Description: Drawing on hundreds of interviews with top Chinese officials, parliamentarians, scholars, and businessmen, Willy Lam, a renowned journalist and writer on Chinese affairs, presents a first-hand, multi-dimensional account of twenty-first century China and the impact of fourth generation leaders, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Lam goes behind the glitzy facade of nouveau-riche Beijing and Shanghai to examine how the Hu leadership has tried to extend the Communist Party's "mandate of heaven" by tackling an array of daunting problems: the weakening legitimacy of the Party's leadership; restive peasants; angry workers; political stagnation over the lack of reform; foreign relations difficulties; unreliable energy supplies; resurgent nationalism; and the increasingly dubious "Chinese model" of development.
The author assesses possible contributions that the new classes of private businessmen, professionals, and intellectuals--as well as new ideas such as nationalism, globalization, and federalism--will make to economic prosperity and political liberalization. The book also includes a chapter on foreign policy, which contains an insightful account of Beijing's evolving and sometimes difficult relations with the United States, Europe, Japan, and other major countries and blocs, as well as the role of the People's Liberation Army.
1. Introduction: The Rise of Hu Jintao and the Traits of the Fourth-Generation Leadership
Comment(s): "Willy Lam has no peer in Pekingology. Once again he has probed the personalities and policies of China's current government; his conclusions are sobering, even pessimistic. Lam finds the Hu-Wen leadership lacking and defensive in their vision, constrained in its domestic policies (although better internationally), and he infers that a real (political) reckoning awaits their successors in the 'Fifth Generation.' An important and insightful book for all concerned about China's future." -- David Shambaugh, George Washington University
" Chinese Politics in the Hu Jintao Era is far and away the most thorough, incisive, and informed book on China today: it is living history, with a riveting account of conflicting political dynamics and the probing question of whether a lack of political reform will eventually undercut China's extraordinary and rapid rise to wealth and power. Willy Lam's unique array of sources and long experience in journalism ... result in a fast paced and in-depth analysis of contemporary Chinese politics that cannot be matched by any other writer in the English-speaking world." -- Edward Friedman, University of Wisconsin
"Veteran China-watcher Willy Lam brings his usual insight and verve to the first comprehensive overview of the Hu Jintao era. Ranging from social and ideological problems to foreign policy to high-level factional struggles, Willy analyzes Hu Jintao's often contradictory efforts to extend the CCP's "mandate of heaven." The question Willy asks is: Where is the political reform in all this? And the answer he gives is that there isn't any, at least not yet. All students of China will want to read this lively narrative and ponder its meaning for China's future." -- Joseph Fewsmith, Boston University
"Willy Lam, one of the most astute observers of China's polity and economy, has written another timely and important book on the current Chinese situation and its implications for China's future. His chapters on China's new ambitious foreign policy agenda, the growing nationalism, and the implications from the emergence of new classes are 'must reads' for analysts interested in China's possible impact on the world. One could disagree strongly with Willy's conclusion about the ability of the Hu-Wen regime to launch China on a self-sustained path in political and economic development, but one has to agree that Willy has made a very persuasive case for his assessment." -- Wing Thye Woo, University of California, Davis
Review(s): "Veteran sinologist Willy Lam, in his insightful new book, traces Mr. Hu's meteoric rise in the ranks to that pivotal moment in Lhasa. ... In Willy Lam's view, based on his wide and unique array of sources, China's president is caught in a paradox. Hu believes that he can 'safeguard one-party dictatorship and Chinese-style socialism while simultaneously seeking innovation in industry, trade, and technology.' And, one might add, superpower status. Mr. Hu is only the latest in a long line of Chinese leaders who have held this dystopic vision. Readers of Chinese Politics in the Hu Jintao Era will come away convinced that he will not be the last." -- The Washington Times
"Willy Lam provides one of the most comprehensive looks at the Chinese president whose meteoric rise took party leaders and the world by surprise. ...it is Mr. Lam's analysis of President Hu's complex political patronage, his artful deference to party elders, and his management of an often disharmonious relationship with former president Jiang that gives the reader insight into this consumate politician." -- Far Eastern Economic Review
"A particular strength of Lam's book is that it touches on all aspects of Chinese life: The farmers, the workers, the military, and the newly rich sons and daughters of the Communist Party elite who have plunged into lucrative businesses. ...a must-read for those who care about China's rise and its meaning for us all." -- Radio Free Asia
"[Lam] shows that he has exceptionally good sources for understanding developments among the 'fourth generation' of Chinese Communist leaders." -- Foreign Affairs
" Chinese Politics in the Hu Jintao Era is Lam's latest installment of a holistic view of Chinese politics. As usual, we should be grateful for its appearance. ... Another satisfying Willy Lam book... ever useful for those tracing the events of contemporary China. No other writer can do what Lam can do, which is to bring together most of the essential facts of Chinese politics in under 300 pages." -- The China Journal
"Scholars and policymakers should welcome this wide-ranging volume and will profit from Lam's observations on a large number of issues. Many will also appreciate his abiding concern about the need for political reforms in China. This is gloomy stuff but no less thought-provoking." -- Journal of Chinese Political Science