China’s ruling Communist Party on Wednesday unveiled its core decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, headed by President Xi Jinping. Here is the list of the new panel by order of seniority:
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) Li Zhanshu, 67, heads the party’s General Office. 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 advisers and often accompanies him on overseas trips. Their friendship dates back to their days working together in Hebei in the 1980s.
4) 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 family in eastern Anhui province, Wang went to work in a factory at age of 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.
5) Wang Huning, 62, was a top policy researcher 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 the 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 advisers.
6) Zhao Leji, 60, was 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 an age 37. Zhao spent 29 years in Qinghai before being picked by Xi to serve as party boss of Shaanxi province 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.
7) Han Zheng, 63, is party chief of Shanghai, China’s financial hub. 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.