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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, "Hearing: Chinese Leadership Succession and Its Implications," September 23, 2002

This hearing was conducted by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on September 23, 2002. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
September 23, 2002

September 23, 2002
Room 124 Senate Dirksen Building
1st & Constitution Ave., NE
Washington, D.C. 20510

CHAIRMAN D'AMATO: The hearing will come to order. Good morning.

Today the United States-China Security Review Commission opens its initial public hearing since the release of our first annual report to the Congress in July.

Last year, the commission held a total of 10 hearings. Those hearings were enormously valuable in informing the commission and the public on the evolving relationship between the United States and China, particularly the economic relationship.

The purpose of the commission is to assess the security implications to the United States of the growing economic relationship with the People's Republic of China. As I mentioned, the hearings resulted in a far-reaching report, issued to Congress on July 15th, with many important recommendations for legislative action.

And for those of you who have just joined us, the hearings have been published as a Senate document. And available outside on the table are copies of the hearings, the report, and the documentary annex on research that the commission supported during its investigation.

Today, the commission welcomes two panels of well-respected China watchers to discuss the leadership succession now underway in Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party has delayed and is holding its 16th Party Congress on November 8, about 2 months late. At the party congress, the top leadership positions in the party will be parceled out to a select group of high-ranking cadres. These men will lead the 65 million-member Communist Party, the largest remaining Communist Party in the world.

This party congress has been highly anticipated for a number of years, yet we know far too little about its implications and the dynamics leading up to it.

For a country as important as China is, particularly to the United States, and with whom we have such a growing and important economic relationship, it is stunning how little we know of its leadership transition and what attitudes and plans its new leaders have regarding the United States. In a sense, Chinese politics is a political magic show, and we don't know exactly what is going to be pulled out of the hat at the end of this party congress. Whether rabbits, rodents, or raccoons, we will be interested to find out.

There are a number of important issues to be settled at the party congress. We don't know much about the composition of the new Chinese Communist Party leadership at this time because China remains a country ruled by a very tiny, elite group of men, as opposed to by law. There are many unanswered questions concerning the future direction of China's domestic and international policies, and their attitude toward the United States and toward engagement. And it will be a while before we find out just exactly what those attitudes are.

The witnesses in today's hearings were asked to look at the broader implications of the leadership transition, at the process of how the party chooses its leadership, and how the party-PLA nexus influences the succession of politics. In other words, what is the continuing influence of the PLA in this process?

The commission asked them to analyze these issues with an eye toward the history of the Chinese Communist Party and the PLA, to identify trends that could lead us to a better understanding of the future Chinese government.

The party congress will determine who will lead China for at least the next 5 years, through what promises to be a critical period in its modernization drive.

Today we have two panels. We welcome our first panel, very distinguished observers of the Chinese scene.

Willy Lam is the senior CNN China analyst and is based in Hong Kong, and we welcome him. He has come from Hong Kong to testify here today. He is the author of a number of important books, one of which, "The Era of Jiang Zemin," is available. He was nice enough to bring copies for the commission. Willy Lam is one of the most prolific and widely read writers in the China-watching world. We thank him for coming.

The second panelist, Bruce Gilley, is the coauthor of the upcoming "China's New Leaders: The Secret Files," a highly anticipated book he wrote with Andy Nathan of Columbia. He is also the author of "Tiger on the Brink: Jiang Zemin and China's New Elite," and other works on China. Mr. Gilley is presently a doctoral candidate at Princeton.

Third, we have Professor Cheng Li, a professor of government at Hamilton College. Currently, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for scholars in Washington, D.C., he is an accomplished scholar on China. Professor Li's books include "China's Leaders, a New Generation," and "Rediscovering China."

Thank each of you for coming. The way we will do this is that each one of you will have an opportunity to give a 10-minute oral opening statement. You will see a warning signal at 8 minutes that you have 2 minutes to sum up. And after the three of you have made your presentations, we will open up the hearing for questions. This panel will last about an hour and half, so hopefully we will have a very nice, in-depth discussion.

Panel I- Chinese Leadership Succession and its Implications - I
Willy Wo-lap Lam, CNN Senior China Analyst
Bruce Gilley, Co-author of China's New Rulers: The Secret Files
Professor Cheng Li, Hamilton College and Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Panel II- Chinese Leadership Succession and its Implications - II
Professor Shaomin Li, Old Dominion University
Dr. Andrew Scobell, Army War College



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