Xi Jinping secured a historic third term on October 23, 2022, cementing his position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, and handpicking the members of the Politburo Standing Committee that will help him govern the world’s most populous nation for the next five years.
Almost all of them are new to the leadership except for Zhao Leji and Wang Huning. And the majority and loyalists of the new president.
After the conclusion of the 20th Party Congress, Xi Jinping told the media “I was reelected as the general secretary of the CPC central committee.” He also introduced the six other members in order of rank as Li Qiang, the former party chief in Shanghai; Zhao Leji, former head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI); Wang Huning, the ideology czar; Cai Qi, the former Beijing party chief; Ding Xuexiang, Mr. Xi’s chief of staff; and Li Xi, the party chief in the key economic powerhouse province of Guangdong.
A look at the men who make up the power centre of China.
Aged, 63, Second-ranked Mr. Li is likely to take over from outgoing Premier Li Keqiang as the new Premier in March. He is at present party secretary of Shanghai.
He has worked in small counties in Zhejiang province. When Xi was party chief of Zhejiang, Li served as his chief of staff. Earlier this year, his handling of Covid outbreak in Shanghai had evoked much criticism. There was speculation on whether this could have affected his political future. However, his close association and loyalty to XI has now paved his way to the top post.
At present Head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, 65 year old Zhao has close links to the Shaanxi province, much like Xi.
After entering the Qinghai provincial government, he swiftly rose up the ladder and became governor at the age of 42 – the youngest person to become a provincial governor.
He was also the head of the anti-corruption body and was responsible for maintaining party discipline and has reported a number of senior officers for accepting bribes throughout the years.
At present holding the position of First secretary of the Communist Party’s Secretariat, he is a former scholar and professor. He was recommended to then-president Jiang Zemin and promoted to become Jiang’s consultant. As the party’s political theorist, he is considered the brain behind several Communist Party concepts, including the ideologies for three leaders: the Three Represents of Jiang Zemin, the Scientific Outlook on Development of Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping Thought. China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative was also believed to be his idea.
Sixty six year old Cai, who is at present mayor of Beijing, is a close ally of Xi. He had worked under him in the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces. Beijing’s hosting of the Winter Olympics earlier this year, at the height of the pandemic, was seen within the party as a success and reflected well on him.
Director of the Office of the General Secretary and Office of the President, Ding is a trained engineer. He started his political career at a government-affiliated research centre in Shanghai. He became Xi’s secretary in 2007 though he lacked experience as a provincial-level party secretary or governor. Since 2014 he has been the head of the presidential office, effectively acting as Xi’s chief-of-staff.
As one of Xi’s most trusted aides, he has accompanied the Chinese leader for many trips within China as well as abroad – observers say he has probably spent more time with Xi than any other official in recent years.
At present Party secretary of Guangdong province, he is also a staunch Xi loyalist with close ties to the Chinese leader’s family, Li is seen as a crisis-solver for handling a 2017 scandal in Liaoning province over falsified economic data.
He was the party leader in the politically significant city of Yanan, which Mao Zedong used as the party’s headquarters during World War Two and where Xi spent seven years of hard labour.
In Guangdong, Li pushed for the development of the tech industry and economic reform. He also issued new trade policies and promoted regional integration in the area.