On Sunday, all eyes are on the revelation of the top leadership of the Communist Party.
The new members of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee, China’s most powerful decision-making body, will make their first appearance at the Great Hall of the People at a time expected to confirm Xi Jinping’s likely move to a third term. to break the rules and cement his place as China’s most powerful leader in decades.
Party members who follow Xi around the room as new committee members will reveal much about the extent of his influence within the opaque inner workings of elite party politics, and could provide clues as to whether he sees his rule stretching further. three terms.
This is what to see:
Open seats. In recent years, the standing committee has included seven members, who typically retire according to an unofficial retirement age that sees those over 68 at the time of congressional retirement. This year, however, two additional members, Li Keqiang and Wang Yang, 67, neither of whom are believed to be close allies of Xi, will also resign, leaving room for a sweeping shakeup that will see four new posts filled.
Allies and protected. A strong indicator of Xi’s power will be the extent to which he can fill those vacant posts with party members in his circle. Several Xi protégés and allies have been singled out by China’s political elite observers as possible candidates for promotion. They include Chongqing party chief Chen Min’er, 62, Ding Xuexiang, 60, who heads the Communist Party General Office, and Shanghai party chief Li Qiang, 63.
potential successor. Experts will watch to see if there will be a young face, and a potential successor, on the standing committee, which could indicate whether or not Xi is aiming for a fourth term. The lack of a successor among the lineup at the last Party Congress in 2017 served as a strong signal that Xi planned to break recent precedent and claim a third term, a long-time calculated move expected to materialize tomorrow. .
Selection process. While the new members of the committee, and the larger 25-member Politburo of which it is a part, will be formally approved by the party’s newly formed Central Committee, it is believed that the real decisions about who fills the highest posts in the Party will be made at the months before this week’s events in closed-door discussions between top party leaders.