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Elizabeth Economy – Xi Jinping: China’s Paramount Leader

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In March the Chinese National People’s Congress removed constitutional term limits on the position of the President, meaning current President Xi Jinping could serve as his country’s leader for life. Elizabeth Economy, the Director of Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, will discuss this development, which shocked many both inside and outside China, at a LAWAC lunch on Wednesday, May 9. Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, promising reforms, but in his first term he did the opposite, tightening the communist party’s grip on power, restricting citizens’ access to free information and adopting a more aggressive nationalistic posture in China’s foreign relations. Economy, one of the top China experts in the US, will look at the changes underway in China today, its aim to reclaim its past glory as it recasts itself as a great world power, the frictions it faces with the US, its economic successes and the challenges it still faces.

Above all she will talk about Xi Jinping himself, whose personal power now appears to exceed any recent Chinese leader except Mao Zedong. Can Xi propel China to ever greater economic growth while maintaining support for state-owned industries? Is his ascension to paramount leader universally supported inside the communist party, or does he face internal opposition?

Dr Economy, who went to Swarthmore and Stanford and got her PhD from the University of Michigan, has taught at Columbia and Johns Hopkins, and is vice chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of China. Her 2004 book The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future won numerous prizes, and she has just published, with Michael Levi, By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest is Changing the World. Her most recent book is The Third Revolution, Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State.

Please reserve no later than 12:00 pm on Friday, May 4. Cancellations must be made by 12:00 pm on Friday, May 4 in order to receive a refund.