For more than a decade considerable attention has focused on the subject of leadership transition in the People's Republic of China (PRC). Who would succeed Deng Xiaoping (1904-97) and the other geriatric elites of the so-called “Long March Generation”? According to conventional wisdom, the reins of power in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and People's Liberation Army (PLA) were being transferred from poorly educated revolutionaries and guerilla fighters to technocratic bureaucrats and military professionals. 1 Since 2002, the PRC has experienced a “sweeping” turnover of Party, state, and military elites. 2 This volume examines in some detail the key personalities of the new crop of Chinese leaders both in and out of uniform—the so-called “Fourth Generation.” Moreover, contributors analyze civil-military interactions in the wake of the CCP's 16th Party Congress held in November 2002 and the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) held in March 2003, and examine key trends in strategic thought and the role of national security research institutes.
The 16th Party Congress, 10th NPC, and subsequent personnel appointments brought about and revealed significant changes in both the civil and military leadership of the PLA. Former President Jiang Zemin relinquished all of the Party and State offices, except for the critical position of chief of the Party's Central Military Commission (CMC). The retention of this post by Jiang, mirroring earlier actions by Deng Xiaoping, has effectively denied the new General Party Secretary and President, Hu Jintao, effective control of the military, which in turn, has fostered uncertainty within China over the depth of his control of the Party and the PLA.
According to James Mulvenon, in his contribution to this volume, the PLA is caught in the middle of a power struggle between CMC Chair Jiang Zemin and President Hu Jintao, his CMC deputy. Official Chinese military newspapers have called the two leaders the