Abstract: China watchers could hardly imagine a more timely, authoritative and original piece of work than the one under review. This is because this year’s leadership transition at the helm of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping has arguably laid to rest Deng Xiaoping’s long‐running ‘hide and bide’ (taoguang yanghui 韬光养晦) policy, if not in substance than surely in form.
Evidence to that effect was on full display, for example, in Trinidad and Tobago last June, when Xi and First Lady Peng Liyuan touched down in the small oil‐rich island for a state visit. There was something unmistakably ostentatious – almost a swagger – in Peng’s turquoise attire and Xi’s matching tie, as the pair strode down the gangway. Such a swagger would have been less remarkable had this been any other first couple. Yet, perhaps owing to the haunting memory of Jiang Qing, Chinese first ladies had hitherto shunned the limelight. Also, in comparison to Xi, there is something very drab in how Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao now seem to have conducted themselves in public.