For those of you who follow international news you probably heard about the Chinese Communist Party’s recent unveiling of their new party leadership. There is almost always a period of uncertainty and apprehension whenever an event like this occurs around the world, particularly with the changing of leadership in an authoritarian country like China.
The case of China is usually one of apprehension as the previous three generations of leaders had all been against political reform and in favor of hard-line communism at some point in their lives. The new generation of leaders, headed by Hu Juntao, however, are rational, technocratic lawyers, economists and engineers who have all had a great deal of experience with the world outside China.
In particular, they have had infinitely more experience with the United States than any other generation of Chinese leadership. This is, generally speaking, very well for global stability, as the two powers will hopefully find rational solutions to problems and profitable ways of co-existing. On the other hand, based off Juntao’s human rights record, this new leadership is not going to be very different from its predecessors as far as domestic political and social reforms go.
It really just depends on what you think is a higher priority and or just cause. If you are a proponent of international security and stability then you should be pleased with Juntao’s appointment. The world will probably not have anything to fear from this new leadership as the aforementioned group is composed of professional leaders with as much to lose through conflict with the West as the United States does.
In fact, they have a great deal to lose even through non-cooperation, as the Chinese economy is really quite dependent on the high-tech global economy for survival. Hu Juntao understands this point without a flaw. He understands that the Chinese military, including their nuclear weapons program, is between 15-25 years behind the United States.
Juntao, and the new leadership, realize this as well, understanding it is cheaper, and more profitable to turn the United States into a close friend instead of a bitter rival. If you are primarily concerned with human rights violations and the continued disappearance of most non-Han cultures, like the Tibetans and Uighers, then you are in for a disappointment. Hu Juntao was the man responsible for repressing a pro-independence and pro-Dalai Lama movement in Lhasa, March 1989. Juntao was acting in accordance with the central government’s policy for dealing with dissent. He crushed it.
Another aspect of this policy is to “pacify” indigenous groups who are being a nuisance. This pacification is actually a systematic breeding out of these troublesome groups through intermarriage, re-settlement of ethnic Han (China’s largest ethnic group) into the area, and suppression of indigenous languages, culture and government.
This is a really unfortunate quality of the new leadership and I do not think will be dispensed with at any point in the near future as it is a practice thousands of years old.
What will the future of China be with this new leadership? Only time can tell, but two things are absolutely clear: the authoritarian nature of Chinese politics under the CCP will continue, and as China looks out to the world, there will be a great many people looking in on the severe domestic and ethical issues facing their new trading partner.