Wen-Hsuan Tsai

Wen-Hsuan Tsai

Research Fellow, Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica

Wen-Hsuan Tsai (蔡文轩) is a research fellow at the Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. His main academic interests are Chinese political development and comparative authoritarian regimes. He has recently published articles in Asian Survey, China: An International Journal, China Review, China Journal, China Quarterly, China perspectives, Journal of Contemporary China, Journal of Chinese Political Science, Journal of East Asian Studies, Modern China, Problems of Post-Communism, and Issues & Studies. He has also published books such as The Logic of Political Reform in Mainland China: A Comparative Study of Sichuan, Guangdong, and Jiangsu (2011) (in Chinese) and co-authored Targeting the 18th Party Congress: The CCP’s Fifth Generation of Political Leaders (2012) (in Chinese).

Chinese honour guards prepare for the arrival of China’s Premier Li Qiang and Mongolia's Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene ahead of a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 28 June 2023. (Jade Gao/AFP)

China's abrupt leadership changes reveal Xi's grip on power

Taiwanese academic Tsai Wen-Hsuan looks at the recent removal and disappearances of senior Chinese officials and discusses if these events reflect a shift in political dynamics among China’s high-ups and if President Xi Jinping’s power has been challenged.
Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou speaks to the media at Taoyuan international airport after concluding his 12-day trip to China in Taoyuan, Taiwan, 7 April 2023. (I-Hwa Cheng/Reuters)

CCP achieved its objectives with Ma Ying-jeou's visit

Taiwanese research fellow Tsai Wen-Hsuan sees the recent visit to China by former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and the courtesies extended to him as a calculated move by Beijing. In the CCP's estimation, Ma’s positions are helpful to China’s narrative of peaceful reunification, and the visit may also quieten some discontent about the party's cross-strait policy.
People hold white sheets of paper in protest over coronavirus disease (Covid-19) restrictions, after a vigil for the victims of a fire in Urumqi, as outbreaks of COVID-19 continue, in Beijing, China, 28 November 2022. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

All in the plans: Social protests have little chance of weakening Xi Jinping’s leadership

While some analysts have spoken of the “white paper protests” against Covid restrictions in China as a turning point in citizen movements aggregating change, Taiwanese academic Wen-Hsuan Tsai says that the CCP had made its own calculations regarding easing China's Covid policy. Moreover, with its high-tech methods of monitoring protesters, the events of last November were well within its sights to deal with.
This file photo taken on 15 October 2022 shows a man walking past portraits of (left to right) late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong and former Chinese leaders Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and current president Xi Jinping at Yan’an Revolutionary Memorial Hall in Yan'an city, Shaanxi province, China. (Jade Gao/AFP)

Did Jiang Zemin pave the way for greater centralised rule in China?

Taiwanese academic Wen-Hsuan Tsai notes that while the late former Chinese President Jiang Zemin had pushed forward economic development during his tenure, he had neglected political reform, and in so doing, possibly paved the way for ever greater centralised rule in China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives to meet the media following the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 23 October 2022. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

The most destabilising factor with the whole of China united under Xi

Taiwanese academic Wen-Hsuan Tsai attributes the demolition of the Youth League faction after the 20th Party Congress to Xi's belief that the Communist Youth League should focus on grassroots youth work and unite Chinese youths under the party and the leader. With the whole of China's society united, what could be the most destabilising factor?
Graduating students wearing face masks attend a commencement ceremony at Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications in Chongqing, China, 22 June 2022. (CNS photo via Reuters)

[Future of China] Chinese youth under Xi Jinping’s Red Flag: Political participation as a route to riches

Under President Xi Jinping, the CCP has encouraged greater youth participation in politics, but on their terms, such as bringing in new blood through the “selected graduate” (选调生) system. However, both the youths and the Communist Party know that this is an expedient relationship that may not be for the long term. This is the fourth in a five-part series of articles on the future of China.