China Communist Party unveils new leadership

China’s new Politburo Standing Committee members (L-R) Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang and Li Zhanshu, arrive to meet with the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 25, 2017.
Reuters

China’s Communist Party revealed its new top leadership helmed by President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, breaking with recent precedent by failing to include a clear successor among the seven-man line-up.

Apart from Xi, Premier Li Keqiang was the only one to retain his spot amid sweeping changes on the Politburo Standing Committee, the height of power in China.

Li Zhanshu, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng, Wang Huning and Wang Yang were promoted, replacing five retiring members including anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan, a key Xi ally.

Here is the list of the new committee, all men, by order of seniority:

China’s new Politburo Standing Committee members (from L to R) Han Zheng, Wang Huning, Li Zhanshu, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Wang Yang and Zhao Leji, line up as they meet with the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,ÊChina October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Xi Jinping, 64, is widely seen as China’s most powerful leader since Chairman Mao Zedong.

He was once viewed as a drab “princeling” child of the elite. But since soaring to power in 2012, Xi has centralised authority under his own leadership with a signature anti-graft battle.

His political theory – “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” – was written into the Party constitution on Tuesday.

Li Keqiang, 62, as premier has overseen China’s economy for the last five years.

Li’s policies have sought to spur entrepreneurship and innovation, but he has been increasingly overshadowed by Xi, who has thrown his weight behind reforms to make state sector firms “stronger, better and bigger” and to manage financial stability.

Li Zhanshu, 67, heads the party’s General Office. He worked his way up from Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, and graduated from Hebei Normal University.

A former governor of the northeastern province of Heilongjiang and one-time party boss of the southwestern province of Guizhou, Li Zhanshu is considered one of Xi’s closest advisors and often accompanies him on overseas trips.

Their friendship dates back to their days working together in Hebei in the 1980s.

Wang Yang, 62, is a vice premier with an economic portfolio and a former party chief of Guangdong province, an export powerhouse, where he served from 2007-2012. Born into a poor rural family in eastern Anhui province, Wang went to work in a factory at age 17 to support his family after his father died.

Concerned about the impact of three decades of rapid development, he lobbied for social and political reform. However, he backed down after drawing criticism from party conservatives.

Wang Huning, 62 this month, was a top policy researcher for the party under former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, a position he has kept under Xi as head of the Central Policy Research Office.

Wang coined the “Three Represents” and “Scientific Outlook of Development” – respectively Jiang and Hu’s contributions to party thought, as well as the “Chinese Dream”, Xi’s own vision.

Wang was formerly an academic at Shanghai’s Fudan University, specialising first in international relations and then law. He is also considered one of Xi’s closest advisors.

Zhao Leji, 60, was also named the Chinese Communist Party’s new anti-corruption chief on Wednesday. He was named vice governor of the northwestern province of Qinghai in 1994 at age 37.

Zhao spent 29 years in Qinghai before being picked by Xi to serve as party boss of Shaanxi province, in the northwest, in 2007. Both Zhao and Xi are natives of Shaanxi.

Zhao heads the powerful organisation department, which oversees personnel decisions, and is a Politburo member. He has a degree in philosophy from Peking University.

Han Zheng, 63, is party chief of Shanghai, China’s financial hub, where he has spent his entire career.

Han was briefly promoted from Shanghai mayor after the then-party boss was sacked amid a corruption scandal in 2006.

He resumed his mayoral role as Xi Jinping and then Yu Zhengsheng – currently the party’s fourth-ranked leader – became party chief.

Han became Shanghai party boss in 2012.