Few subjects are as contentiously debated among students of contemporary China as the direction of its modernization and the progress of its reforms. More often than not, these discussions become dogmatic disputes that yield little value to the comprehension of the raison d’être behind China’s policies and actions. Rather than join this polemical fray, The Jamestown Foundation has opted to present the analysis of five recognized scholars of contemporary Chinese politics in a special issue of China Brief that is devoted to China’s modernization and reforms.
Leading the pack is Chong-Pin Lin, who offers his assessment of what he perceives to be a shift in Beijing’s grand strategy over the past few years. What is alarming, Dr. Lin contends, is that Washington is ill prepared to counter China’s new grand strategy, which involves the use of “extra-military instruments” to abate, if not quell, the influence of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. Turning the attention to within, Willy Lam scrutinizes China’s education system, particularly its institutions of higher learning. After much probing, Dr. Lam reveals the expansive problems that have been constraining China’s ability for innovation and the lack of comprehensive reforms that address these issues.
Yet, progress has been made on other fronts, and as Pieter Bottelier asserts, China’s financial systems are in a much healthier state than just a decade before. Since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, Professor Bottelier explains, Beijing has placed a priority on reforming its financial system and has been relatively successful in addressing, among other challenges, the overhang of its non-performing loans. Turning to the political arena, Cheng Li examines the development of the Chinese Communist Party’s “bipartisanship” practices and its implications for political reform. While the democratization of China is unlikely to happen in the near future, Dr. Li argues that the development of a system of “one-party, two-factions” may actually provide checks and balances to the political system. Rounding out the issue is a piece by Qingyue Meng and Xingzhu Liu, who examine the state of China’s current healthcare system and argue that Beijing’s serious efforts at healthcare reform may require a restructuring of its existing healthcare system.
After reading through this issue, we trust that you will have a much better understanding of the direction of China’s modernization and the progress of its reforms. As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments.