China’s Xi Jinping broke tradition, securing a third term as the leader of the Communist Party. He has also introduced a revamped Politburo Standing Committee, as well as the Politburo Central Committee. Xi presented the new central leadership supposed to steer the party for the next five years at the Great Hall of People in Beijing.
Apart from being elected as the general secretary of the 20th Central Committee of the Communist Party Of China (CPC), the first plenary session of the committee also saw Xi being elected as the chairman of the Central Military Commission. The other six members of the Politburo are Li Qiang, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang, Li Xi, Zhao Leji, and Wang Huning. Apart from Zhao Leji and Wang Huning, all members are newcomers and are staunch Xi loyalists.
Shanghai Communist Party chief Li Qiang, 63, followed Xi onto the stage at the Great Hall of the People as the new leadership team was introduced. He is likely to succeed Li Keqiang as premier when he retires in March, who is not even included in the larger Central Committee. The Standing Committee didn’t even include an overwhelming favorite, vice-premier Hu Chunhua, who was tipped for a spot in the elite body.
The formal appointment of Xi and the Standing Committee after the week-long Congress concluded on Saturday with the appointment of the 205-member Central Committee. Essential constitutional amendments have underlined the Congress, most notably "Two Establishes" and the "Two Safeguards". The former defines Xi as the "core" leader of the party, with his ideas being the guiding principles of China's future development. Alternatively, the latter protects Xi’s "core" status within the party and the party's centralized authority over China.
Though in his address Xi mentioned his envisioning of a stronger Chinese economy, and timely reforms to open it to the world, his tenure suggests he is far more conservative regarding a moderately market-oriented system. It’s highly unlikely that China will see a relative opening of the Chinese market anytime soon, something which underlined its robust economic progress before the Xi era. The focus would remain on forwarding party ideology, namely, an aggressive expansion of military capabilities and hyper-nationalism.
With the omission of some key moderate influences from the committee, such as outgoing Premier Li Keqiang or former Guangdong party boss Wang Yang, along with the stacking of the Standing Committee with people close to Xi, Jinping is touted to be the most powerful leader of China since Mao Zedong. All in all, China is set to witness a kind of one-man show that it hasn’t witnessed in decades
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