Q. and A.: China’s Leadership Transition and Xi Jinping

Sometime soon, perhaps next month, most populous nation in the world will begin its biggest leadership transition in a decade. Dozens of most senior positions in China’s Communist Party, government and army will change hands in a process that will last months (in the case of the army, perhaps even years). Here are some questions+ answers about this important event. Join the conversation with your own answers and questions in Comments below. Q. What does this massive shift in power in world’s second-biggest economy, a nuclear power has territorial disputes with many neighbors, mean for the world? In the face of a persistently secretive political system such as China’s, that’s a question cannot be answered with certainty. And no, it’s not because foreigners don’t get it: Chinese are equally in the dark. A best bet, at this point, would be that the change may mean less than you would expect. China’s rulers, while often suspicious of one another’s motives, do work from consensus. Right now, that consensus is clear in an area that matters most to leadership: continuing economic growth. Another issue that’s clear: China’s leaders remain convinced the party is the only organization that can run China. Q. Who will be in charge? The man everyone is looking at is Xi Jinping, the 59-year-old heir presumptive to triumvirate of posts that China’s top leader holds: general secretary of the party, president and chairman of Central Military Commission. The son of a storied revolutionary, Mr. Xi is also a soccer fan, who indicated in February on a state visit to Ireland that he was in despair at parlous state of soccer in China where corruption scandals chronically engulf the sport. He is liked by many Chinese and foreigners who have met him privately. This story by my colleague Edward Wong gives you a flavor of the man. And this Wikileaks cable from the American embassy in Beijing shows a man who is “exceptionally ambitious, confident and focused” as well as “supremely pragmatic and a realist,” interested in the Buddhism, who also believes “rule by a dedicated and committed Communist Party leadership is the key to enduring social stability and national strength” (…..) 

Q. What do you think China’s new leadership means for China and for the world? What did you make of Mr. Xi’s mysterious disappearance? Write in and we’ll talk more



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Consultor Internacional

4 Responses to Q. and A.: China’s Leadership Transition and Xi Jinping

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: China is a golden opportunity for the US in the 21st century. It is a win-win situation for both super powers. US based transnational companies are the main foreign investors in China while Chinese consumers are eager to acquire high quality goods produced by those companies. Apple is the latest success story in the highly competitive Chinese market. Besides, American know how in high education is highly prized by the Chinese elite seeking state of art learning for their children. Thus, as far as trade and investments are concerned, relations between Washington and Beijing should be booming in the next few decades. Both economies are highly complementary in this new century. The ONLY drawback in the bilateral relation is how Washington reacts to China’s military rise. The Asia Pacific area no longer belongs to the US as the supremo power. The question is: how does the political right wing and the military industrial complex react to the new reality? pacific coexistence or low level conflict? for sure, China in the 21st century is not Japan of the 20th. century. Besides, if Vietnam was complicated to deal with, can one imagine China?


  2. President Obama’s complex relationship with China began with hope and accommodation but fell into disillusionment after Beijing started flexing its muscles on trade and military questions and proved to be a truculent partner on a variety of global issues. As Mr. Obama runs for re-election, his tougher line toward Beijing is showing itself on several fronts. The White House has filed two major cases in the past three months against China at the World Trade Organization, both of which Mr. Obama promoted to autoworkers in the Rust Belt. On the same day as the latest trade action, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced plans in Tokyo to help Japan deploy a new missile-defense system, which has aroused suspicion in Beijing. With Mitt Romney charging that Mr. Obama has not stood up enough to Chinese leaders, China has suddenly become a focal point in the presidential campaign, one that encompasses both security and economic concerns and puts to the test the president’s management of this complex relationship. The most consequential foreign policy initiative of Mr. Obama’s presidency could end being the shift of American focus from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to the Pacific Rim, where the United States has shored up alliances with Japan and South Korea, opened the door to Myanmar, and sent Marines to Australia. While the new focus has rattled allies in Europe, the emergence of a counterweight to a rising China has been greeted with enthusiasm in Asia. As my colleagues Thom Shanker and Ian Johnson reported, Mr. Panetta said during his trip that the U.S. change in posture was not aimed at containing China. Read my article explaining Barack Obama’s evolution to a tougher stance on China and come back and comment on Rendezvous.


  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: “As Mr. Obama runs for re-election, his tougher line toward Beijing is showing itself on several fronts”, says the NYT. Really? the French expression ‘pour la galerie ‘ defines well this new tough line by the Obama administration in relation to China.


  4. (…..) To some extent, Mr. Obama’s learning curve on China parallels his early outreach to Iran: an initial hope that old adversaries could put aside their differences, followed by a jolting recognition of reality and the ultimate adoption of a realpolitik approach. The difference, officials argue, is that in this case the tougher line has led not to stalemate but to a constructive give-and-take with a country bound to rub up against the United States. “Despite it all, China has been an increasingly responsible actor on Iran,” said James B. Steinberg, a former deputy secretary of state who made a number of trips to Beijing to air American concerns. “Despite some wobbles, they’ve played a positive role in constraining North Korea at times of crisis.”

    The president’s Asia agenda, however, raises many questions. With deep cuts in the military budget looming, critics question whether the United States has the money to back up its words.

    A Pentagon preoccupied by Afghanistan and Iraq has done little planning to shift troops or ships — so little, in fact, that a Navy commander was called to the White House for his first meeting after Mr. Obama had already laid out the broader strategy. America’s eastward shift has left the Chinese deeply suspicious of American motives, with some analysts in China arguing that the United States is trying to encircle the country. For all the talk of give-and-take, the Chinese rebuffed Mrs. Clinton during her recent visit to Beijing when she raised the disputes over the South China Sea. “The Chinese feel a bit whiplashed,” said Michael J. Green, an Asia policy maker in the administration of George W. Bush who is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The hope and change of the first year, followed by the sharp-edged push-back of the second year, all of this, to the Chinese, looks like gross inconsistency and unpredictability.” It is little surprise that Mr. Obama would look east. The president’s Asia, however, lies not on the wind-swept ramparts of the Great Wall of China but in the tropical swelter of Singapore and Indonesia. He identifies more with the languid rhythms of Jakarta, aides say, than with the crackling energy of Shanghai. An adviser recalled a breakfast at a summit meeting in Toronto in 2010 that Mr. Obama shared with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, which was so relaxed and serene that afterward the president’s hyperactive chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, told him, “Now I see what your Asianness is about.” Despite his preferences, Mr. Obama was determined not to antagonize China when he ran for president in 2008. Unlike Mr. Clinton, who referred to China’s leaders as the “butchers of Beijing” in 1992, Mr. Obama said little about China, and his thin record on foreign policy left few clues for the Chinese to size him up (…..)



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