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Following the Leader

Following the Leader: Ruling China, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping

David M. Lampton
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 310
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  • Book Info
    Following the Leader
    Book Description:

    With unprecedented access to Chinese leaders at all levels of the party and government, best-selling author David Lampton tells the insider story of China's political elite from their own perspectives. Based on over five hundred interviews,Following the Leaderoffers a rare glimpse into how the attitudes and ideas of those at the very top have evolved over the past four decades. Here China's rulers explain their strategies and ideas for moving the nation forward, share their reflections on matters of leadership and policy, and discuss the challenges that keep them awake at night. We learn of a China where party rulers have become progressively less dominant, bureaucracy and society have become more fragmented, and the people are becoming more powerful.As the Chinese Communist Party installs its new president, Xi Jinping, for a ten-year term, questions abound. How will the country move forward as its explosive rate of economic growth begins to slow? How does it plan to deal with international calls for human rights reform and cope with an aging and increasingly polarized population? In this unprecedented book we learn for the first time how China's leaders see the nation's political future, as well as about its strategic influence on the world at large.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95739-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    David M. Lampton
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Based on 558 interviews with Chinese leaders, on case studies, and on innumerable documents, this book humanizes China’s extraordinary course of development since Deng Xiaoping’s 1977 return to power, examining domestic politics, foreign relations, natural and manmade disasters, civil-military relations, and the Chinese style of negotiating. This volume reveals the human frustrations China’s leaders feel, the nightmares disturbing their sleep, and the sheer scale of the challenges they face. Challenges run the gamut from meeting rising political expectations and keeping the economic juggernaut going, to providing citizens breathable air and potable water and reassuring an apprehensive world that Beijing’s growing...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Evolution in the Revolution
    (pp. 13-44)

    In 1977, the question for China was simple: Could the nation and the state become stronger and more prosperous? More than thirty-five years later, the original question is almost laughable, and now the question is: Can a much stronger China control itself, become more just, and contribute to global stability and development?

    Deng Xiaoping’s second communist-era revolution cannot be as precisely dated as the first, which officially started on the day that the PRC was founded, October 1, 1949, and which I choose to end in mid-1977, when Deng Xiaoping reappeared after his second Cultural Revolution–era exile. From the...


    • CHAPTER 2 Governance and Leadership
      (pp. 47-77)

      Governance and leadership in today’s China reflect an alloy of continuities and discontinuities. The continuities are seen to greater and lesser extents in political culture, institutional practice and structure, resource constraints, and the problems that governing such a populated and expansive land entails. Since 1977 the discontinuities are seen in the facts that individual Chinese leaders have become less dominant in the overall system, society and the bureaucracy have become increasingly pluralized (fragmented), and many actors at all levels of the system have become empowered to act in their own interests—they have information, human resources, and money. China’s central...

    • CHAPTER 3 Policy Making
      (pp. 78-107)

      At each stage of the seemingly endless process of making policy in China, there are struggles—over resources, over power, over ego. The great achievement of the Deng era was that these struggles were waged with far less brutality than in Mao’s time and resulted in far larger gains for the vast majority of Chinese citizens. How Deng and his successors fashioned a more productive policy process is an important, complex story, as is understanding the shortcomings of today’s policy-making process in the PRC.

      Effective nation-states possess a coherent and stable identity, accepted and effective institutions, and a balance between...

    • CHAPTER 4 The World
      (pp. 108-136)

      Currently four principal forces shape Chinese views toward, and actions in, the world: domestic politics and other internal constraints; global interdependence; realist foreign policy thinking; and technology-driven action-reaction dynamics. Domestic politics and big-power considerations have been central in shaping Beijing’s behavior since 1977, while the forces of interdependence and the imperatives of technological-driven change that elicit actions and reactions have been newer developments. Domestic politics is pivotal because leaders must survive the riptides of developments at home if they are to act abroad. Interdependence alters the home players, their relative political heft, and cost-benefit calculations in domestic politics. Of course...


    • CHAPTER 5 Nightmares
      (pp. 139-164)

      With this chapter we move from Part 1’s focus on the principal continuities and changes in the PRC’s governing, policy making, and world outlook over the last four-plus decades to Part 2’s concern with more topical and human aspects of the system. This part is centered on what keeps Chinese leaders awake at night, civil-military relations, and how the Chinese negotiate. This chapter examines the many persistent anxieties of Chinese leaders.

      Each post-Mao Chinese leader has experienced a particular slice of a massive and complex society and history and, therefore, has had distinctive formative experiences. For Deng Xiaoping, the Long...

    • CHAPTER 6 Soldiers and Civilians
      (pp. 165-191)

      At this point in history, China faces two critical tasks: to adapt its political institutions to the reality of a pluralized society and bureaucracy, and to control the military and associated industry as President Dwight Eisenhower (in different circumstances) urged his fellow Americans to do with respect to their military-industrial complex in 1961. This chapter considers this second task. China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), can still be brought to heel by civilian leaders when they are unified and serious, but the military has considerable room to maneuver with limited oversight. When civilian party leaders are divided, the existing...

    • CHAPTER 7 Negotiation Chinese Style
      (pp. 192-218)

      In this day and age China’s comprehensive national strength is much greater, Beijing’s negotiating resources and ploys are more robust, and the interlocutors with which the PRC must deal are far more numerous and varied than when Deng Xiaoping returned to the stage in mid-1977. More than thirty years ago, at the beginning of the reform era, China negotiated from a position of weakness—principally for more resources in order to modernize, to enhance its security, and to enter the principal organizations and regimes of international life from which it was absent. In the twenty-first century, China is now negotiating...

  9. Conclusion: Driving beyond the Headlights
    (pp. 219-232)

    Careers, revolutions, and research are similar in a few respects—each begins with the first step, their development follows logic not fully apparent at the outset, and the final destination is often unanticipated. I started this journey to better understand China, expecting a career in which I would never go to the PRC, much less meet citizens or leaders there. Instead, I supposed I would have a professional lifetime such as that I experienced in Hong Kong in the early 1970s, interviewing refugees and culling information from local mainland newspapers (difang baozhi) not intended for foreign eyes (neibu faxing) that...

  10. Appendix: The Interviews and Interviewing in China
    (pp. 233-246)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 247-280)
  12. Index
    (pp. 281-293)