China’s Leadership Transition: Three Things to Know

November 16, 2012, 7:00 am (EST)

China’s Leadership Transition: Three Things to Know
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The Chinese Communist Party’s unveiling of the new Politburo Standing Committee represents a critical transition in the country’s leadership at a time when China is economically and militarily more powerful than ever before. Elizabeth C. Economy, CFR’s C.V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia Studies, highlights three challenges the new leaders face:

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  • Taking On Corruption – The new leadership will have to grapple with ongoing social discontent over corruption, Economy says. "If the next leadership fails to address this issue, it could lead to the downfall of the Chinese Communist Party as well as the state," she says.

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  • Economic Reform – The leadership will also need to undertake a set of structural reforms to spur the country’s transition from a manufacturing to an innovation economy, reduce the role of vested interest, and refocus on domestic consumption, Economy says.

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  • Choosing a Foreign Policy – The new leadership faces a "stark choice" between focusing more on domestic issues and less on foreign affairs and the "more assertive foreign policy" that had begun under President Hu Jintao over the past two or three years, says Economy.

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