Neither controversy is of his making, they said.
The Hainan rules were not handed down from Beijing and they were a year in the writing, said Hong Nong (洪農), deputy head of maritime law and policy research at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies. And the new passports began to be issued by the Ministry of Public Security before the leadership transition last month.
“I don’t think these two things can be combined and regarded as a new posture of the Chinese government,” said Zhu Feng (朱鋒), at Peking University’s Center for International and Strategic Studies.
Even if Xi were inclined to a tougher stance in the region, it is probably too early for him to tweak a major policy, particularly one as sensitive as the South China Sea.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), Xi’s predecessor as party chief, remains as head of government until he also steps down from that role in March.
In the meantime, Hu’s people are still influencing foreign policy, said Taylor Fravel, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.