Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Spring 2022 Issue 71

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Politics and Norms in Leadership Reorganization toward the 20th Party Congress:
Preliminary Observations

Guoguang Wu
Tuesday, March 1, 2022

This essay investigates CCP dynamics with respect to the leadership reorganization at the forthcoming 20th Party Congress by exploring the following puzzle: Why was there no elite attempt to oppose Xi Jinping’s constitutional amendment for removing term limits for the PRC President in 2018, but recently Xi’s actualization of a third term seems to be meeting powerful resistance from those same elites? In emphasizing the interactions between party norms and elite politics, we highlight the norms revealed in the recent reorganization of provincial leaderships that took place in the winter 2021, and we argue that these norms have intensified the institutional dilemmas created by Xi’s 2018 constitutional amendment, and, accordingly, they have fueled intra-elite power struggles. Such struggles will become decisive during the summer of 2022, and Xi’s crackdown on elite resistance will, at that time, enter a higher stage.  

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Beijing’s Response to the Biden Administration’s China Policy

Ryan Hass 
Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Developments in the U.S.-China relationship over the past year suggest that both sides acknowledge there are not any simple fixes for neutralizing the other as its most formidable rival and competitor. Instead, both countries appear to be settling in for long-term competition. Going forward, Beijing likely will play to its strengths as it seeks to gain an edge over Washington and others. Beijing identifies its advantages as its growing economic gravity, its strengthening relationship with Russia, its expanding influence in much of the developing world, and its ability to offer solutions to other leaders who feel threatened by social instability. With the National Party Congress looming in Fall 2022, Beijing likely will focus in the coming year on addressing compounding challenges at home and geopolitical headwinds abroad. Recognizing the threats that Washington and other developed countries remain capable of posing to China’s continued rise, Beijing also will look for ways to minimize any damage in its relations as it works to maximize gains in overall influence in the rest of the world. How well China does in navigating this thicket of challenges will inform its ability to achieve its ambitions.   

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Four Questions Regarding the Chinese Economy

David Dollar 
Tuesday, March 1, 2022

China’s economy decelerated sharply toward the end of 2021 and at the start of the new year it was growing at about 4 percent.  But some easing of monetary policy and real estate regulations could move it closer to 5 percent.  With the all-important Party Congress scheduled for the end of the year, the leaders want steady growth but also stability.  The main headwinds are in COVID, real estate, policies toward the private sector, and trade.  The situation with the pandemic could become better (mRNAs boosters for the Chinese population) or worse (new variants resistant to Chinese vaccines).  On the one hand, in real estate, too much tightening could lead to a collapse in prices that results in panic selling and weakened household wealth and confidence.  On the other hand, Too much easing could reignite the bubble and lay a foundation for a larger financial crisis.  The regulatory crackdown could reach new sectors or leave most of the private economy untouched. In trade, the risk is a re-acceleration of the U.S. trade war, and too weak of a global economy to make up for the re-acceleration by trade with other partners.  All in all, it makes for a year of dangerous growth.  

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A Tale of Three Resolutions: A Close Reading of Xi Jinping’s Version of CCP History

Minxin Pei
Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The 6th plenum of the CCP Central Committee in November 2021 passed a landmark resolution on the party’s one hundred years of history. While the document briefly reviews the party’s 91 years of existence before the rise of Xi Jinping, it devotes more than half of its space to an affirmation of Xi’s policies during the last nine years.  The timing of the resolution, its effusive praise of Xi’s record, and its elevation of Xi’s stature are intended to strengthen his case for extending his term in office.  The resolution is thus more a work of political advocacy than of historical revisionism.  The language of the resolution also provides important clues about Xi’s ideological beliefs and conception of his stature in the party.  The sections in the resolution on foreign policy vigorously endorse Xi’s approach, and their defiant tone suggests a continuation of Xi’s current policy.  However, the same evidence of Xi’s political dominance can also be interpreted as reflective of concerns within the party about the direction of the party under his leadership.

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CLM Insights Interview with Peter Martin on his recent book:

China’s Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy

(Oxford University Press, 2021)