This is a fairly decent, very brief -- but ultimately far too superficial -- treatment of the political debates current (or current 3 years ago) in contemporary China. I suspect that the GFC already has, and that the immanent coming of Xi-Li will additionally... change the equations somewhat.
The introduction and conclusion are worthless.
Chapter one places Hu and Wen clearly and helpfully in the context of the contemporary debate (2008) between the "New Right" (basically, chinese neoliberals from Shanghai and the other coastal cities -- who trace their political descent from Deng and especially from Ziang Jemin); and the "New Left" who are more moderate reformers, more concerned with problems of inequality and the environment (as Leonard tells it), and who count both Hu and Wen and the others who descend from the CCYL (Chinese Communist Youth League) and the inland provinces. Xi comes from this group, though Li is actually thought to have been Hu's special protegé. Xi, btw, is the one who has apparently come out on top, not Li.
Chapter 2 is the best. It discusses the debates about democracy in China -- and shows how China has essentially opted for the Singapore model (Lee Kuan Yew) -- which is rule by experts or by expert committee, what in the West (and in the current EZ we see this mode taking shape as we speak -- with Monti in Italy and Papademos in Athens) is called "technocratic government" (Leonard makes this point). Leonard also refers to this mode of governance as 'consensual' or 'deliberative democracy' or 'deliberative or consensual dictatorship' interchangeably. It establishes governance according to a strict rule of law (enforced by an independent judiciary), responsive to the needs of the public (that is, strong citizen participation) achieved either through petition or public hearings or by what is called deliberative polling (a concept pioneered by James Fishkin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_S._Fishkin + http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deliberative_opinion_poll) -- rather than through free and truly open elections. It is the wave of the future and, I believe, the way in which "managed" or "guided" democracy will take shape in the West in the coming decades. (Of course, in the West they will try to maintain the fiction of free elections -- but they will be, and already are, essentially a charade). This, according to Leonard, is a workable model, and is something far different from the autocracies of 20th cen. Europe.
Deliberative polling is a fascinating idea. Rather than simply polling the public, which (in China, as in the U.S.) is massively ignorant, about their "opinions", that is, the opinions of the uninformed -- they take 250 or 300 people, chosen at random or on some representative basis -- and then spend the day (or longer) actually educating them about the issues (presented by experts) BEFORE polling them....
Finally, to repeat - and I want to stress this point - Leonard shows -- though the inference is mine -- that there are, indeed, very close resemblances between Deng's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" (which, of course, was originally a form of Bukharinist 'Right Deviationism', think NEP, but which evolved into an essentially state-driven neoliberalism (think Jiang) and, as I have already said, the "technocracy" taking shape today in Europe.
The third chapter deals with foreign policy, China's conception of 'soft power' - and briefly with the emerging nationalists in the PLA - what Leonard calls the "neocomms" (who are the mirror of the US "Neocons" - but the treatment is a bit superficial. It is important, however, since many on the Right in the U.S. - try to increase the visibility of the "neocomms" in order to justify their own paranoid and militant obsessions with the "rise of China". The "neocomms" (whose house organ is Global Times) are a threat, but they are not in control in China, and media outlets like Global Times are probably being used by the regime as a steam valve.
This book is definitely worth a quick read and is, in some ways, better than the 3-stars I've given it, but is not quite worth 4 stars. So let's call it 3 & a-half or 3/4's. Perhaps I should say that if you know nothing about these matters, it is a 4-star book; but if you read a lot about these issues, it is a 3-star book.