April 19th, 2012
10:21 AM ET

Chinese succession and Chinese foreign policy

Editor's Note: Neil K. Shenai is a Ph.D. Candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Bernard Geoxavier is a M.A. Candidate in International Studies researching the domestic political determinants of Chinese foreign policy. He also runs the China Leadership Watch, a blog about Chinese domestic politics. This is the third installment of a three-part series on Chinese succession. The first article is available here and the second article is available here. 

By Neil K. Shenai and Bernard Geoxavier - Special to CNN

Two weeks ago, Chinese President Hu Jintao published an editorial in The People's Liberation Army Daily reaffirming the PLA’s loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. His article pressed the PLA to “resolutely resist the incursion of all kinds of erroneous ideas,” and to “not be disturbed by noise or be affected by rumors.” Another PLA Daily article told the PLA to “strictly observe and maintain the Party discipline” and that the PLA must “stay resolute in resisting non-Party erroneous political perspectives.”

By making public pronouncements about the Army’s subjugate relationship to the Communist Party, Party officials have drawn a line in the sand, renouncing PLA members who are pushing for greater independence from the Party. These statements come on the heels of upheaval within the upper ranks of the Communist Party last month: the ouster of Bo Xilai and arrest of his wife, Gu Kailai, for the murder of Neil Heywood, a British businessman, led many to conclude that the Party is showing major signs of internal strife and dissension leading up to November’s much-anticipated first meeting of the Eighteenth Communist Party of China National Congress in Beijing.

Recent pronouncements by numerous PLA Political Commissars reflect the Party’s desire to shore up support for itself among the armed forces as the unquestioned leader of the Chinese state. Despite the asymmetry of power between Party and Army, China’s military is a key instrument of the Party’s hold on power. Without support of the military, the Party could not survive.    FULL POST

Bo Xilai and the politics of Chinese succession
Bo Xilai at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing this month before his sacking as Communist Party secretary of Chongqing.
March 28th, 2012
11:38 AM ET

Bo Xilai and the politics of Chinese succession

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a three-part series on Chinese succession. The first article is available here. Neil K. Shenai is a Ph.D. Candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Visiting Scholar at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) in Nanjing, China. Bernard Geoxavier is a M.A. Candidate in International Studies at HNC.

By Neil K. Shenai and Bernard Geoxavier – Special to CNN

On March 15, the Chinese Communist Party announced the removal of Chongqing Party Chief Bo Xilai, a popular ‘Princeling’ leader, famous for his anti-corruption efforts and dogged support of Maoism. Since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Bo is only the third Party Chief to be fired mid-term, and his dismissal serves as one of the highlights of an eventful month for the Chinese Communist Party.

Since Bo’s removal, Chinese social media exploded in speculation about the mysterious death of a young Ferrari driver in Beijing, rumored to be Bo Xilai’s son, and even claimed that Bo sympathizers in the Politburo unsuccessfully tried to stage a coup in retaliation to Bo’s removal.

In our last article, we outlined the importance of China’s leadership succession, arguing that underneath the stable veneer of China’s one-Party rule lies a competitive political struggle to control the heart of the Chinese state. In this article, we explain why the Chinese Communist Party removed Bo Xilai and discuss what these events might tell us about the incoming Party Chairman Xi Jinping. FULL POST

Why Chinese succession matters
Xi Jinping.
March 14th, 2012
03:30 PM ET

Why Chinese succession matters

Editor’s Note: Neil K. Shenai is a Ph.D. Candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Visiting Scholar at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) in Nanjing, China. Bernard Geoxavier is a M.A. Candidate in International Studies researching the domestic political determinants of Chinese foreign policy at HNC and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

By Neil K. Shenai and Bernard Geoxavier – Special to CNN

On Wednesday, March 14th, the Chinese Communist Party reaffirmed that Xi Jinping would succeed Hu Jintao as the Party’s General Secretary and seventh President of the People’s Republic of China. Chinese media is mired in speculation about Xi’s mysterious personality and leadership style. The handoff of power between Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping reveals a lot about the nature of governance in China today. Yet these pronouncements come on the heels of high drama in the Chinese Communist Party that could signal some of the vulnerabilities of China’s current political system.

Recent events in Southwest China highlight that the stable veneer of the Communist Party hides a competitive race to control the Party and the state. In early February this year, former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun left his home under the cover of night, disguised as a woman to seek amnesty in the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. It later emerged that Wang Lijun was fleeing an investigation by Communist Party brass for overstepping judicial powers, ordering the harvesting of human organs, and targeting political opponents on flimsy corruption charges. As he absconded, he allegedly took with him proof of a coup d’etat connected to his former boss, the charismatic leader Bo Xilai. Whether you believe Wang's version of events, or see it as a charade orchestrated by those aimed at marginalizing Bo's populist agenda, the fallout has scuttled Bo's preeminence in the Communist Party. More significantly, if the rumors contain a hint of truth, it reveals a dark and dangerous harbinger of a dirty, no-holds barred fight for the heart and soul of China's future. FULL POST

The real power behind North Korea
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao accompanies Premier of Democratic People's Republic of Korea Choe Yong Rim to view a guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People on September 26, 2011 in Beijing, China. (Getty Images)
January 13th, 2012
01:41 PM ET

The real power behind North Korea

Editor's Note: Neil K. Shenai is doctoral candidate in International Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, writing his dissertation on the global financial crisis. Visit his blog here and follow him on Twitter. Kevin Kim is a Research Fellow at the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, where he is an Editor of the SAIS Review

By Neil K. Shenai and Kevin Y. Kim - Special to CNN

In the weeks following Kim Jong-il’s death, many North Korea observers questioned whether his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong-un, could successfully consolidate power in the wake of his father’s death. According to this view, understanding what happens inside of North Korea is instrumental in forecasting its behavior.

FULL POST

October 24th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Global rebalancing act at the G-20

Editor’s Note: Dr. Matthias M. Matthijs is Assistant Professor of International Politics at American University and a Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC.  Neil K. Shenai is doctoral candidate in International Political Economy at SAIS, writing his dissertation on the global financial crisis.

By Matthias M. Matthijs and Neil K. Shenai – Special to CNN

As world leaders prepare for another much-anticipated G-20 summit in Cannes, France in early November, the future of the global economy remains highly uncertain. The spirit of cooperation and solidarity that marked the London Summit in the spring of 2009 seems long gone.  It has been replaced with dissonance, finger-pointing and beggar-thy-neighbor policies.

For all of the confusion and missteps in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, it is worth remembering that the origins of the ongoing economic malaise stem from the divergence in policy preferences between countries that borrowed their way into the crisis, like the United States and the European Mediterranean (Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain), and the countries that lent to them, like China and Germany. FULL POST

How to save the Eurozone
July 11th, 2011
10:42 AM ET

How to save the Eurozone

Editor’s Note: Neil K. Shenai is an Instructor of International Economics and Ph.D. Candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

by Neil K. Shenai – Special to CNN

Since the European sovereign debt crisis began over sixteen months ago, European leaders have serially underestimated the extent to which the financial crisis threatens the fragile equilibrium of the Eurozone.  In this past week, in the wake of a bold bailout and austerity package in Greece, the markets have turned against Italy and now Spain.  These countries face higher interest rates as borrowers lose faith in each country's solvency.

Sooner or later, European authorities will be forced to choose: They can either agree to a system-wide bailout of all peripheral European countries, guaranteeing their sovereign debt at face value, or risk the dissolution of the Eurozone.  No other solution will suffice. FULL POST

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Topics: Economy • Europe