Susan Shirk on the High Stakes of China’s Leadership Change

The High Stakes of China’s Leadership Transition

Date: November 14, 2012
Susan Shirk, The Atlantic

Susan Shirk

Just a little more than a week after the American presidential election, China will choose its own leaders in its own highly secretive way entirely inside the Communist Party. What’s at stake for China–and for the rest of the world–is not just who will fill which leadership posts until 2022 (two five year terms are the norm) but whether, ten years from now, the Communist Party itself will still rule China.

Most of the overseas reporting about the turnover has focused on predicting the line-up of new leaders and trying to anticipate in what direction they will take the country. This is a near impossible task because the aspirants have hidden their policy views to avoid making mistakes that could derail their ambitions. But there are some structural features of the turnover in plain sight and are just as consequential for China’s future. The politicians who lead the party are crafting the process to save the Party and protect their own interests as well. Here is a short guide to a few of the hard choices China’s current leaders will be making in this week’s selection process.

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Click here to read the full article in Chinese.

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Susan Shirk is the chair of the 21st Century China Program and Ho Miu Lam Professor of China and Pacific Relations at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) at UC San Diego. She also is director emeritus of the University of California system-wide Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC) and chair of the IGCC International Advisory Board.

In 1993, she founded, and continues to lead, the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD), an unofficial “track-two” forum for discussions of security issues among defense and foreign ministry officials and academics from the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and the Koreas.

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