Willy’s Corner

National Security Trumps Reform at the NPC

Domestic and international security concerns have dominated the on-going session of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress. This is despite high expectations that Premier Li Keqiang will unveil thorough-going economic reforms in his maiden Government Work Report (hereafter Report), which was delivered at the Great Hall of... MORE

Members of the Xi Jinping Clique Revealed

Fourteen months after the watershed 18th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress, President Xi Jinping has emerged as a strongman whose power is deemed to be more extensive and entrenched than that of ex-presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. In January, Xi became Chairman of the... MORE

Xi Invokes Mao’s Image to Boost his own Authority

President Xi Jinping has used the celebration of Chairman Mao Zedong’s 120th birthday on December 26 to legitimize his conservative policies—and the concentration of power at the apex of the party-state apparatus. While more than 100,000 people, mostly rural residents, converged on Mao’s birthplace in... MORE

Xi’s Power Grab Towers over Market Reforms

While the recent Third Plenary Session of the 18th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee was expected to unveil major initiatives in economic liberalization, what has struck Chinese and foreign observers most is the weight that the leadership has given to enhancing state security, particularly... MORE

SOE Background of Rising Leaders Threatens Reform

The recent detention of senior executives of the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has highlighted a major question about China’s economic plans: Whether the Xi Jinping-Li Keqiang administration has finally decided to restructure the 110 or so yangqi, or state-owned enterprise (SOE) groupings. Li has... MORE

Ideological Crackdown Reaches the Strongholds of Reform

The Xi Jinping leadership has started an ideological movement among party members and citizens that is geared toward promoting hard-line socialist values and absolute obedience to Beijing’s edicts. While the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Rectification Campaign, announced earlier this year, was focused mainly on nurturing... MORE

Legal Reform in China: An Empty Ritual

The sensational trial of former Chongqing party secretary and Politburo member Bo Xilai—and growing speculation that former member of the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) member Zhou Yongkang may be under investigation for corruption-related offences—has focused the world’s attention on Chinese-style rule of law. While senior... MORE

“Likonomics” Trumped by Harsh Economic and Political Realities

The senior cadres currently meeting for their annual brainstorming session at the seaside Beidaihe retreat are putting the finishing touches on a blueprint for seminal reforms to the Chinese economy (Duowei, August 7; South China Morning Post, August 5; Xinhua, August 5). Given the signals... MORE

Rectification Campaign to Boost Cadres with “Red DNA”

President Xi Jinping has given the clearest indication to date of his political orientation and policy preferences by launching a Maoist-style rectification campaign to “thoroughly clean up the work style” of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 85 million members. In the coming year, officials in... MORE

Beijing’s Aggressive New Foreign Policy and Implications for the South China Sea

The Xi Jinping leadership is embarking on an ambitious and all-rounded diplomacy that official Chinese commentators have called large-scale or high-powered diplomacy (dawaijiao). Its essence, according to the Xinhua News Agency, is “taking relations with big powers as crucial; giving priority to [China’s] neighbors; treating... MORE