China’s Three Challenges in 2014

We will soon find out whether Chinese President Xi Jinping’s politically conservative course is intended to facilitate his pro-market economic reforms. Having spent 2013 formulating his agenda, this year Xi will have to demonstrate that he is as capable of applying power as he is at accumulating it.

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – Since ascending to the Chinese Communist Party’s top post in November 2012, Xi Jinping has confounded observers. While his political strategy has entailed tightening the CCP’s control over ideology, cracking down on official corruption, repressing dissent, and championing a more nationalistic foreign policy, he has announced an unusually bold economic-reform blueprint.

The world will soon find out whether Xi’s politically conservative course is intended to facilitate his pro-market economic reforms. Having spent 2013 consolidating his position and formulating his agenda, this year Xi will have to begin delivering on his promises and demonstrating that he is as capable of applying power as he is at accumulating it. His success will depend on how he addresses three major challenges.

The first challenge confronting Xi in 2014 is undoubtedly implementation of his economic-reform package, which has aroused both excitement and skepticism since it was unveiled in mid-November. Optimists point to the package’s ambitious goals as evidence of Xi’s commitment to reform, while critics cite its vagueness and lack of a specific timetable as grounds for caution.

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