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Why Is China Purging Its Former Top Security Chief, Zhou Yongkang?

Why Is China Purging Its Former Top Security Chief, Zhou Yongkang?

A ChinaFile Conversation

Pin Ho:

[Zhou Yongkang’s downfall] is the second chapter of the “Bo Xilai Drama”—a drama begun at the 18th Party Congress. The Party’s power transition has been secret and has lacked convincing procedure. This [lack of transparency] has triggered unimaginably huge debates within the Party. Every retiring Politburo Standing member has been trying hard to pick their own successors. Zhou Yongkang picked Bo Xilai as the Secretary of Political and Legal Affairs. There was a hidden attempt behind this arrangement—a challenge to Xi Jinping’s power. Now, the Party is done with Bo Xilai and has started to handle Zhou Yongkang.

Xi Jinping plans to use Zhou Yongkang as a sacrifice in his anti-corruption campaign. If Xi failed to break the unwritten rule that the Politburo Standing members are immune to any legal punishment, his anti-corruption would have no teeth. Zhou Yongkang’s corruption has been well-known and people both inside and outside of the Party hate him. Thus, he has become the best tool to build up Xi Jinping’s power.

Responses

Richard McGregor

Richard McGregor is Washington Bureau Chief for The Financial Times and the newspaper’s former Beijing Bureau Chief, and the author of the book The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers.

Through the fog of factional war that invariably envelopes any top-level corruption investigation in China, we can be clear about one thing if Zhou Yongkang is in fact the target of an official graft probe. 

Xi Jinping’s willingness to take on a once-serving member of the Politiburo standing committee will confirm the assessment a number of China experts have already made of him—that he is a singularly powerful leader; certainly the most powerful General Secretary of the C.C.P. since Deng Xiaoping.

Equally, a formal graft probe, if confirmed, will not be evidence of something else being bandied around by some commentators—that Xi is finally “getting serious” about corruption.

Under C.C.P. rules—in which the party catches and kills its own, through its own internal justice system, free of any of the constraints of the law (such as it is)—corruption probes inherently are political decisions. An investigation of someone as senior as Zhou is thus a high wire act, requiring Xi to not only get the support of serving members of the inner sanctum but also the informal council of elders who are consulted on sensitive issues. To secure such consensus, Xi clearly has lots of power, and balls.

Zhou is no small fish. The trail of the investigation so far has walked the world through his power bases—the sprawling province of Sichuan, where he was once the top official; the “petroleum mafia,” once-impregnable fortresses of the big state-owned oil giants, which have deep military connections; and finally in the state security establishment, which he oversaw under Hu Jintao.

I suspect the threshold decision to take on Zhou was made concurrently with the move against Bo Xilai. Bo’s unforgivable sin was to buck the system and campaign openly for a position on the standing committee. Zhou’s apparent support for him meant that Bo’s fall made him a marked man as well. But still, Xi has clearly let the investigators have their head, as evidenced by the detention of various senior executives in the oil industry, and also Zhou’s own son.

Why, then, given the audacity of Xi’s move, could anyone suggest he is “not serious” about corruption?

Prosecutors, and prosecutions, even in democratic systems, can be tainted by politics. But in China, politics trumps all other considerations. Certainly, Xi’s anti-corruption rhetoric seems to have put some five-star restaurants out of business, as state and private businesses cut back on ostentatious entertaining. In Wang Qishan, he has an exceptionally tough head of the CCP’s anti-graft body. But still, there is no good reason other than power politics for why Zhou and his family should be investigated instead of, say, that of the outgoing premier, Wen Jiabao, or perhaps even members of Xi's own family, Both have amassed enormous wealth, chronicled in detail by The New York Times and Bloomberg News, yet they remain untouchable.

So while we shouldn’t shed any tears for Zhou Yongkang—it couldn't happen to a nicer guy, as the saying goes— let’s equally not pretend Xi is ushering in a new era of fearless prosecution of graft.

Pin Ho

Pin Ho is the Founder and CEO of the Mirror Media Group. He co-authored, with Huang Wenguang, book about Bo Xilai called A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China.

As Mr. McGregor said, Xi may be becoming a powerful leader. In fact, Xi has gotten his hands on more complete political power than Deng Xiaoping. Technically, Deng ruled from behind the throne and the Politburo Standing Committee was his Grand Council.

But Xi now occupies all of the most powerful positions. In addition to the Party and the military he also controls the government, including the economy. He holds the number one positions both in fact and in name. He not only occupies the most important political position but he has distanced himself from other members of the Standing Committee. On CCTV’s news network, reports about activities related to members of Politburo Standing Committee are only broadcast after the top news and are limited to two minutes. By contrast, news reports about Xi are always in the top news and have no such time limitations.

This represents a breakdown of the whole system behind the Politburo Standing Committee. And in any case, the collective leadership system is a rare creature that has never had to stand the test of time or been tested by events. In Politburo Standing committee meetings, each member has his own axe to grind. They usually don’t oppose each other’s policy proposals and personnel appointments, because they know others will repay them in kind in the future. A collective leadership in which members only seek personal gain is not sustainable. Hu Jintao’s Standing Committee left a powder keg for Xi Jinping. If Xi dithers like his predecessor Hu, he’ll likely be the last General Secretary of the CPC.

But even as he presents himself as powerful, Xi Jinping has put himself in the most dangerous of situations, surrounded by arrogant and conceited princelings and by bureaucrats who are all talk but no action. They are good at scheming and intrigue and have their own intricate circles of power. So it will take courage and intelligence for Xi to break away from them.

In recent years, people's faith in so called “reformist” C.C.P. leaders came to naught, people don’t have the nerve to place much hope in Xi Jinping. So much less so given that during his first year in office his language and actions have echoed those of Mao Zedong, and he has so openly cracked down on liberals, to the point that some people see him as casting himself as Mao’s heir.

If this is the case, then Zhou Yongkang is just a sacrifice at the altar of Xi’s power. Xi’s is just an old-school power play. It’s no different from when [Mao] punished Xi’s father's comrade Gao Gang (former Vice Chairman of the Party), who later later won sympathy [because Mao had used him]. But he was hardly an innocent victim, he had committed all sorts of outrageous offenses when he was in power!

But what if Xi Jingping eventually proves he is truly an ambitious reformer, then how should we regard what he's doing today? Which is to say, how can you demand that Xi achieve everything all at once? If, as Mr McGregor’s logic seems to suggest he should, Xi were suddenly to clean out every corrupt official at once, he would be out of power in an instant.

To what extent Xi’s thinking is rooted in Western civilization’s political thinking, we don’t know, but his familiarity with tales of palace intrigue is indisputable. He has been reading them for decades, so he should know that if he wants to build up his power, he must first protect himself.

This is how Chinese politics is strange: because Chinese leaders (and business leaders) love reading books (some of them fictional) about the manipulations of the emperors, everyone in Chinese politics knows how to play dirty.

But people tend to underestimate the scope of a critical situation or how it might unfold. If Zhou Yongkang had seen his own fate in Bo Xilai’s troubles, if Bo had seen his own life sentence in Wang Lijun’s, would either of them have allowed themselves to be captured? Obviously, they didn't calculate well.

And at the time, Xi Jinping didn’t necessarily know what his own next steps would be. He didn’t make his choice until now. Of course, he made the right choice. Regardless of what kind of leader he turns out to be, arresting Zhou Yongkang lifts everyone’s spirits.

A good feud in the imperial court makes a great show. So let’s all find a cozy spot on the couch and wait for the next episode.

Topics: 
Pin Ho is the Founder and CEO of the Mirror Media Group. He co-authored, with Huang Wenguang, book about Bo Xilai called A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle...
Richard McGregor is Washington Bureau Chief for The Financial Times and the newspaper’s former Beijing Bureau Chief, and the author of the book The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers...

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12.07.13

Will China Shut Out the Foreign Press?

Winston Lord, Paul Mooney & more
Some two dozen journalists employed by The New York Times and Bloomberg News have not yet received the visas they need to continue to report and live in China after the end of this year. Without them, they will effectively be expelled from the...

Conversation

12.03.13

What Posture Should Joe Biden Adopt Toward A Newly Muscular China?

Susan Shirk
<p><em>Susan Shirk:</em></p><p>United States Vice President Joseph Biden is the American political figure who has spent the most time with Xi Jinping and has the deepest understanding of Xi as an individual. Before Xi’s...

Conversation

11.27.13

Why’s the U.S. Flying Bombers Over the East China Sea?

Chen Weihua, James Fallows & more
<p><em>Chen Weihua:</em></p><p>The Air Defense Identification Zone (<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25062525" target="_blank">ADIZ</a>) is not a Chinese invention. The...

Conversation

11.24.13

What Should the Next U.S. Ambassador to China Tackle First?

Mary Kay Magistad & Robert Kapp
<p><em>Mary Kay Magistad:</em> Gary Locke succeeded in a way that few U.S. ambassadors to China have—in improving public perceptions of U.S. culture.&nbsp; Locke’s down-to-earth approachability and lack of ostentation certainly...

Conversation

11.19.13

What Will the Beginning of the End of the One-Child Policy Bring?

Leta Hong Fincher, Vincent Ni & more
<p><em>Leta Hong Fincher:</em></p><p>The Communist Party’s announcement that it will loosen the one-child policy is, of course, welcome news. Married couples will be allowed to have two children if only one of the...

Conversation

11.12.13

Spiked in China?

John Garnaut, Sidney Rittenberg & more
<p>Last weekend,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/09/world/asia/bloomberg-news-is-said-to-curb-articles-that-might-anger-china.html" target="_blank"><em>The New York Times</em></a>...

Conversation

10.30.13

Trial By TV: What Does a Reporter’s Arrest and Confession Tell Us About Chinese Media?

Wang Feng & Jeremy Goldkorn
<p><em>The latest ChinaFile Conversation focuses on the case of Chen Yongzhou, the Guangzhou New Express journalist whose series of investigative reports exposed fraud at the Changsha, Hunan-based heavy machinery maker <a href="...

Conversation

10.25.13

Can State-Run Capitalism Absorb the Shocks of ‘Creative Destruction’?

Barry Naughton, Shai Oster & more
<p><em>Following are ChinaFile Conversation participants’ reactions to <a href="http://nationalinterest.org/article/china-superpower-or-superbust-9269?page=1" target="_blank">“China: Superpower or Superbust?”...

Conversation

10.22.13

Why’s China’s Smog Crisis Still Burning So Hot?

Alex Wang, Isabel Hilton & more
<p><em>Alex Wang:</em></p><p>On Sunday, the start of the winter heating season in northern China brought the <a href="http://www.chinafile.com/airpocalypse-now-china-tipping-point" target="_blank...

Conversation

10.16.13

Uncomfortable Bedfellows: How Much Does China Need America Now?

Bill Bishop, David Schlesinger & more
<p><em>Bill Bishop:</em></p><p>The D.C. dysfunction puts China in a difficult place. Any financial markets turmoil that occurs because of a failure of Congress to do its job could harm China’s economy, and especially...

Conversation

10.10.13

CCTV Network News Broadcast

<p>Following is a transcript of the network news <a href="http://news.cntv.cn/2013/10/01/VIDE1380638280415972.shtml%20" target="_blank">broadcast</a> of China Central Television on September 30, 2013:</p>...

Conversation

10.08.13

Obama’s Canceled Trip to Asia: How Much Did It Matter?

Winston Lord, Susan Shirk & more
<p><em>Last week as the U.S. Federal Government shut down, President Obama canceled his planned trip to Indonesia and Brunei, where he was to have attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Bali. Some foreign policy...

Conversation

10.07.13

Why Is Xi Jinping Promoting Self-Criticism?

Stephen C. Angle & Taisu Zhang
<p>Critics both within and without China have suggested that Xi Jinping’s promotion of self-criticism by Communist Party cadres has at least two motives: it promotes the appearance of concern with lax discipline while avoiding deeper reform,...

Conversation

09.27.13

Can China’s Leading Indie Film Director Cross Over in America?

Jonathan Landreth, Michael Berry & more
<p><em>Jonathan Landreth:</em></p><p>Chinese writer and director Jia Zhangke’s <em>A Touch of Sin</em> won the prize for the best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Though the dialogue and its...

Conversation

09.24.13

A Shark Called Wanda—Will Hollywood Swallow the Chinese Dream Whole?

Stanley Rosen, Jonathan Landreth & more
<p><em>Stanley Rosen:</em></p><p>Wang Jianlin, who personally doesn’t know much about film, made a splash when he <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-21/china-s-wanda-group-to-buy-amc-cinema-chain-for...

Conversation

09.17.13

What’s Behind China’s Recent Internet Crackdown?

Xiao Qiang, John Garnaut & more
<p><em>Last weekend, Charles Xue Manzi, a Chinese American multi-millionaire investor and opinion leader on one of China’s most popular microblogs, <a href="http://news.cntv.cn/2013/09/15/VIDE1379202482346211.shtml?utm_source=The...

Conversation

09.13.13

What Can China and Japan Do to Start Anew?

Paula S. Harrell & Chen Weihua
<p><em>Paula S. Harrell:</em></p><p>While the media keeps its eye on the ongoing Diaoyu/Senkaku islands dispute, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/10/japan-workers-disputed-islands-china"...

Conversation

09.09.13

What Are Chinese Attitudes Toward a U.S. Strike in Syria?

Chen Weihua, Vincent Ni & more
<p><em>Chen Weihua:<br /></em></p><p>Chinese truly believe that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. On the contrary, a U.S. air strike would only worsen the situation there. Chinese have seen many...

Conversation

09.05.13

To Reform or Not Reform?—Echoes of the Late Qing Dynasty

Orville Schell, John Delury & more
<p><em>Orville Schell:</em><br /><br />It is true that China is no longer beset by threats of foreign incursion nor is it a laggard in the world of economic development and trade. But being there and being steeped in an...

Conversation

08.28.13

Beijing, Why So Tense?

Andrew J. Nathan, Isabel Hilton & more
<p><em>Andrew Nathan:</em><br /><br />I think of the Chinese leaders as holding a plant spritzer and dousing sparks that are jumping up all around them.&nbsp; Mao made the famous remark, “A single spark can start a...

Conversation

08.21.13

Is Xi Jinping Redder Than Bo Xilai Or Vice Versa?

Michael Anti & Shai Oster
<p><em>Michael Anti:</em></p><p><strong>Competing for Redness: The Scarlet Bo vs the Vermilion Xi?</strong></p><p>Bo Xilai, the fallen Chinese princeling famous for leading a “Red Songs”...

Conversation

08.15.13

What Should China Do to Reverse its Tourism Deficit?

Leah Thompson, Damien Ma & more
<p>Recent news stories and industry studies show that fewer international visitors are choosing China as their destination. January-June <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/14/world/asia/china-foreign-tourism-falls-and-smog-may-be-...

Conversation

08.07.13

What Will Come out of the Communist Party’s Polling the People Online?

David Wertime, Duncan Clark & more
<p><em>David Wertime:</em></p><p>Simon Denyer’s recent article (<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-china-government-mines-public-opinion/2013/08/02/33358026-f2b5-11e2-ae43-b31dc363c3bf_story.html?...

Conversation

08.01.13

How Dangerous Are Sino-Japanese Tensions?

Jerome A. Cohen
<p>Sino-Japanese relations do not look promising at the moment. Obviously, the Diaoyu-Senkaku dispute is not the only factor in play but it does focus nationalist passions on both sides. Yet both countries are capable of wiser conduct if their...

Conversation

07.30.13

Is Business in China Getting Riskier, Or Are Multinationals Taking More Risks?

Arthur R. Kroeber, David Schlesinger & more
<p><em>Arthur Kroeber:</em></p><p>The environment for foreign companies in China has been getting steadily tougher since 2006, when the nation came to the end of a five-year schedule of market-opening measures it...

Conversation

07.25.13

The Bo Xilai Trial: What’s It Really About?

Jerome A. Cohen, Andrew J. Nathan & more
<p><a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/25/us-china-politics-bo-idUSBRE96O01U20130725" target="_blank">China has charged disgraced senior politician Bo Xilai</a> with bribery, abuse of power and...

Conversation

07.23.13

What Would a Hard Landing in China Mean for the World?

Barry Naughton, James McGregor & more
<p><em>Barry Naughton:</em></p><p>Paul Krugman in a recent post (<a href="http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/20/how-much-should-we-worry-about-a-china-shock/" target="_blank">“How Much...

Conversation

07.18.13

Xu Zhiyong Arrested: How Serious Can Beijing Be About Political Reform?

Donald Clarke, Andrew J. Nathan & more
<p><em>Donald Clarke:</em></p><p>When I heard that Xu Zhiyong had just been detained, my first thought was, “Again?” This seems to be something the authorities do every time they get nervous, a kind of political Alka...

Conversation

07.16.13

What’s the Senate’s Beef with China’s Play for American Pork?

Arthur R. Kroeber, Steve Dickinson & more
<p><span style="font-size: 13.3333339691162px; line-height: 1.538em;">Last week the U.S. Senate held hearings to question the CEO of meat-producer Smithfield Farms, about the proposed $4.7 billion sale of the Virginia-based...

Conversation

07.09.13

What Is the “Chinese Dream” Really All About?

Stein Ringen, Jeremy Goldkorn & more
<p><em>Stein Ringen</em><em>:</em></p><p>I’m coming to the view that the ‘Chinese Dream’ is a signal from the leadership of great import that has much to say about the nature of the Chinese state. It is...

Conversation

07.03.13

How Would Accepting Gay Culture Change China?

Fei Wang & Steven Jiang
<p><em>Last week's <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/26/us/annotated-supreme-court-decision-on-doma.html" target="_blank">U.S. Supreme Court decision</a> to strike down the core...

Conversation

06.27.13

Is Xi Jinping’s Fight Against Corruption For Real?

Roderick MacFarquhar, Winston Lord & more
<p><em>Roderick MacFarquhar:</em></p><p>Xi Jinping’s overriding aim is the preservation of Communist party rule in China, as he made clear in speeches shortly after his elevation to be China’s senior leader. &nbsp;...

Conversation

06.25.13

How Badly Have Snowden’s Leaks Hurt U.S.-China Relations?

Matt Schiavenza
<p><em>Matt Schiavenza:</em></p><p>In the understatement of the day, the United States is unhappy with the recent developments of the Edward Snowden situation. Just three days ago, Washington was in negotiations with...

Conversation

06.21.13

How Should the World Prepare for a Slower China?

Arthur R. Kroeber & Patrick Chovanec
<p><strong>Get Ready for a Slower China</strong><br /><br />The recent gyrations on the Chinese interbank market underscore that the chief risk to global growth now comes from China. Make no mistake: credit policy will...

Conversation

06.18.13

What’s Right or Wrong with This Chinese Stance on Edward Snowden?

Shai Oster & Steve Dickinson
<p><em>For today’s ChinaFile Conversation we asked contributors to react to the following excerpt from an <a href="http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/789238.shtml">op-ed published on Monday June 17 in the</a><a...

Conversation

06.13.13

Who’d You Rather Be Watched By: China or the U.S.?

Tai Ming Cheung, Andrew J. Nathan & more
<p><em>Reports of U.S. gathering data on emails and phone calls have stoked fears of an over-reaching government spying on its citizens. Chinese artist <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/11/nsa-surveillance...

Conversation

06.11.13

What’s the Best Way to Advance Human Rights in the U.S.-China Relationship?

Nicholas Bequelin, Sharon Hom & more
<p><em>Nicholas Bequelin:</em></p><p>The best way to advance human rights in the U.S.-China relationship is first and foremost to recognize that the engine of human rights progress in China today is the Chinese...

Conversation

06.06.13

What Would the Best U.S.-China Joint Statement Say?

Winston Lord, Orville Schell & more
<p><em>As we approach the June 7-8 meeting in California of U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping we are holding a small contest. We have asked ChinaFile Conversation regulars and a few guests to envision their...

Conversation

06.04.13

How Would Facing Its Past Change China’s Future?

David Wertime, Isabel Hilton & more
<p><em>David Wertime:</em></p><p>The memory of the 1989 massacre of protesters at Tiananmen Square remains neither alive nor dead, neither reckoned nor obliterated. Instead, it hangs spectre-like in the background, a...

Conversation

05.29.13

What Should Obama and Xi Accomplish at Their California Summit?

Susan Shirk, Orville Schell & more
<p><em>Susan Shirk:</em></p><p>It’s an excellent idea for President Obama and President Xi to spend two days of quality time together at a private retreat in Southern California. Past meetings between Chinese and...

Conversation

05.23.13

China and the Other Asian Giant: Where are Relations with India Headed?

Michael Kulma, Mark Frazier & more
<p><em>Mike Kulma:</em></p><p>Earlier this week at an Asia Society forum on U.S.-China economic relations, Dr. Henry Kissinger remarked that when the U.S. first started down the path of normalizing relations with China...

Conversation

05.21.13

U.S.-China Economic Relations—What Will the Next Decade Bring?

Orville Schell & Patrick Chovanec
<p><em>On Monday, within hours of the announcement that <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/20/us-usa-china-obama-idUSBRE94J0UQ20130520" target="_blank">Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet U.S...

Conversation

05.16.13

China: What’s Going Right?

Michael Zhao, James Fallows & more
<p><em>Michael Zhao:</em><br /><br />On a recent trip to China, meeting mostly with former colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, I got a dose of optimism and hope for one aspect of the motherland. In terms of...

Conversation

05.14.13

Why Can’t China Make Its Food Safe?—Or Can It?

Alex Wang, John C. Balzano & more
<p>The month my wife and I moved to Beijing in 2004, I saw a bag of oatmeal at our local grocery store prominently labeled: “NOT POLLUTED!” How funny that this would be a selling point, we thought.</p><p>But 7 years later as we...

Conversation

05.10.13

What’s China’s Game in the Middle East?

Rachel Beitarie, Massoud Hayoun & more
<p><em>Rachel Beitarie:</em></p><p>Xi Jinping’s four point proposal for a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement is interesting not so much for its content, as for its source. While China has maintained the appearance of...

Conversation

05.07.13

Why Is a 1995 Poisoning Case the Top Topic on Chinese Social Media?

Rachel Lu, Andrew J. Nathan & more
<p>With a population base of 1.3 billion people, China has no shortage of strange and gruesome crimes, but the attempted murder of Zhu Ling by thallium poisoning in 1995 is burning up China’s social media long after the trails have gone cold...

Conversation

05.02.13

Does Promoting “Core Interests” Do China More Harm Than Good?

Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt, Susan Shirk & more
<p><em>On April 30, as tensions around China’s claims to territories in the South- and East China Seas continued to simmer, we began what proved to be a popular ChinaFile Conversation, asking the question, <a href="http://www...

Conversation

04.30.13

What’s Really at the Core of China’s “Core Interests”?

Shai Oster, Andrew J. Nathan & more
<p><em>Shai</em> <em>Oster</em>:</p><p>It’s Pilates diplomacy—work on your core. China’s diplomats keep talking about China’s core interests and it’s a growing list. In 2011, China included its political...

Conversation

04.25.13

Hollywood in China—What’s the Price of Admission?

Jonathan Landreth, Ying Zhu & more
<p>Last week, DreamWorks Animation (DWA), the Hollywood studio behind the worldwide blockbuster <em>Kung Fu Panda</em> films, announced that it will cooperate with the China Film Group (CFG) on an animated feature called <em>...

Conversation

04.23.13

How Would You Spend (the Next) $300 Million on U.S.-China Relations?

Orville Schell & Michael Kulma
<p><em>Orville Schell</em>:</p><p>When Stephen A. Schwarzman announced his new <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/schwarzman-scholars-in-china-2013-4" target="_blank">$300 million program...

Conversation

04.18.13

How Fast Is China’s Slowdown Coming, and What Should Beijing Do About It?

Patrick Chovanec, Barry Naughton & more
<p>Slower Chinese GDP growth is not a bad thing if it’s happening for the right reasons. But it’s not happening for the right reasons.</p><p>Instead of reining in credit to try to curb over-investment, Chinese authorities have...

Conversation

04.16.13

Why is China Still Messing with the Foreign Press?

Andrew J. Nathan, Isabel Hilton & more
<p>To those raised in the Marxist tradition, nothing in the media happens by accident.&nbsp; In China, the flagship newspapers are still the “throat and tongue” of the ruling party, and their work is directed by the Party’s Propaganda...

Conversation

04.11.13

Why Is Chinese Soft Power Such a Hard Sell?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Donald Clarke & more
<p><em>Jeremy Goldkorn:</em></p><p>Chairman Mao Zedong said that power comes out of the barrel of a gun, and he knew a thing or two about power, both hard and soft. If you have enough guns, you have respect. Money is...

Conversation

04.09.13

Is China Doing All it Can to Rein in Kim Jong-un?

Winston Lord, Susan Shirk & more
<p><em>Winston Lord:</em></p><p>No.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Conversation

04.03.13

Bird Flu Fears: Should We Trust Beijing This Time?

David Wertime, Yanzhong Huang & more
<p><em>David Wertime:</em></p><p>A new strain of avian flu called H7N9 has <a href="http://www.who.int/csr/don/2013_04_03/en/index.html" target="_blank">infected at least seven humans and...

Conversation

04.02.13

Why Did Apple Apologize to Chinese Consumers and What Does It Mean?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Isabel Hilton & more
<p><em>Jeremy Goldkorn:</em></p><p>On March 22, before the foreign media or Apple themselves seemed to have grasped the seriousness of the CCTV attacks on the Californian behemoth, I wrote a post on <a href="...

Conversation

03.28.13

Will China’s Renminbi Replace the Dollar as the World’s Top Currency?

Patrick Chovanec, Damien Ma & more
<p><em>Patrick Chovanec:</em></p><p>This week’s news that Brazil and China have signed a $30 billion currency swap agreement gave a renewed boost to excited chatter over the rising influence of China’s currency, the...

Conversation

03.26.13

Can China Transform Africa?

Jeremy Goldkorn, Isabel Hilton & more
<p><em>Jeremy Goldkorn:</em></p><p>The question is all wrong. China is already transforming Africa, the question is how China is transforming Africa, not whether it can. From the “<a href="http://www...

Conversation

03.19.13

China’s New Leaders Say They Want to Fight Corruption. Can They? Will They?

Andrew J. Nathan & Ouyang Bin
<p>In his first <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/world/asia/li-keqiang-chinas-premier-offers-plan-of-economic-and-social-reforms.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">press conference</a>...

Conversation

03.15.13

Is the One Child Policy Finished—And Was It a Failure?

Dorinda Elliott, Alexa Olesen & more
<p><em style="border-style: initial; border-color: initial; vertical-align: baseline; border-width: 0px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;">Dorinda Elliott:</em></p><p>China’s recent&nbsp;<a href="http://...

Conversation

03.13.13

China’s Post 1980’s Generation—Are the Kids All Right?

Sun Yunfan, Orville Schell & more
<p><em>This week, the <a href="http://www.chinafile.com/blog" target="_blank">ChinaFile Conversation</a> is a call for reactions to an article about China's current generation gap, written by James...

Conversation

03.08.13

Will China’s Property Market Crash, and So What If It Does?

Dorinda Elliott & Bill Bishop
<p><em>Dorinda Elliott:</em></p><p>At this week’s National People’s Congress, outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao proclaimed that the government kept housing prices from rising too fast. Really? I wonder what my 28-year-old...

Conversation

03.06.13

Are Proposed Sanctions on North Korea a Hopeful Sign for U.S.-China Relations?

Orville Schell, Susan Shirk & more
<p><em>Orville Schell:</em></p><p>What may end up being most significant about the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/06/world/asia/china-said-to-back-new-sanctions-against-north-korea.html" target=...

Conversation

03.01.13

Is America’s Door Really Open to China’s Investment?

Daniel H. Rosen, Orville Schell & more
<p><em>Daniel Rosen:</em></p><p>There have not been many new topics in U.S.-China economic relations over the past decade: the trade balance, offshoring of jobs, Chinese holding of U.S. government debt, whether China’s...

Conversation

02.27.13

How Long Can China Keep Pollution Data a State Secret?

Elizabeth Economy, Orville Schell & more
<p><em>Elizabeth Economy</em>:</p><p>The environment is center stage once again in China. A Chinese lawyer has requested the findings of a national survey on soil pollution from the Ministry of Environmental Protection...

Conversation

02.22.13

Will Investment in China Grow or Shrink?

Donald Clarke & David Schlesinger
<p><em>Donald Clarke:</em></p><p>I don’t have the answer as to whether investment in China will grow or shrink, but I do have a few suggestions for how to think about the question. First, we have to clarify why we want...

Conversation

02.20.13

Cyber Attacks—What’s the Best Response?

James Fallows, Xiao Qiang & more
<p>With regular ChinaFile Conversation contributor <a href="http://www.chinafile.com/contributor/Elizabeth%20Economy" target="_blank">Elizabeth Economy</a> on the road, we turned to her colleague <a href=...

Conversation

02.15.13

U.S.-China Tensions: What Must Kerry Do?

Dorinda Elliott, Elizabeth Economy & more
<p><em>Dorinda Elliott:</em></p><p>On a recent trip to China, I heard a lot of scary talk of potential war over the disputed Diaoyu Islands—this from both senior intellectual types and also just regular people, from an...

Conversation

02.13.13

North Korea: How Much More Will China Take and How Should the U.S. Respond?

Winston Lord, Tai Ming Cheung & more
<p><span style="line-height: 1.538em;">China is increasingly frustrated with North Korea and may even see more clearly that its actions only serve to increase allied unity, stimulate Japanese militarism and accelerate missile...

Conversation

02.08.13

Rich, Poor and Chinese—Does Anyone Trust Beijing to Bust the Corrupt?

Andrew J. Nathan, Susan Shirk & more
<p><em>Andrew Nathan</em>:</p><p>The new Chinese leadership under Xi Jinping seems to be making some bold opening moves with its attacks on corruption and the announcement on February 5 of <a href="%20http://...

Conversation

02.06.13

Airpocalypse Now: China’s Tipping Point?

Alex Wang, Orville Schell & more
<p>The recent run of air pollution in China, we now know, has been worse than the air quality in <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-30/beijing-air-akin-to-living-in-smoking-lounge-chart-of-the-day.html" target="...

Conversation

02.01.13

China’s Cyberattacks — At What Cost?

James Fallows, Donald Clarke & more
<p><em>James Fallows: </em>Here are some initial reactions on the latest <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/technology/chinese-hackers-infiltrate-new-york-times-computers.html?_r=0" target="_blank"...

Conversation

01.30.13

China, Japan and the Islands: What Do the Tensions Mean?

Orville Schell, John Delury & more
<p>How did the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaoyuki/Diaoyu" target="_blank">Diaoyu</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...