China’s ruling Communist Party concludes a key meeting this week aimed at shoring up internal discipline and asserting General Secretary Xi Jinping’s authority. The gathering is also expected to lay the groundwork for next year’s national congress that will decide major leadership positions and lay out the agenda for Xi’s next five-year term.
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While Xi has asserted himself as the most powerful leader in decades, the 6th plenary’s theme indicates that he still faces challenges keeping rank and file party members in line with his signature anti-corruption campaign and other programs aimed at keeping the party at the heart of Chinese political life.
The meeting also highlights the underrepresentation of women in its higher echelons; no women sit on the all-powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee and just two are represented in the second highest 25-member body. While women play prominent roles in Chinese business and social life, China’s political system emphasizes patronage and networking to a degree that usually weighs in favor of men.
A look at China’s politics, by the numbers, some of which are according to official Chinese media:
Number of women on the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s most powerful body: 0
Number of women who have ever served on the Politburo Standing Committee: 0
Number of women in China: 670 million
Number of women in the Politburo: 2
Number of women who are full and alternate members of the Central Committee: 33
Number of full and alternate Central Committee members meeting in Beijing this week: around 350
Number of full and alternate Central Committee members under investigation or already punished for corruption since Xi took power: 23
Number of Communist Party members: 88.758 million
Number of party members punished for corruption since 2013: 1 million
Number of party members punished for corruption in the 2007-2012 period before Xi took power: 668,000
Number of government officials at or above deputy-ministerial level investigated for corruption under Xi: 82
Number of such officials sentenced by a court: 28
Number of such officials awaiting sentencing: 23
Number of officials at or above deputy-ministerial level investigated for corruption between the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and Xi’s taking power six decades later: 145
Customary age of retirement for officials: 68
Number of officials in the Politburo Standing Committee: 7
Number of officials in the Standing Committee who should customarily retire next year: 5
China’s population: 1.3 billion
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