The Evolving Shape of Elite Politics

This paper looks at four changes within China in the past decade that has contributed to the political changes emerging in China. First the generational changes within the top leadership of China, second the economic development and differentiation. Third the events of Tianenmen square in 1989 and their subsequent influence. Fourth the changing domestic and international political environments that have emerged post-Cold War. These four factors have interacted and impacted each other in creating the current political environment.

While Deng Xiaoping, the "paramount Leader" considered he and many of his cohorts the "second generation" of leadership, in reality they were still from the first generation. With the passing of Li Xiannian (Jiang's closest political supporter), Hu Qiaomu, Chen Yun, and Deng's death in 1997, the revolutionary generation no longer dominated the political scene. Jiang Zemin and his generation were technocrats who were promoted through bureaucratic service. They were trained to focus on the many problems China was facing, rather than the ideological agendas previous leaders had focused on.

Without revolutionary contributions these new leaders needed to legitimize their role. This was done through enforcement of norms and procedures, as well as a forge of policies and consensus. Because of these changes the National People's Congress (NPC) and special committees have been able to take a more active role as well as force some constraints. The role of law (or the need for it) has also found greater emphasis in Chinese politics. Since Tianenmen the economy in China has more than doubled it's size. The structure of the economy has drastically changed with the growth of the private economy.

There has been a continual growth in foreign trade. Utilizing China's comparative advantage they have developed labor-intensive industries and increased their international export markets. They are also developing high-tech/information industries. The township and village enterprise (TVE) sector was privatized and grew rapidly, but is currently suffering stagnation in job creation. State enterprises have performed poorly. With diversification of economic interests, reforms have created job loss (39 million between 1996-2000) both urban as well as rural.

The government is facing more demands from various interest groups and finding a need to be more accommodating with society. The government expanded the role of "intermediate" associations to articulate the interests of various groups. But it is very limited according to western standards. There has also been an increase in the number of strikes and demonstrations, with better organization and more diverse groups participating than in the past. While the government will suppress these actions, they also must take them into account in order to avoid rebellion.

"Counterrevolutionary" labels are no longer a feasible ploy to suppress protests. Interregional and intraregional income inequalities (thought to stem in part from the abuse of political power) have given rise to issues of social justice. These demands are represented by millions of workers and farmers rather than (as in the past) a small group of intellectuals. In the 1980's there were two political choices, conservatism and reform. Reformers tried to instigate two separations; enterprises from the government, and the Party from the government.

These moves had weakened the Party's political dominance. The Tiananmen demonstrations and crackdown made leaders realize the importance of social stability. This and the break-up of the Soviet Union forced the leadership to recognize a third possibility, social, political and economic collapse. Intellectuals and reformers tempered their desire for rapid political change. A push for a multi party system and electoral democracy declined; there was still a demand for social or economic democracy or equality however.

The 15th Party Congress report emphasized their desired direction of separating enterprises and the government; its pursuit of membership to the WTO reinforces this direction. The Party has managed to keep within bounds the conflict of social stability and enterprise reform from creating a divide and possible leadership crisis from occurring. The end of socialism in Eastern Europe had many intellectuals in China rethinking their economic and political reforms. They saw Russia face economic and political decline with social disorder, corruption and crime.

This caused some in China to question neo-liberal economics, political democracy, and other Western practices. This allowed the government more freedom to reject Western models and bring in incremental reform. In the early 1990's relations with the U. S. became tenser. The U. S. was opposed to China hosting the 2000 Olympics. Many Chinese perceived the country they admired not only reject their government but also oppose them as a nation. The American political and economic model became less appealing to Chinese and demand for democratic reform was reduced.

"Generational transformations of leadership, the growth and diversification of societal interests, and changes in domestic and international political context have strengthened the role of political norms, diminished the role of ideology, enhanced institutions and begun to forge a new state-society relationship and a new sense of nationalism". While ideology has played a diminished role in Chinese society, the leaders ideology still exists, it forms and shapes his style of leadership, and distinguishes him from other leaders eras.

Mao was seen as a central political leader able to instill unity; Deng's role was seen as decentralizing and getting the economy going. Jiang has not been able to portray a strong vision, often a weakness of technocrats whose main strength is to fix problems. He must also contend with problems at home and abroad. When Jiang engages with the world, domestically he is seen as moving away from Chinese interests. To establish legitimacy Jiang was determined to form an ideological system. This system he believed would increase his present influence and also his future influence and power.

(Only he would have the ability to decide if policy is being followed or not). There does not appear to be an evolution of leadership from individual leader to institutions. In 2000 Jiang introduced "Three Representations" these being the Party represents the broad mass of the population, advanced culture, and advanced forces of production. Jiang's push for improving the "construction of Party style" brings into question Marxist ideology. The plenum views Marxism as a methodology for understanding the world rather than a set of conclusions.

Jiang went further and declared class struggle dead, and there by opening up the door for capitalists to enter the Party. He also called for a re-evaluation of Marxist theory on labor and labor value. Fewsmiths logic follows; if wages are determined by supply and demand (neoclassical view) there cannot be exploitation. If the exploitation idea is not Party doctrine, there leaves little need for a Communist Party. Jiang called for inner-Party reform to further democratic reform, it was thought by some that Party reform was needed to increase its legitimacy.

(But a democratic opening any time soon shouldn't be expected). With an absence of revolutionary legitimacy, ideology has lost its persuasive influence, and Party discipline has declined, personal power and ties appears to be more important. Tang Tsou identified the central characteristic of 20th century Chinese politics as "monistic, unified and indivisible". We can see examples of this in Jiang's reshaping of an ideology, marking it as his, and securing his authority through promoting his proti?? gi?? s. There exists a cultural framework, a personalistic system and ideological system to support the Party line.

Factionalism is not tolerated so efforts to thwart that line are a threat to enter into a "game to win all. " It is more than one leader replacing another, it is a re-orientation of Party policy and often occurs during a period of crisis such as following Tiananmen, where a redefining of the Party line was done in a way to weaken and marginalize Deng. Another example was a 10,000 character manifestos that challenged Jiang to define his line. Jiang 's agreement to step down as general secretary of the 16th Party Congress while alive and well is an unprecedented step in the transition of power.

His replacement Hu Jintao is not considered a Jiang loyalist. Jiang's only hope of continuing to exercise power after Hu replaces him is by consolidating his ideological vision and promoting those loyal to him that will keep him in the loop. Jiang's only hope of maintaining influence is through informal politics. Other top leaders also participate in informal politics as manifested when Jiang tried to promote Zeng and was thwarted. Many believe the reason had more to do with bureaucratic and individual interest than ideological concerns. Will Jiang be able to retain power and influence after he leaves office?

That question reflects the change of era and the role of formal norms, and weakening ideology-taking place in China. We have seen changes in state/society relations, the role of ideology, and an increase in norms and institutions. All these have conditioned the rules of the game in Chinese politics. Social divisions have emerged, with corruption and advantages given to special interests at the expense of laws and institutions. Globalization and the entrance of China into the WTO is another potential for disrupting politics and society in China.

The authors main arguments is that with a generational change, economic development, and the environment of Tianenmen Square; and the changing situation with other superpowers like the Soviet Union and the U. S. , China is changing and becoming more economically democratic and showing signs of a softening toward political change as well. That being said, he points out that ideology is still an important factor in Chinese politics, and that there is a strong tendency in the Party to operate under a personalistic system.

While it is a big change to have a leader step down in China while he is still alive, Jiang is trying to hold on to his power through his ideology and live on through his policies, much like previous leaders ideologies transcended their era. This paper helps us understand that change is a slow process and culture and values run very deep. It brings to mind the saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same. " The first half of the paper covered well the four changes that have occurred and interacted to create change within the political system.

His introductory was good and gave a good overall view of the political climate that existed previously and also the new developments and there effect on Chinese politics. The second half of the paper however did not utilize those four factors well in making his case that these factors were influential in party politics. He mainly focused on the generational aspect and the importance of personal ties in Chinese politics. He also researched Jiang's legitimacy and steps taken to earn him influence after his tenure is over.

While Fewsmith was able to provide a lot of information and overall history as well as emerging trends, his focus was too wide to give enough empirical evidence to support any of his ideas fully. I would like to have read more about the economic development changes and reforms that have created inequality and civil unrest; and how the Party is managing those to maintain stability. He Jiang has struggled with his legitimacy much of his time in office. He didn't have revolutionary ties, the party discipline is not as strong as in previous years, and he did not have an ideology. He has had to resort to different measures to gain his legitimacy.

By creating an ideology he also hoped to gain legitimacy in his position. He knew he was leaving office but as those before him he wanted to leave his mark and influence decisions for future generations. I wonder the intent behind Jiang's bold statements. Is it possible that by declaring class struggle dead and making an opening for capitalists, Jiang hoped to garner future support from potentially powerful allies; or is he really pushing for reform? His call for a party reform to be more democratic, his allowing more political participation or representation than previously are other ways he tried to gain legitimacy.

Were those moves inspired by a need to gain more Party consensus, were they motivated by political pressure, were they self motivated, was he testing the waters, or is change in the near future inevitable? The author proposes the new government is able to make changes and do things differently than the first generation of leaders because no one is around to enforce old party politics. The new generation is more technocrats and we have seen an increase of norms and procedures and consensus being followed yet party lines run long and deep. Is there really a generational change among Chinas leaders or are they being replaced with Proti??

gi?? s from the past such as Deng Xi8aopia's in Hu. Even with Deng being dead, he still lives on through his proti?? gi?? Jiang and now Hu. Hu is not a loyalist to Jiang, with Jiang being unable to promote his followers to high positions or to replace him it would appear as if Jiang's power is weak or is it that norms and institutions are becoming more powerful than the old personalistic system? The author mentioned Tianenmen demonstrations and the collapse of the Soviet Union being important factors in creating change in elite politics.

Previously the only options available seemed conservative or reform but after these events, social, political and economic collapse seemed another option. For this reason stability is very important in Chinese politics. They will avoid any rapid political change to avoid chaos. There is a strong need to reform, especially government enterprises. With such a large percentage of people being out of work because of these reforms, and more potential changes on the way with membership to the WTO, how is the government going to be able to keep such tight control and maintain stability?