China's Leadership Transition: Implication for China-US Relations.
Approaching the new China's leadership.
At the Sixteenth Congress of CCP in November 2002 and the 10th National People's Congress in March 2003, China completed a smooth transition from the Jiang Zemin's team to the Hu Jintao's team. It was China's first orderly transfer of authority since 1949. Most old Chinese leaders with whom the western countries are familiar will wane naturally from public sight. There is an interesting phenomenon in the new China's leadership. Nine members of Political Bureau Standing Committee of CCP, who are regarded as the center of China's political decision-making by the American China's experts, are all engineers with professional skill in certain field and with the education background of studying science and technology. None of them has worked in the department of foreign affairs for a long time. They seem to have little diplomatic experience of dealing with the outside world. .
Therefore, some American scholars, such as Pei Minxin and Michael Swaine from Carnegie, are afraid that China will increase political instability and face the governance crisis if the new generation of leaders fails to push for the political reform of building its own legitimacy. Meanwhile, according to these China's experts' views, Hu's lack of foreign policy experience means that he will meet difficulties to cope well with the relations toward other great powers, particularly the Unite States. However, in my opinion, it is still rather early to make conclusion concerning the new China's leadership diplomacy. In fact, most new China's leaders come from Jiang Zemin's team and they have had chances to learn the skills of solving diplomatic troubles and of keeping sophisticated balance among the great powers from old leaders such as Jiang Zemin and Qian Qichen over the past decade. Hu Jintao has had ample exposure to military and national security issues since the late 1990s as the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, For example, he played a big role in handling the crises over the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 and the "EP 3 plane" incident of April 2001.