China's Xi Jinping Administration: An Assessment of Achievements and Challenges


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In partnership with the US-Japan Research Institute (USJI)

When: Feb 26 2015 - 11:00am until Feb 26 2015 - 12:15pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room


China's Xi Jinping Administration: An Assessment of Achievements and Challenges


An Asia Pacific Seminar Foreign Policy and Defense featuring:


Akio Takahara
Professor, Faculty of Law, the University of Tokyo


Nathaniel Ahrens

Director of China Affairs, the University of Maryland / Senior Associate (non-resident), Hills Program on Governance, CSIS


Susan Lawrence (Commentator)

Specialist in Asian Affairs, Congressional Research Service(CRS)

China's Xi Jinping Administration: An Assessment of Achievements and Challenges from East-West Center on Vimeo.


Over two years have passed since the advent of the Xi Jinping Administration in China, and this first stage has already been rather eventful to say the least. Xi Jinping's "tiger hunt", his anti-corruption drive, has resulted in the downfall of a number of high-ranking cadres, including those in the military. He seems to be successful in consolidating his power base, and his plan for economic reform is wide-ranging and ambitious. At the same time, Xi Jinping's emphasis on ideological purity and the oppression of dissident voices has been striking and appears contradictory to his policies on the economic front. On the societal level, people's dissatisfaction about the present and concern about the future have not been allayed by the tightening of discipline among the local cadres, while the further downturn in the economy is forecast this year. This seminar reviewed and assessed the achievement and challenges in the past two years of Xi's leadership, and explore the prospects for 2015 and beyond with a major focus set on the domestic questions.


In his remarks, Professor Akio Takahara highlighted how the "red second generation" of leaders, who like President Xi grew up during the Cultural Revolution and had parents who were greatly involved in the CCPAkio Takahara Professor, Faculty of Law, the University of Tokyo, are the driving force behind the current anti-corruption campaign. Many in this group view the Cultural Revolution as a success and therefore see this campaign, along with other recent CCP policies such as the renewed mass line movement, as a means by which to "purify" the CCP. And while the corruption campaign has been largely successful, it appears that the average Chinese citizen does not pay too much attention when a remote corrupt "tiger" is brought down. Rather, many are skeptical about just how much the anti-corruption campaign and other reforms spearheaded by Xi are actually doing to put China on a new path. What is more, there is skepticism as to whether measures such as the anti-corruption campaign will have the strength and staying power to continue on after Xi and his allies leave office. Professor Takahara ended his remarks by emphasizing that without true overhauls of the distribution systems in China, particularly the full dissolving of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and the political system China's economic reforms and environmental issues will only exacerbate.


Mr. Nathaniel Ahrens voiced similar concerns in his own assessment of Xi's policies thus far. He described the CCP's current Nathaniel Ahrens  Director of China Affairs, the University of Maryland / Senior Associate (non-resident), Hills Program on Governance, CSISoperational narrative as a "governing party in crisis with a model that has run its course." Though the problems that China is facing have been around for some time, the CCP has realized that unless it begins making changes now it runs the risk of becoming obsolete in the future. In its recent discussions about the "4 Overalls" for bettering China's future, building a prosperous society has taken precendence over all other goals, including governing within the Party itself. That being said, many in the CCP are concerned with how China's younger generation will behave given the "generation gap" in how they perceive China versus how the current leadership does. This, Mr. Ahrens stated, could be one of the chief motivations behind recent legislation drafted by the CCP for Chinese univerisities/colleges about how to handle the teaching of western values. In those reports, western values are classified as a "non-traditional security threat" since they are shaping the opinions that the younger generation has about China's history and how China's future should look, particularly those that have studied abroad in the United States or Europe. It could also explain the upsurge in ideological teachings in the early years at Chinese universities as teachers try to instill a feeling of pride in China's communist and Maoist history. However, Mr. Ahrens was skeptical as to just how much influence these classes have on Chinese youth since many see them as an obligation rather than something truly interesting.


While making comments on Professor Takahara and Mr. Ahren's remarks, Ms. Susan Lawrence honed in on the perception that the fall of Susan Lawrence (Commentator)  Specialist in Asian Affairs, Congressional Research Service(CRS)the Soviet Union and recent complicated relations with Russia might in fact be influencing Xi's current policies. The potential of a first meeting between Xi and North Korea's Kim Jong Un on the sidelines of Russia's World War II commemorations later this year will also be something to watch. Ms. Lawrence also pointed out that Xi's desire to be the public face of the recent reforms in China could backfire should those reforms fail, turning him from the hero to the scapegoat.



For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page. 

Akio Takahara graduated from the Faculty of Law, University of Tokyo, and received his doctorate from the University of Sussex. He previously worked at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, the Japanese consulate in Hong Kong, J.F. Oberlin University, Rikkyo University, and the Japanese embassy in Beijing. He was a visiting professor at Harvard University from 2005 to 2006. He is currently a member of the New Japan-China Friendship Committee for the 21st Century.


Nathaniel Ahrens is Director of China Affairs for the University of Maryland as well as Director of the Maryland-China Initiative.Most recently Ahrens was deputy director and fellow with the Hills Program on Governance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where he was in charge of development and also active in research. He was formerly an adjunct fellow with the Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS, where he focused on issues relating to China's trade, industrial policy, and innovation.


Susan Lawrence is a Specialist in Asian Affairs at the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress that provides the U.S. Congress with authoritative, non-partisan research and analysis. She covers China, Taiwan, and Mongolia. Ms. Lawrence joined CRS after a career spent largely in journalism. She worked in Beijing for 11 years, serving as Beijing Bureau Chief for U.S. News & World Report, Senior China Correspondent for The Far Eastern Economic Review, and China Correspondent and Acting Bureau Chief for The Wall Street Journal. She also reported from Washington, D.C. for all three publications. Ms. Lawrence holds an A.B. magna cum laude in East Asian Studies from Harvard College and an A.M. in Regional Studies - East Asia from Harvard University. As an undergraduate, she also studied in the History Department of Peking University for two years as a Harvard-Yenching Institute Scholar.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Go Kobayashi
Phone: 202-452-6142