Xi Jinping unveils China’s new leadership lineup

The seven-member Standing Committee, the inner circle of Chinese political power, was paraded in front of assembled media on the first day following the end of the 19th Communist Party Congress.

Updated - December 03, 2021 10:38 am IST

Published - October 25, 2017 08:38 pm IST - BEIJING:

 Chinese President Xi Jinping waves during a press event to introduce the new members of the Chinese Politburo in Beijing's Great Hall of the People Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017.

Chinese President Xi Jinping waves during a press event to introduce the new members of the Chinese Politburo in Beijing's Great Hall of the People Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday unveiled a new five-year leadership lineup, geared towards implementing a two-stage plan that will end in the mid-century when China hopes to become a leading developed country.

In his opening remarks on Wednesday, Mr. Xi, flanked by his brand new team, underscored that China’s two centenary goals — a “moderately” prosperous society by 2021 and an advanced socialist country by 2050 — would guide policy and political conduct in the coming decades.

“Not only must we deliver the first centenary goal, we must also embark on the journey toward the second centenary goal," he observed.

Apart from Mr. Xi, who has started his second innings as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the members of the apex Standing Committee of the Politburo include Li Keqiang.

Mr. Li has already served his first term as Premier, and headed the State Council — China’s cabinet. Other leaders in the new lineup are Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng.

President Xi introduced all members of the apex body, a day after the 19th Party Congress, held after a customary gap of five years, concluded at the Great Hall of the People.

Mr. Li is expected to continue as Prime Minister for a second term. But the portfolios of the rest of the team are yet to be announced.

Analysts say that the new Standing Committee is the result of a delicate balancing act that the CPC carried out, steered by President Xi.

“Among these seven leaders, Xi Jinping is very familiar with Li Zhanshu and Zhou Leji. They really worked as a team in the past five years,” says Cheng Li, senior fellow at the Washington based Brookings Institution, in an interview with Chinese state broadcaster China Global Television Network.

He added: “Li Keqiang and Wang Yang — they are actually the protégés of Xi Jinping’s predecessor Hu Jintao. Han Zhen and Wang Huning both worked in Shanghai — very familiar with another predecessor Jiang Zemin. So this is actually a team of rivals who will be working together. That shows the solidarity and unity of the leadership.”

Regarding specific portfolios, there is widespread expectation that Mr. Li Zhanshu, will take over as the head of China’s National People’s Congress (CNPC) — the country’s top legislative body. The decision would be in tune with President Xi’s focus on the cementing ‘Rule of Law’ in China, requiring extensive interaction with the CNPC.

 China's President Xi Jinping (C) and other new Politburo Standing Committee members (L-R) Wang Huning, Li Zhanshu, Han Zheng, Li Keqiang, Wang Yang and Zhao Leji attend a meeting with the media at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 25, 2017.

China's President Xi Jinping (C) and other new Politburo Standing Committee members (L-R) Wang Huning, Li Zhanshu, Han Zheng, Li Keqiang, Wang Yang and Zhao Leji attend a meeting with the media at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 25, 2017.

Mr. Wang Yang is likely to head the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country top advisory body tasked with generating fresh ideas.

Wang Huning, 62, the top party theorist and director of the Central Policy Research Office, appears set to assume charge of ideology, propaganda and party organisation. He is expected to play a major role dovetailed with Mr. Xi’s stress during his inaugural address that CPC members must be adequately armed with “theory” to guide their professional conduct.

Zhao Leji, currently the head of the organisation department of the party and personnel, is likely to replace Wang Qishan — China’s anti-corruption czar who has retired. Han Zheng, 63, Shanghai party chief, appears all set to become the executive vice premier, assisting Prime Minister Li.

 

The new leadership, however, does not suggest a clear succession plan. “There have been no surprises in the lineup, but the issue of the next generation of leadership remains unresolved,” says Einar Tangen, a Beijing-based Current Affairs Commentator, in a conversation with The Hindu.

Commenting on the CPC’s decision not to earmark succession, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post points out that President Xi has made a decision of “far reaching consequences”. “This opens the way for China to rethink its power transition mechanism and to give several possible candidates time to prove themselves,” the daily observed.

The new leadership is expected to advance, ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era’. On Tuesday, the CPC carried out an amendment that paired Xi Jinping’s Thought with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping — only two other leaders whose theoretical contributions have been named after them in China’s Basic Law.

 

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