In unprecedented third term, China’s Xi fills top team with acolytes


BEIJING: China’s Xi Jinping secured a precedent-breaking third leadership term on Sunday and introduced a top governing body stacked with loyalists, cementing his place as the country’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong.
Shanghai Communist Party chief Li Qiang followed Xi onto the stage at the Great Hall of the People as the new politburo standing committee was introduced, putting him in line to become premier when Li Keqiang retires in March. The other members of the seven-man standing committee are Zhao Leji and Wang Huning, who return from the previous committee, and newcomers Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang and Li Xi. Li Qiang is also new to the standing committee. All are seen by analysts to have close allegiance to Xi, the son of a Communist Party revolutionary who has taken China in a more authoritarian direction since rising to power in 2012. Reuters
These 7 will lead China
A look at the seven men making up the Communist Party of China’s all-powerful politburo standing committee for the next five years.
1. Xi Jinping: Xi laid down the conditions for his continuation in power with the elimination of term limits. Even before then, he had sidelined rivals and accumulated ultimate authority by assuming the leadership of working groups operating outside the ministries that oversee everything from national security to economic policy.
2. Li Qiang: Li Qiang, 63, has been party secretary of Shanghai since 2017 and was parachuted into the politburo standing committee, possibly as a future premier. The Shanghai post is China’s most important and was previously held by Xi, former President Jiang Zemin and former Premier Zhu Rongji.
3. Zhao Leji: Since 2017, Zhao Leji, 65, has run the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s much-feared body for policing corruption. That has made him a key figure in Xi’s campaign to bring party members inline that has at times been characterised as a vehicle for eliminating opponents and instilling loyalty. He is now in line to head the National People’s Congress, the largely ceremonial legislature. Zhao, like Xi, is a second-generation party member and unconfirmed accounts say their fathers were friends.
4. Wang Huning: Longtime party political theorist Wang Huning, 62, has been a member of the politburo standing committee since 2017 and moves up from fifth position, reflecting his status as one of Xi’s most important advisers. The fourth spot usually goes to the head of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the advisory group to the NPC that also oversees non-Communist groupings, religious organisations and minority groups. Wang has largely been in charge of party ideology as an adviser to a succession of leaders.
5. Cai Qi: Cai Qi, 66, is another newcomer, who has a long-established relationship with Xi. As with Xi, Cai worked in the coastal provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, arriving in Beijing in 2016 first as mayor before being promoted to the top spot of party secretary the next year. He brought the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in on time and with relatively little disruption and has carried out “zero-Covid” strategy without massive upheaval seen in Shanghai.
6. Ding Xuexiang: As head of the general office since 2017, Ding Xuexiang, 60, holds one of the most important bureaucratic positions in the party, with sweeping control over information and access to officials. Ding is often among the few officials attending sensitive meetings alongside the general secretary. That has earned him the sobriquets “Xi’s alter ego” and “Xi’s chief of staff”.
7. Li Xi: Li Xi’s (66) elevation appears to come in recognition of his success in promoting integration between Guangdong, with its technology centre of Shenzhen, and international finance hub Hong Kong. He has also been named to succeed Zhao Leji as head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

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