Groupthink and gridlock in China's fifth generation

China’s new leaders have been vested with great hopes for reform but deep factional divisions in the Politburo mean real change will be elusive.

Ten years ago, Western China-watchers welcomed the ascension of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Allegedly from the ‘liberal’ side of Chinese politics, many expected the Hu-Wen team to further liberalise the economy and modernise the country’s political institutions. Premier Wen even spoke convincingly about gradually introducing democracy to China. It was not to be. The contemporary record shows that the country has moved backwards on many economic and political measures in important respects.

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