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China, One Year Later

China, One Year Later

In November 2012, seven men were appointed to the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s supreme governing body. At the time, economic headwinds, nationalist protests, and the Bo Xilai scandal presented huge challenges for the regime. Would the charismatic new president, Xi Jinping, and his reform-minded premier, Li Keqiang, live up to comparisons to Deng Xiaoping and Zhu Rongji, or would “China’s Century” be over before it had begun? It still may be too early to say, but a year later the Xi-Li regime has consolidated power and support within the party. Major pushes against corruption, bribery, and graft have been made. Economic reforms, including a new free trade zone in Shanghai, are well underway, and the sharp dip in growth of the past two years seems to have stabilized. Xi has worked to repair relations with China’s neighbors, which had been tarnished under Hu Jintao.

Even so, those who hope for reforms to China’s approach to civil and human rights have yet to see substantial progress. Xi’s “Chinese Dream” policy remains vague, and income inequality is staggeringly high. Furthermore, maritime disputes and the nationalist tone of Xi’s rhetoric have made imminent reconciliation with countries including Japan and the Philippines appear unlikely.

Nearly a year to the day after the seven leaders ascended to their posts, as a part of the Asia: Beyond the Headlines event series Asia Society held a special conversation with The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos; Dr. Susan Shirk of the University of California, San Diego; Former Ambassador to China J. Stapleton Roy; and moderator Orville Schell, who discussed China’s leadership transition so far—its successes, shortcomings, and controversies—as well as what the future may have in store for Zhongnanhai, China, and the world.

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Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy is Founding Director Emeritus of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center. He retired from the Foreign Service in 2001 after a career...
Susan L. Shirk is the chair of the 21st Century China Program and Research Professor of Political Science at the School of Global Policy & Strategy (GPS) at UC San Diego.  She also is director...
Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008. He is a correspondent in Washington, D.C. who writes about politics and foreign affairs. His book Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth,...
Orville Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York. He is a former professor and Dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate...

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