Sacking high-level officials for corruption, slowing growth rates, seething tensions with Japan, a US summit at Sunnylands: Chinese President Xi Jinping's first hundred days in office have not been dull. But do they offer any clues as to whether his tenure will be different from his predecessors'?
Before his formal assumption of China's presidency on March 14, many hoped Xi Jinping and the new leadership would take bold steps to move China forward in areas where there has long been paralysis, especially on human rights and political reforms.
Xi's early speeches reinforced these expectations: he portrayed himself as a reformer, promised a more responsive government, issued orders against lavish displays of wealth by officials and even launched prosecutions against some cadres for corruption.
Xi's government hinted at reforms to notorious state systems, including the "hukou" residency registration, which discriminates against rural migrants, the petitioning system and the "re-education through labor (RTL)" system, which arbitrarily detains individuals for up to four years without trial. The downgrading of the power of the internal security chief also raised hopes the ballooning "stability maintenance" machinery that ensured the suppression of dissent might finally be curbed.
It's probably unrealistic to expect Xi to turn around long-standing Chinese government practices within 100 days. But it is not unreasonable to hope that a new leadership serious about fundamental reforms would back off punishing individuals who are pressing the government to fulfill precisely those promises.
On March 31, two weeks after Xi became China's president, four people were detained for unfurling banners in a Beijing public square calling on the government to implement a policy to require officials to publicly disclose their assets.
(Read More: Corruption Worsens Amid Deep Distrust of Government)
Since then, police have detained and arrested 11 more for allegedly participating in the same campaign. In early June—just a few months after the head of China's Political and Legal Committee promised to "stop using RTL" by year's end — Beijing filmmaker Du Bin was detained for "creating a disturbance" after he released a documentary on the use of gruesome torture in a RTL facility.
While Xi vowed in March to, "always listen to the voice of the people," the Chinese government has not relaxed controls over freedom of expression or assembly.
In May, the party-state issued a directive to universities ordering them to steer clear of discussing a list of seven taboo subjects including "universal values," such as human rights, and another one calling on these institutions to strengthen the "ideological education" of young lecturers, according to media reports.