Following the Leader: Ruling China, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping

Following the Leader: Ruling China, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping

Following the Leader: Ruling China, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping

Following the Leader: Ruling China, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping


With unique access to Chinese leaders at all levels of the party and government, best-selling author David M. Lampton tells the story of China's political elites from their own perspectives. Based on over five hundred interviews, Following the Leader offers a rare glimpse into how the attitudes and ideas of those at the top have evolved over the past four decades. Here China's rulers explain their strategies and ideas for moving the nation forward, share their reflections on matters of leadership and policy, and discuss the challenges that keep them awake at night.

As the Chinese Communist Party installs its new president, Xi Jinping, for a presumably ten-year term, questions abound. How will the country move forward as its explosive rate of economic growth begins to slow? How does it plan to deal with domestic and international calls for political reform and to cope with an aging population, not to mention an increasingly fragmented bureaucracy and society? In this insightful book we learn how China's leaders see the nation's political future, as well as about its global strategic influence.


“Mao was great because he made China unified/independent.
Deng Xiaoping opened China. And Jiang Zemin, he let the
Chinese people have a normal life. Before, when I was young,
my folks told me not to make political mistakes. Now I can
tell my kids to learn in school well and they can be million
aires. The environment is now free, more relaxing. People
now like to go see Titanic [the movie], and one lady saw it
nine times and cried every time. Enjoy everyday life, this is
our new idea. Before we had to talk about contributing to the
masses. But we came to the world to enjoy our short lives. A
normal life is very important for Chinese. In the Cultural
Revolution I was a Red Guard, and my daughter was
surprised and said I had been a bandit. In my house, growing
up, before every meal, before a picture on the wall of Mao
[Zedong], we recited quotations from Mao. Now it seems
funny to have done such stupid things.”

—Secretary-general of a special event, July 2003, Beijing

Based on 558 interviews with Chinese leaders, on case studies, and on innumerable documents, this book humanizes China’s extraordinary course of development since Deng Xiaoping’s 1977 return to power, examining domestic politics, foreign relations, natural and manmade disasters, civil-military relations, and the Chinese style of negotiating. This volume reveals the human frustrations China’s leaders feel, the nightmares disturbing their sleep, and the sheer scale of the challenges they face. Challenges run the gamut from meeting rising political expectations and keeping the economic juggernaut going, to providing citizens breathable air and potable water and reassuring an apprehensive world that Beijing’s growing power is not a threat. In the second decade . . .

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