As the next Party Congress loomed in 2017, China’s top leaders in 2016 endorsed President Xi Jinping as the leadership “core,” a move that may allow his further consolidation of political power. The economy grew at a targeted 6.7%. Beijing challenged the new Taiwan administration, and sought to consolidate its muscle-flexing in the South China Sea. The likely direction of US relations under Donald Trump remained uncertain.
Surveying China in 2015, this article focuses on how the Xi leadership dealt with several of the most complex economic and security challenges it faced during the year, in particular: sustaining economic growth; responding to social unrest; confronting environmental problems; managing foreign relations in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea; reforming and modernizing the People’s Liberation Army; and managing cross-Strait relations.