Loyal and Experienced, China's Other Top Leaders Take Posts
. The six men who serve on the ruling Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee with Chinese leader Xi Jinping have taken up their new portfolios.
TAIPEI (AP) -- After Xi Jinping's third and most recent five-year term of office as President, the six other members of the Politburo Standing Committee, which is the ruling Communist Party, received a record-breaking third term. They are now ready to start taking up their new portfolios.
All are party veterans who have close professional and personal ties to Xi (China's most powerful figure in decades).
The party's second in command Li Qiang, who is nominally in charge the Cabinet and caretaker for the economy, is widely believed to be the most important.
Li is most well-known for his brutal, 'zero COVID' lockdown of Shanghai last spring.
Soon after Xi received unanimous approval by the National People's Congress (NPC), Zhao Leji, the third-ranking official of the party was appointed to oversee the almost 3,000-member ceremonial legislature.
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Han Zheng, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee from October to October, was elected vice president.
The Politburo Standing Committee is dominated by men, a sign of the dominant male nature of China's political elite. After the departure of Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, the Politburo Standing Committee, which had only four female members in the 1990s, has lost all its female representatives. The Central Committee, which has 200 members, is still 95% male.
Here are some details about the current members of the standing committee in order by party rank.
Li Qiang, who is thought to be the closest official to Xi and nominally in charge the Cabinet and caretaker for the economy, is widely expected to become premier. Li is most well-known for imposing a strict 'zero COVID' lockdown in Shanghai last spring, as party boss at the Chinese financial hub. This was to prove his loyalty to Xi despite complaints from residents about their inability to access basic services, food, and medical care.
Li, 63 years old, met Xi while Li was head of Zhejiang (a wealthy southeastern region now known for its technology and manufacturing strength).
Zhao Leji, a relic from the Politburo Standing Committee's past, won Xi's trust to head the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection's anti-corruption watchdog. This anti-graft campaign has frozen any opposition to the leader.
Zhao, 66 years old, was elected head of the National People's Congress (and its standing committee), which handle most legislative work. There were no other candidates nor dissenting votes, as was the case with Xi, who was also appointed head of the government commission that oversees the military.
Wang Huning, another member of the standing committee, is also an academic. He was a professor of international political studies at Shanghai's Fudan University, and a senior advisor to two of Xi’s predecessors. Wang Huning, 67, is unusual for a top official as he has never held office at the central or local government levels.
Wang is well-known for his books critiquing Western politics. He is expected to become the head of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. This advisory body, which works in conjunction with the party's United Front Department to increase the Xi's image and influence abroad, is expected to be named as Wang.
Cai Qi, the leader of the capital from 2017, oversaw the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in the COVID-19 pandemic. This victory has been hailed by the party. Cai Qi, 67, oversaw the expulsion of thousands of migrants from poor urban areas. He also kept COVID cases in Beijing relatively low, without taking the drastic measures that were used in Shanghai and other places.
Cai, who has a doctorate of economics, was also able to enter Xi's political circle in Zhejiang. Cai, who was an early adopter Chinese social media, is also one of the few high-ranking officials to have visited Taiwan. He praised the ubiquitous convenience stores on the island in a 2012 Caixin magazine article. He is expected to take charge of messaging and propaganda.
Ding Xuexiang, the director of the party’s General Office since 2017, has effectively served as Xi’s chief of staff. He was present at state visits and meetings to foreign leaders. Ding, like Wang, has never held government office. However, he sits at the Politburo's center of party affairs.
Ding, who is still just 60 years old, saw his career take off when he was made secretary to Xi in his short term as Shanghai party chief. Ding is likely to be the first vice premier responsible for administrative matters.
Li Xi was 66 years old when he was appointed to the standing committee. Guangdong is China's richest region and home to its vast manufacturing sector. He was previously the party secretary for Mao Zedong's famous revolutionary base of Yan'an. He had been an early pioneer in what's known as red tourism, which promotes sites that are a part of the party's past before its 1949 takeover.
Li, a close confidante of Xi, has been appointed to replace Zhao at the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.