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China's Leaders & the Prospects for Democracy
China's New Rulers: The Path to Power
In the first of two articles for The New York Review of Books, China scholars Andrew J. Nathan and Bruce Gilley offer an introduction to the new generation of leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, known as the Fourth Generation. "The transition ends a relatively quiet yet intensely fought battle over succession and suggests that the Chinese Communist Party has the ability to renew itself at the top," Nathan and Gilley write. "The next generation may, however, take China in surprising new directions." (The New York Review of Books, Sept. 26, 2002)
China's New Rulers: What They Want
In the second of two articles about China's new leadership, Andrew J. Nathan and Bruce Gilley present the main findings of a new book, The Fourth Generation, written by a Party insider under the pseudonym Zong Hairen. "The main message of the heretofore secret material ... is that the new Chinese rulers come to power with the self-confidence of men who have outperformed their rivals and have risen to the top of a strong political system," they write. "The records and statements make it clear that, unlike the Soviet leaders who preceded Gorbachev, they have a realistic idea of how their system works and of its weaknesses." (The New York Review of Books, Oct. 10, 2002).
China's Governance Crisis
Writing in Foreign Affairs, the China scholar Minxin Pei analyzes what he calls China's "hidden crisis of governance" as the Communist Party makes the apparently smooth transition to a new generation of leaders. "Few appear to have seriously considered whether their basic premises about China's rise could be wrong," Pei writes. "These assumptions should be revisited through a more realistic assessment of whether China, without restructuring its political system, can ever gain the institutional competence required to generate power and prosperity on a sustainable basis." (Foreign Affairs, September/October 2002; reprinted on the website of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.)
Muddling Toward Democracy: Political Change in Grassroots China
This 1998 study by Anne Thurston, a China scholar and an advisor to the producers of FRONTLINE's "China in the Red," examines China's experiments with competitive elections in the country's rural areas and what they may suggest for China's political future. "The process [of democratization] will be a long one, and Chinese democracy will necessarily look very different from ours. In the meantime, even minor, imperfect reforms are better than none. ... At their best, village elections introduce the notions of competition, choice, and justice into local societies where submission to authority and domination by local emperors have long been the norm." (United States Institute of Peace, August 1998).
China's Communist Party Opens Its Doors to Capitalists
As the 16th Party Congress approached in November 2002, The New York Times' Joseph Kahn reported on the Party's courtship of China's new entrepreneurial class. "When party delegates convene in Beijing on Nov. 8 ... the party will be looking to transform itself to hold on to power at a time when the rhythms of capitalism are pulsing through Chinese society. ... The party leaders intend [to declare] that the party now represents capitalists as much as the workers and peasants who formed its base for more than 80 years." (Note: Registration with NYTimes.com is required to access this article.)
Business & Economic Environment
+ Articles & News Reports
It's All Made in China Now
China, formerly known for its manufacturing of cheap toys and textiles, is emerging as a global leader in production. According to this February 2002 article from Fortune magazine, China's success is due in large part to the many foreign companies that have set up major factories in industrial areas: Foreign investment in China is at an all-time high, surpassing investment in South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia combined.
China's 100 Largest Companies
A list of the top 100 companies in China, from Fortune magazine. "China refers to itself as the Middle Kingdom, a realm somewhere between heaven and earth," the authors write. "In economic terms, a similar imagery works: China is somewhere between capitalism and communism. No list of businesses in any other major economy would look remotely like this one. For a start, every China 100 company is state owned."
Wealth: China's New Great Wall
An insightful three-part series from Newsday from August 2002, these articles explore the many changes taking place in China today, from the growing middle class to the shifting lives of the millions of Chinese who live in the vast countryside. The website includes pictures of everyday Chinese, graphs, and the reporter's commentary (in audio).
Workers' Wasteland
An in-depth article from the June 17, 2002, issue of Time International about the deceptive appearance of China's prosperity. "The country has dazzled the world with its remarkable progress since embarking on the capitalist road in 1978," reporter Matthew Forney writes. "The economy has quadrupled in size in two decades. ... China's headlong rush to join the global economy is creating new jobs in the private sector, but it is simultaneously breeding a gigantic underclass of have-nots -- citizens the government fears could one day rise up in open revolt."
Long March to Sanity
In this brief history of the Chinese economy during the 20th century from Asia Week, written at the time of the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, the authors say of Premier Zhu Rongji: "Zhu faces the problem of weak consumer demand ... and a tottering banking system, rotten state enterprises, shrinking foreign investment, yet-to-fully recover exports, fears of a yuan devaluation. But these, at least, are problems of a functioning economy. That alone measures how far China has traveled from the economic insanity of the past."
China's Blue Collar Blues
From February 2000, this article in The Atlantic Monthly by Trevor Corson chronicles the woes wrought by the recent economic reforms in China and the prospects for U.S. involvement in its growing economy. "[C]utting off direct U.S. business dealings -- whether investment or exports -- with China, as many human-rights activists demand, is likely only to pamper our consciences at the expense of desperate Chinese workers," Corson writes.
The Coming Collapse
Orville Schell, long-time observer of China, writes about the uncertain foundation of China's economic successes. "China's economic miracle is comparable in many ways to the Internet bubble," writes Schell in this November 2002 article in Red Herring. "Such bubbles keep inflating and fulfilling expectations of extravagant growth -- as long as investors believe in a pyramid of dreams. But, as in the boom of the late '90s, economic fundamentals in China simply are not solid enough to assure long-term, sustained growth."
China's Dot Communism (audio)
In this August 2002 segment of On Point, a radio program on National Public Radio, host Tom Ashbrook speaks with Minxin Pei, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Jeff Muir, director of Asia-Pacific government relations for Vivendi Universal. They discuss the prospects for the Communist Party's survival in a system of free-market liberalization.
+ Studies & Reports
China's Provincial Growth Dynamics (PDF)
This paper from January 2001 on China's rapid economic growth since 1978, published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), explores the economic "convergence" between China's provinces. The IMF finds that although the relatively poor provinces are catching up to the richer provinces in per capita income, coastal provinces are growing more rapidly than the rest. "The initially poor provinces, as well as the previously richer provinces, are both falling behind in relative terms," the authors write.
Centripetal Forces in China's Economic Takeoff (PDF)
This September 2002 paper from the IMF also explores the issue of income disparity between China's provinces, and finds a strong link to the inflow of foreign investments. "The relatively rich coastal and north/northeastern regions, though perhaps more expensive (in terms of labor costs) than the inland regions, were probably able to attract [foreign direct investment] precisely because of their relative prosperity," the authors write.
Recentralization in China (PDF)
This October 2002 report, also from the IMF, assesses the nature of the relationship between the provinces and the central government over time and calls for comprehensive reform of the country's fiscal system.
Country Economic Review: People's Republic of China (PDF)
Published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), this August 2002 report details China's recent economic developments, short and medium-term prospects, and policy and development issues. The ADB predicts that China's growth will continue over the next three years, and that the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing should further bolster the economy. The ADB also finds that although the number of absolute poor in China fell from 80 million in 1994 to below 30 million by the end of 2001, China's poverty line is still much lower than international norms. (The ADB also published this overview (PDF) of economic indicators in China, from 1984 to 2001.)
World Bank: China
Includes basic data and statistics about China's economy, with links to some of the World Bank's publications.
Chinese Government Sites
China Internet Information Center
The government's portal site, it offers current news about China, including government position papers, economic statistics, and basic information about Chinese history, politics, and culture.
National Bureau of Statistics of China
The government's data on a wide range of economic indicators, from GDP to per capita income in urban and rural households.
People's Daily
The English website for the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper. Includes the text (in English) of the PRC's Constitution, along with selected works of Deng Xiaoping, and basic facts about China.
China and the Internet
China's Cyber-Strategy
This article by Nina Hachigian, a senior fellow at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles, appeared in the March/April 2001 issue of Foreign Affairs. In reviewing the challenges facing the Internet in China and the central government's relative successes in censoring the Web, Hachigian writes, "The United States should not harbor hopes for Internet-led democratization in China. Even if the Internet does amplify a crisis that leads to the demise of the CCP, democracy -- or even a more tolerant autocracy -- is not a guaranteed or likely outcome in a country with no organized opposition party."
Empirical Analysis of Internet Filtering in China
Results from a comprehensive analysis of China's censorship of the Web, conducted by researchers at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and published in December 2002. The authors found that of the 200,000 websites they tried to access in China, more than 50,000 were inaccessible on at least one occasion. Includes highlights of the sites that were blocked, as well as the researchers' conclusions and methodology.
The Internet and State Control in Authoritarian Regimes:
China, Cuba, and the Counterrevolution (PDF)

This working paper from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, published in July 2001, finds that although the dissemination of information made possible by the Internet may be one of the greatest threats to authoritarian rule, China is finding ways to stifle and counter the political use of the Internet. The authors also detail how China also is using the Internet to gain power. "The Chinese state has shown that it can use the Internet to enhance the implementation of its own agenda," the authors conclude.
State Control of the Internet in China
Amnesty International's November 2002 report on the Internet in China. Includes basic statistics, an overview of the government's Internet regulations, and records of 33 prisoners who have been detained for their Internet activity, including political dissidents and members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
A Chronicle of Repression
A detailed, up-to-date chronology of China's Web censorship activities, from Reporters Without Borders. The site includes a list of Chinese Internet users who have been detained, along with the dates of their arrests.
You've Got Dissent! Chinese Dissident Use of the Internet
and Beijing's Counterstrategies

The entire report (100+ pages), which was conducted by the International Security and Defense Policy Center of RAND's National Security Research Division and published in 2002, is available here. The first part of the report analyzes the political use of the Internet by Chinese dissidents who live both in China and abroad. The second part analyzes China's counterstrategies, which have been relatively successful in quelling challenges to the current regime. Drawing from interviews with dissidents and government officials from Washington to Beijing, the report also includes a large appendix of illegal dissident websites (PDF).
Who Lost China's Internet?
This February 2002 article in The Weekly Standard by Ethan Gutmann, a fellow at the Project for the New American Century, details the activities of American companies involved in helping to build China's Internet. The Chinese authorities, for example, have purchased thousands of "firewall boxes" from U.S.-based Cisco, which allow the government to block certain sites that it deems inappropriate. Other companies such as Yahoo, the Internet search engine, have censored political chatroom talk. "The American business presence in China is deeply, perhaps fatally, compromised as an agent for liberalizing change," writes Gutmann.
China Internet News
Bobson Wong, former executive director of the human rights organization Digital Freedom Network, has collected a range of articles on this site which explore access and censorship issues surrounding China's Internet.

 

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