In the lead up to the 19th Party Congress in November 2017, the dominant narrative on Xi Jinping’s first term is that his ambitious reform program has stalled, and that the anti-corruption campaign is just a ruse for power-grab and repression. This lecture argues instead that behind the headlines, significant progress has been made towards building the foundations for a rule-based system of governance.
The analysis starts from reviewing the progress in fiscal reform, a sector seen as the lynchpin of the ambitious, comprehensive program announced at the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Party Congress in November 2013. From the outside, it looks like the early passage of the Budget Law and other legislative changes have brought few concrete results, and progress is far behind schedule. In fact, the Budget Law and associated documents have set in motion some fundamental changes that will redraw the boundary between the state and market, as well as the state and society. These changes are just starting to be implemented, though, and progress will unlikely be linear.
Christine Wong is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Melbourne. Prior to joining Melbourne, she was Professor and Director of Chinese Studies at the University of Oxford, where she was a Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall. She has also held the Henry M. Jackson Professorship in International Studies at the University of Washington, and taught economics at the University of California, Santa Cruz; University of California, Berkeley; and Mount Holyoke College.