Meet the seven men at the apex of power in China

Xi Jinping’s leadership committee will dictate Chinese policy for the next five years

The new members of the standing committee of the politburo in China. Graphic: Paul Scott

The new members of the standing committee of the politburo in China. Graphic: Paul Scott

 

China’s president Xi Jinping on Wednesday introduced the country’s top leadership, the standing committee of the politburo, of which he is chairman. The committee will be the top decision-making body in China for the next five years. Here are the seven men in order of importance:

Xi Jinping (64)

The all-powerful Xi is the son of the revolutionary leader Xi Zhongxun. When he came to power in 2012, his opera singer wife Peng Liyuan was more famous than him. Not anymore. As president, party chairman and head of the military, his political philosophy was enshrined in the party charter, making him the most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

Li Keqiang (62)

The Chinese premier’s portfolio basically involves managing the economy, although he is said to be more free market-friendly than Xi. Xi has sidestepped the English-speaking economist on occasion, especially when it comes to dealing with the big state-owned firms. Said to represent the Communist Youth League faction in the standing committee.

Li Zhanshu (67)

From Hebei province, he is a friend, ally and adviser of Xi since they worked together in the 1980s. He heads up the party’s general office and basically functioning as a kind of party whip. Showed his political chops in the rustbelt province of Heilongjiang in the northeast and in the poor province of Guizhou.

Wang Yang (62)

Tipped to join in 2012, Wang finally ascends to the standing committee. Former party boss in Guangdong and currently a vice-premier mostly focused on the economy, he was seen as a liberal reformer but has latterly adopted a more conservative approach. Expected to take a lead role in trade talks with the US.

Wang Huning (62)

The academic from Fudan University in Shanghai is a specialist in ideology and policy research, and a close adviser to Xi. He advised former leaders Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao on their political philosophies and also contributed to Xi’s “Chinese Dream”, a key element in Xi Jinping Thought. Big believer in the Chinese model of government over western-style democracy.

Zhao Leji (60)

Zhao assumes the mantle of anti-corruption chief from the retiring Wang Qishan, having formerly run the Organisation Department, which appoints cadres and other state personnel. A philosophy graduate from Peking University, Zhao spent his formative years in Qinghai. His family and Xi’s are closely linked through their roots in Shaanxi province. The Shaanxi faction is increasingly influential in Chinese politics.

Han Zheng (63)

The Shanghai party secretary was allied to former leader Jiang Zemin’s faction, but appears to have formed a bond with Xi during the president’s time as party boss in Shanghai and survived the purge of Jiang’s faction in 2006. Was behind the free trade zone experiments in Shanghai, which had mixed results, but his economic expertise is valued.

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