On Sunday, October 23, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will conclude a week-long 20th Congress. Members are expected to confirm President Xi Jinping to an unprecedented third term. On Tuesday, October 18, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported Xi’s firm control of the party could lead to a larger-than-expected change to his support team.
The report stated the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest decision-making body in the government, could see up to four senior-level leadership positions change, and close to half of the Central Committee may see new faces. SCMP noted significant governing issues in China are often made behind closed doors ahead of formal meetings.
Xi Expected To Make Significant Changes
China’s president is looking to inject new blood at the top of his government. Four of the seven members who sit on the Politburo Standing Committee are predicted to retire.
While Xi heads the Politburo, 72-year-old Li Zhanshu serves as the National People’s Congress chairman, and 68-year-old Han Zheng is Vice-Premier. The Chinese practice an unofficial retirement age of 68, but it hasn’t been held steadfastly under the president. Additionally, 67-year-old Premier Li Keqiang may be a year short of the unofficial retirement age, but the country’s constitution allows him to serve only two terms, and he must step down.
Age was once the primary factor in leadership changes, but now it’s only one part of the equation. Candidates are considered based on other factors, such as ability and background now, too.
Historically, the premier was reserved for the second or third in command of the CCP. The person in that role is responsible for China’s economy as well as its social fabric. The senior leader generally has administrative experience with at least two significant provinces and success in economic development. Having a good relationship with Xi doesn’t hurt.
It’s worth noting Xi is 69 years old and remains in office long after the informal 68 retirement age. He also serves as the General Secretary of the CCP, the President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
Neo-Authoritarian Expected To Get Spot
On Monday, the Guardian said Xi loyalist Wang Huning might secure a spot on the Standing Committee. In 1991, he wrote the book “America Against America.” He said in his travels across the United States, he encountered undisciplined and argumentative people, proving that authoritarianism was the only way to manage a large superpower. His critique became part of Xi’s philosophy, which is consistently used to attack the West.