings of Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, seniors leaders who are expected to secure the top posts in the Politburo’s all-powerful Standing Committee this fall. However, recent Party machinations over another committee position, the one that oversees the country’s legal and security institutions, offer potentially more revealing clues into China’s prospects for future reform. Read more »