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Leadership transition in China: New faces awaiting similar challenges?

Speakers: Dr Li Bingqin (LSE), Prof Shaun Breslin (Warwick), Dr Yiu Por Chen (Sheffield), Dr Peter Ferdinand (Warwick), Dr Andreas Fulda (Nottingham) and Dr Yongjin Zhang (Bristol).

Lecture Series organized by Michiel Foulon (Warwick) and Jinghan Zeng (Warwick)

Tuesday 20 November, Tuesday 27 November and Thursday 6 December 2012, Different venues (see programme below), The University of Warwick

All welcome. Refreshments are provided before every lecture from 3.30 pm. Download this page in PDF format here and the poster here.

On the 8th of November 2012 the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China will start at the Great Hall of The People in Beijing. Hu Jintao, the current General Secretary of the Communist Party and President of China will step down due to term restrictions. In addition, the Party Congress will initiate the expected leadership transition process that will eventually put Xi Jinping into power as the new President and Li Keqiang as the successor of current Premier Wen Jiaobao.

China’s leadership transition has not always been a smooth process in the past. Equally, the build-up to the 18th National Party Congress has been surrounded by a number of scandals. First, there were charges (and ultimately a conviction) of murder by Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai who – until earlier this year – was member of the Politburo of the Communist Party. Then there was the sudden disappearance of Xi Jinping and the wide coverage by Western newspapers and press agencies on the wealth accumulation by the family of Wen Jiabao during his time as prime minister. Although the accusations and stories are serious and relevant to the political process, the wide coverage for these and other recent events, however, overshadowed some of the larger political, economic and security questions and challenges that China’s new leaders will inherit as they seek to position China in the emerging post-Cold War order at the dawn of the 21st century.

The topic of China’s domestic development and international rise is often discussed as if China were already the hyperpower it once may become. In other words, as Professor Shaun Breslin (Warwick) put it, sometimes we talk about China’s ‘imaginary power’. China indeed experienced spectacular growth in terms of its gross domestic product (GDP) over the past two decades, which made it the second largest economy in the world in terms of GDP from 2011. Also, its military capabilities are vastly expanding with budgets in some past years increasing at an even higher rate than the country’s GDP. However, although China has indeed been boosting its arms spending in recent years, it has been argued by others that this overlooks the fact that China’s military technology remains inferior. Also, and perhaps more importantly, while second largest in the world, China’s GDP is still less than half of that of the U.S. Finally, with increasing social unrest, inequality, alleged corruption and (still) an export-led economic growth model, the (un)sustainability of China’s growth trajectory has been put into question. Consequently, while we often like to discuss China’s development as an undisputed success, we may forget that this country still has a long way to go where it has to find a way to successfully overcome social, democratic, economic and security hurdles in the coming years. These are some of the very challenges that will be on the shoulders of China's new leaders.

For the occasion of the once-in-a-decade leadership transition in the People’s Republic of China, the Warwick East Asia Study Group heartily welcomes you to its Lecture Series on “Leadership transition in China: New leaders awaiting similar challenges?”. The lectures will bring together academic experts to take stock of China's domestic and international development and to identify priorities and challenges for its new leaders at the dawn of the 21st Century emerging international order. The three lectures will respectively focus on social issues, the topic of democracy in China and the question of whether ‘China will rule the world’.

Warwick East Asia Study Group Lecture Series
China's leadership transition: New faces awaiting similar challenges?

Tuesday 20 November: Social challenges for Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang
4.00 pm: Dr Li Bingqin (LSE) (Slides, Podcast lower quality)
4.30 pm: Dr Yiu Por Chen (Sheffield) (Slides, Podcast lower quality)
5.00 pm: Debate and Q&A, moderated by Michiel Foulon
6.00 pm: Closing remarks
(Venue: H0.52)

Tuesday 27 November: Democracy in China: top-down or bottom-up political reform?
4.00 pm: Dr Andreas Fulda (Nottingham) (Slides, Podcast, lower quality during first 90 seconds)
4.30 pm: Dr Peter Ferdinand (Warwick) (Podcast)
5.00 pm: Debate and Q&A, moderated by Jinghan Zeng
6.00 pm: Closing remarks
(Venue: Lecture theatre 004, International Manufacturing Centre, WMG)

Thursday 6 December: Will China rule the world?
4.00 pm: Prof Yongjin Zhang (Bristol) (Podcast)
4.30 pm: Prof Shaun Breslin (Warwick) (No slides used, Podcast)
5.00 pm: Debate and Q&A, moderated by Michiel Foulon
6.00 pm: Closing remarks
(Venue: B0.01, WBS, Scarman Building)

All welcome. Refreshments are provided before every lecture from 3.30 pm. Download this page in PDF format here and the poster here.