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How China's Leaders Think: The Inside Story of China's Past, Current and Future Leaders, Revised Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-08590-5
576 pages
June 2011
How China


A fascinating look at China now and in the years to come, through the eyes of those at the helm

As China continues its rapid ascent, attention is turning to its leaders, who they are, and how they view the country's incredible transformation over the last thirty years. In How China's Leaders Think: The Inside Story of China's Past, Current and Future Leaders, Revised, bestselling author Lawrence Kuhn goes directly to the source, talking with members of China's ruling party and examining recently declassified Party material to provide readers with an intimate look at China's leaders and leadership structure, visionary principles, and convulsive past, and tracing the nation's reform efforts.

Focusing on President Hu Jintao's philosophies and policies, the book looks to the next generation of China's leaders to ask the questions on everyone's lips. Who are China's future leaders? How do they view China's place in the world? Confronting China's leaders head on, Kuhn asks about the county's many problem, from economic imbalances to unsustainable development, to find out if there's a road map for change. Presenting the thoughts of key Chinese leaders on everything from media, military, banking, and healthcare to film, the Internet, science and technology, and much more, the book paints an intimate, candid portrayal of how China's leaders really think.

  • Presents a fascinating insight into how China's leaders think about their country and where it's headed
  • Asks the tough questions about China's need for reform
  • Pulls together information from over 100 personal interviews as well as recently declassified Party documents

Taking readers closer to Party officials than ever before, How China's Leaders Think documents China's thirty-year struggle toward economic and social reform, and what's to come.

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Table of Contents

About the Author vii

Acknowledgments ix

Overview: How China's Leaders Think xiii


1. Pride 3

2. Stability 14

3. Responsibility 19

4. Vision 27


5. Subjugation, Humiliation, Oppression 37

6. Reform's Epic Struggle 51

7. Tiananmen and Thereafter 66

8. What's a "Socialist Market Economy?" 73

9. How Communism Adopted Capital and Ownership 93

10. The Hidden Power of Jiang Zemin's "Three Represents" 105

11. The Driving Relevance of Hu Jintao's "Scientific Perspective on Development" 120

12. Snapshots of Economic Reform 131

13. The Countryside is Core 143

14. Rebalancing Imbalances 152

15. How Reform Permeates All Society 161

16. Here Come the Lawyers 172

17. Facing Up to Corruption 180

18. Values and the New Social Contract 187


19. Provincial Pictures of Reform 203

20. Regional Dragonheads: Pudong (Shanghai) and Binhai (Tianjin) 216

21. What to Do with State-Owned Enterprises? 225

22. The Private Business Revolution 244

23. Banking Reform: The Largest Assets and Greatest Risks 253

24. Reforming Science & Technology with Sparks & Torches 266

25. Education: When Reform and Tradition Clash 276

26. Healthcare and Medical Reform: One Doctor's Story 281

27. Media and Publishing Reform: Hidden in Plain Sight 290

28. How Telecommunications and the Internet Changed China 308

29. Diversity of Culture; Question of Censorship 320

30. How China's Leaders Love Film 331

31. Why Religion Became Important 344

32. Foreign Policy Breaks Free 361

33. What does Military Reform Mean? 379

34. Telling China's Story to the World 391


35. China's Future Senior Leaders 407

36. China's New Kind of Leaders 426

37. China's Economic Future: How Far Can It Go? 447

38. Guangdong Visions 459

39. China's Political Future: Is Reform Real? 473

40. China Threat or China Model? 491

41. China Reflections and Visions 507

Index 521

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Author Information

Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn is an international corporate strategist, investment banker, and public intellectual. For over 20 years he has worked with China’s senior leaders and advised the Chinese government. Dr. Kuhn also advises multinational companies on formulating and implementing China strategies, and Chinese companies in capital markets financings.

The author or editor of over 25 books, Dr. Kuhn is often in the media (e.g., CNBC, Euronews, BBC, BusinessWeek, Xinhua News Agency), discussing China’s politics and economy and the philosophies and policies of its senior leaders. He is senior international affairs commentator on Euronews, the leading television news network in Europe, and senior international commentator of China Central Television (CCTV News).

Dr. Kuhn works with China’s leaders on special projects. He is the author of The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin—the first biography of a living Chinese leader published in China and China’s best-selling book of 2005. He is the author of two event-marking books: China 30 Years: A Great Transformation Of Society, which commemorates China’s 30th anniversary of reform and opening up and features President Hu Jintao; and How China’s Leaders Think (the first edition of this book), which commemorates China’s 60th anniversary and focuses on China’s new (“Fifth”) generation of leaders. Dr. Kuhn has visited more than 40 cities in over 20 provinces and regions in China. He is senior advisor to CCTV and Xinhua.

Dr. Kuhn is chairman of The Kuhn Foundation, which produces Closer To Truth, the public television / PBS series on science and philosophy (which Dr. Kuhn hosts)—www.closertotruth.com. He has an A.B. in human biology (John Hopkins), a Ph.D. in anatomy / brain research (UCLA) and an S.M. in management (MIT).

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