The moment you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived, the members of the 19th Politburo Standing Committee have officially been announced (drumroll, please): Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng.
Xi and Li Keqiang are the two returning members on China’s top ruling council with the other five previous members being aged out, including China’s top graft buster Wang Qishan. The new members are all men in their sixties and include no obvious successors to Xi after his second term is up in 2022.
The seven Politburo Standing Committee members took the stage at the Great Hall of the People earlier today in a twice-in-a-decade, carefully choreographed piece of political theater at the first plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. While everyone has heard of Xi and Li Keqiang, the other members are much less well known:
Li Zhanshu, 67, is the current Director of the General Office of the CPC and the chief of the General Office of the National Security Commission. Previously serving as the governor of Heilongjiang, Communist Party secretary of Guizhou and the party secretary of Xi’an, Li is seen as one of Xi’s most trusted members of his inner circle.
Wang Yang, 62, is one of four vice-premiers under Li Keqiang. He is widely considered as one of China’s top reformers, at least in an economic sense. As the Communist Party secretary of Guangdong, he pioneered the Guangdong model of development, placing an increased emphasis on private enterprise in contrast to Bo Xilai’s Chongqing model. Over the last five years, he has been charged with eliminating extreme poverty in China, one of Xi’s pet projects. However, he also comes from the Communist Youth League faction of the party, which has fallen on hard times under Xi.
Zhao Leji, 60, goes from being in charge of managing the careers of millions of party officials as the head of the powerful Organization Department of the CPC to now rooting out their corrupt practices as the new secretary of the Central Committee on Discipline Inspection. Zhao has roots back in Xi’s home turf of Shaanxi province where he served as party committee secretary.
Han Zheng, 63, is the party boss in Shanghai where Jiang Zemin continues to hold sway. According to the South China Morning Post, he is slated to take over as the head of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the fourth-ranked job in the party hierarchy.
Wang Huning, 62, stands out from the rest of his fellow Standing Committee members. Rather than having served as the head of a province or municipality, Wang is a political theorist who has helped to developed the political thoughts of the last three administrations, credited with being one of the minds behind “Three Represents,” “Scientific Outlook on Development,” and, of course, the “Chinese Dream.”
Notably left off this list are rising political stars, like new Chongqing party chief Chen Miner, 57, and Guangdong party chief Hu Chunhua, 54, who could have been seen as possible successors to Xi. Instead, Xi has chosen his team based on seniority, opting for political continuity and stability rather than vaulting a protege up the political ladder.
Sources say new Politburo Standing Committee plans "new look" to counter accusations of lack of youth. pic.twitter.com/j1560i6k52
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) October 25, 2017
Xi has emerged from the 19th Party Congress as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao with his own political ideology being enshrined in the Communist Party constitution as party members and schoolchildren will now be asked to study and develop “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” With no obvious successor appointed, we might well be seeing Xi, who’s now 64 years old, select another new crew in five years time.
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