The East Asian Bureau of Economic Research hosted a public forum on the Chinese leadership to launch the latest edition of the East Asia Forum Quarterly: Leading China Where on November 7, 2013. The forum – consisting of a panel of Professor Peter Drysdale, John Garnaut, Professor Richard Rigby, Professor Kerry Brown, and Professor Yunling Zhang – attracted a large audience from the academic and policymaking communities and a significant media presence. The audience had the opportunity to interact with the panel through a lively question and answer session.
The event aimed to assess the performance of China’s leadership over the past year, as well as to highlight China’s aspirations and challenges into the future. The panellists emphasised the immense and intractable nature of the problems that this generation of leaders has inherited, yet commended the energy with which they are addressing them.
Discussions touched on a number of issues. Speakers outlined the significance of the Chinese Dream and the possibility of China creating a regional ‘Community of Common Destiny’, the implication of the forthcoming 100 year anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, and the symbolism of Maoist language in official speeches. There was also considerable analysis of the decision-making atmosphere in China; the levels of unity within the leadership ranks; the consequences of decentralisation; and the relationship of the Party to Chinese society. China’s foreign policy – in particular, China’s regional role, and US-China relations – was also discussed.
The panellists agreed that the key question for China’s leaders today is how to concurrently achieve change and stability. While the perception was that the leadership are unified in agreeing on the need for reform, the path of reform remains in question.
This event was made possible with the support of the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University.