China.2005.Hu's.Charge - CHINA IN 2005 Hu's in Charge Tony...

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37 Asian Survey , Vol. 46, Issue 1, pp. 37–48, ISSN 0004-4687, electronic ISSN 1533-838X. © 2006 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, at . Tony Saich is Daewoo Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Email: [email protected] . CHINA IN 2005 Hu’s in Charge Tony Saich Abstract China’s new development strategy seeks to combine populist authoritarianism in the political realm with a shift in economic policy that focuses more on the sustainability and quality of economic growth rather than its speed. Rising social tensions have fed into tightening party control over state and society. During 2005, the policy intent of the Hu Jintao-Wen Jia- bao leadership has become clear. The main thrust is a form of populist author- itarianism with policy gestures to those who have not benefited so much from economic reform to date, combined with attempts to tighten control over state and society in the name of preserving social stability as the key foundation for continued economic growth. At the fourth plenum of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee (CCPCC) in September 2004, Hu made it clear that he was not interested in significant political restructuring but rather an im- provement in the quality of public administration. The fifth plenum in October 2005 recognized the significant shift in development strategy away from an obsessive focus on gross domestic product (GDP) growth toward focusing more on sustainability and social equity, under the catchphrases “scientific development” and “building a harmonious society.” These policy preferences of the new administration display three significant discontinuities and one continuity with those of former party General Secre- tary Jiang Zemin. First, Hu is more orthodox in the political realm than Jiang. There is no doubt that the political atmosphere has tightened over the past year. Hu has reaffirmed his credentials as a strong Leninist leader who has sought to clamp down on dissent and to limit the range of ideas expressed in
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38 ASIAN SURVEY, VOL. XLVI, NO. 1, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2006 the public sphere. Second, policy is more people-centered and populist. There has been a noticeable shift in the discussion of economic policy, with a greater emphasis on sustainability, the quality of growth, and how to deal with the sig- nificant inequalities that exist. Third, Hu does not share Jiang’s essentially pro-U.S. disposition in foreign affairs. Hu seems more suspicious of U.S. in- tentions and has tried to build alliances with other countries, including those not close to the U.S. The one continuity is the belief in the party’s paramount position in the political and economic systems and that only the party can be trusted to carry out reforms. Absent external shocks, policy direction is liable
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