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Cheng Li on the future of Chinese politics

This episode of Sinica is a wide-ranging conversation with Cheng Li (李成), one of the most prominent international scholars of elite Chinese politics and its relation to grassroots changes and generational shifts. He discusses the historical rise and fall of technocracy, corruption and the campaigns against it, power factions within the Communist Party and the new dynamics of the Xi Jinping era.

Cheng Li has authored and edited numerous books and articles on subjects ranging from the politics behind China’s tobacco industry to the nature of collective leadership under Xi. He began his career as a doctor after three years of medical training in the waning years of the Cultural Revolution, then changed course in 1985 to study under scholars such as Robert Scalapino and Chalmers Johnson at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lynn White at Princeton University. He is the director of the John L. Thornton China Center and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, as well as a director of the National Committee on U.S.–China Relations.

Recommendations:

Jeremy: Hugh White’s review of The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia by Kurt Campbell
and Kurt Campbell’s reply

Cheng: The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks by Joshua Cooper Ramo

Kaiser: Scientism in Chinese Thought: 1900-1950 by D. W. Y. Kwok and Xi Jinping is No Mao Zedong by Keyu Jin

Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.