The team of leaders who will take the helm in China beginning next year—the so-called “Fifth Generation”—will be better educated, have greater exposure to the outside world, and extensive experience implementing policies that have facilitated sustained economic growth and growing international influence. They may view issues somewhat differently than their predecessors but have risen to the top by going along to get ahead and are unlikely to propose radical policy initiatives. But they must confront a growing number of challenges fueled by China’s past success and recent behavior and will be constrained by structural features of the Chinese system and integration into the global market.
Thomas Fingar is the Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). In 2009, he was the Payne Distinguished Lecturer at FSI. From May 2005 through December 2008, he served as the first deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and, concurrently, as chairman of the National Intelligence Council.