May 30th - "China's Domestic Political Situation" with Dr. Paul Heer.
Lecture II of the Policymakers Seminar Series
Dr. Heer began his lecture with an explanation of China's informal
political system. This system has created a power struggle between
China's technical leader, Hu Jintao, and the former president and
party secretary, Jiang Zemin, who may cling to control long into the
future. Dr. Heer explained the formal structure of the government,
including the varying significance and insignificance of the Politburo,
Central Committee, and the National People's Congress. Overall, in
this section he emphasized the supremacy of the Chinese Communist
Party over all government structures and the military.
Dr. Heer listed three mostly unspoken but widely recognized party
mechanisms for steering China. Each member of the politburo is the
head of a leading group on a different topic. These leading groups
are rarely publicly acknowledged, but determine a great deal in Chinese
politics. Each summer the Chinese leadership vacations in the resort
town of Bei Dai He. This vacation spot becomes the center of government
each summer and the informal meetings held there influence the topics
and tenor of the coming formal government meetings. Lastly, the place
of Party Elders has had a huge impact on Chinese politics, though
their power may be waning over time. These retired members of the
CCP have been known to reassert power in crisis situations, including
the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989. Each time the elders return to power
it sets the party's progress back considerably.
Lastly, Dr. Heer summarized some of the trends in current Chinese
politics including the process of institutionalization as the revolutionary
leaders of the early CCP fade from the picture. He also emphasized
the obsession with order and achieving China's economic goals to maintain
sovereignty now that the Communist ideology has morphed into fascism.