20 minutes late, Xi Jinping leads the new Politburo Standing Committee on stage.
As my colleague Bridget O’Donnell revealed this morning, the brand new Politburo Standing Committee has been announced, the make-up of which is largely the same as that predicted weeks ago, but what does this all mean for China, and the world?!
The New York Times has published an infographic introducing China’s new leaders:
In an accompanying article, NYT star China reporter Edward Wong calls the new Standing Committee as a victory for the ‘princeling’ faction of the CPC:
The ascension of Mr. Xi and other members of the “red nobility” to the top posts means that the so-called princelings have come into their own as a prominent political force. Because of their parentage, they believe themselves to be the heirs of the revolution that succeeded in 1949, endowed with the mandate of authority that that status confers.
As predicted, Hu Jintao has also stepped down as head of the Chinese Military Council (CMC), to be succeeded by Xi Jinping. This, Wong says, “gives Mr. Xi a stronger base from which to consolidate his power, even as he grapples with the continuing influence of party elders.”
Reuters’ Sui-Lee Wee and Ben Blanchard saw little reason to be positive about this “older, conservative” Standing Committee, which Wee characterised as “cagey, colorless and controlled”.
The line-up belied any hopes that Xi would usher in a leadership that would take bold steps to deal with slowing growth in the world’s second-biggest economy, or begin to ease the Communist Party’s iron grip on the most populous nation.
Wee and Blanchard mourned the Standing Committee that might have been:
One source said an informal poll was held by over 200 voting members in the party’s central committee to choose the seven members of the standing committee from among 10 candidates. Two of them who had strong reform credentials – Guangdong party boss Wang Yang and party organization head Li Yuanchao – failed to make it, along with the lone woman candidate Liu Yandong.
According to anonymous party sources, Wang and Li were blocked from ascension to the Standing Committee due to suspicions among party elders that they were “too liberal”.
Wang and Li Yuanchao could make it to the standing committee at the next party congress in 2017, perhaps along with so-called “sixth generation” leaders like Inner Mongolia party chief Hu Chunhua.
Writing in Foreign Policy, Geoff Dyer gives Xi Jinping 100 days “to make his mark”:
The challenges facing Xi are less dramatic than SARS, but just as dangerous to the party — a stalling economy, a nasty territorial dispute with Japan, and a growing sense of disillusionment with the heavy-handed political system. Like his predecessors, Xi needs to use his honeymoon period to provide a new sense of direction, before the problems start to engulf him and his team of new senior leaders.
Xi’s first task over the next few months will be to try to forge a consensus among the new group of senior leaders about which reforms they need to embrace. The bold route would be to support a package of measures aimed at making the economy — and in particular, the allocation of credit — more efficient. The likely measures would include liberalizing parts of the financial system and exposing some of the large state-owned groups to more competition. This sort of agenda has been promoted in recent years by Wang Qishan, who ascended to the Politburo Standing Committee this Thursday.
The Guardian‘s Tania Branigan notes the gender homogeneity of the new Standing Committee:
As expected the standing committee is entirely male, although there are now two female members of the 25-strong Politburo thanks to the elevation of the Fujian party secretary, Sun Chunlan. She joins Liu Yandong, who some had hoped could reach the top body this year.
Shanghaiist’s Bridget O’Donnell highlights the only true controversy in the lineup, Wang Qishan’s choice of clothing:
Wang Qishan wearing a blue tie: what does it mean? Uncool one in the group? Secretly angry to be named Discplinary head, so he’s protesting?
— Bridget O’Donnell (@bridgers) November 15, 2012
Wang’s is the first non-red tie worn by a Politburo Standing Committee member since 1992.