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China to restructure politburo today: Here are the frontrunners

A look at seven of the frontrunners to be elected to China’s all-powerful decision making body.

Written by Apurva | Beijing | Updated: October 24, 2017 11:08:24 am
xi jinping, china, chinese president, communist party congress china, xi jinping china, national congress, communist party of china, cpc, politburo standing committee, chinese communists party meeting, indian express, ieexplained, world news, beijing, indian express Communist Party delegates applaud as Xi Jinping makes a speech at the 19th party Congress on Wednesday. (AP Photo)

With five of the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) — China’s decision making body — set to retire after the ongoing 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), all eyes turn to October 24. Then, CPC is likely to announce the restructured apex body, which will reflect President Xi Jinping’s plans over the next five years.

The new PSC may also include Xi’s successor as General Secretary of the CPC, President of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. Xi was elevated to the PSC in 2007, under Hu Jintao — who was elevated to the PSC in 1997 under Jiang Zemin.

Of the present PSC, only Xi and Premier Li Keqiang can stay on till 2022, while the remaining members will be past the age of 68 years — the party set norm for retirement. Among those retiring is Wang Qishan, the head of China’s corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Wang is 69.

Others than Xi, Li and Wang, the present PSC comprises Chairman of the National People’s Congress Zhang Dejiang (71), Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Yu Zhengsheng (72), first-ranked Secretary of the CPC Secretariat Liu Yunshan (70) and vice-premier Zhang Gaoli (70).

According to CPC rules, the ongoing NC will elect the party central committee, the politburo and the PSC. New members are expected to be announced after the NC closes October 24. While the CPC processes of electing a new leadership team are not publicised, the new PSC may be drawn from 10 frontrunners.

Wang Yang
62, from Anhui Province

Posts: Vice-premier of the State Council, Politburo member

Wang served as the Party Secretary of Guangdong Province between 2007 and 2012, where his stature in the party increased after he implemented several pro-reform measures. Guangdong has remained China’s top GDP performer among China’s 33 provinces. Wang is also a member of three leading groups — task forces that advice the state council and the CPC on policy.

Hu Chunhua,
54, from Hubei Province

Posts: Party Secretary of Guangdong

The incumbent party secretary of Guangdong usually means a spot in the PSC or at least a step up to the central government. He has served in Inner Mongolia, Tibet and was among the youngest ever when appoint as Governor of Hebei. Hu is also known for a ruthless crackdown on corruption during his tenure as Guangdong chief.

Li Zhanshu,
67, from Hebei Province

Posts: Director of the General Office of the CPC

He has travelled with China’s President on almost every foreign trip. He was among the few leaders in the CPC who was elevated to as a Party Secretary while not appointed as a full member of the CPC central committee. Xi and Li have reportedly worked together since the 1980s.

Chen Min’er
56, from Zhejiang Province

Posts: Party Secretary of Chongqing

Chen’s appointment to head Chongqing is considered an indication of Xi’s confidence in him. Chen was posted to the province after the former chief Sun Zhengcai was ousted for corruption and has since been expelled from the CPC.

Han Zheng,
63, from Shanghai

Posts: Party Secretary of Shanghai

Like Guangdong province, the incumbent chief of Shanghai is also usually elevated to top CPC posts. And in Han’s case, the likelihood is greater considering the CPC’s confidence in him to crackdown on corruption. Han was appointed acting party chief of Shanghai in 2006 after a corruption scandal led to the dismissal of the then incumbent — Chen Liangyu.

Zhao Leji,
60, Qinghai

Posts: Head of the Organisation Department of the CPC

Zhao oversees promotion of CPC officials. He is part of the leading groups on discipline investigation, party building and personnel.

Wang Huning,
62, from Shanghai

Posts: Director of the Central Policy Research Office of the central committee of the CPC

He heads the policy research office of the CPC, which is responsible for giving the central committee policy-related advice on a range of issues including reform, economy and foreign policy.

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