China’s Xi further cements power as party congress closes
Reuters: China’s Communist Party wrapped up its twice-a-decade congress on Saturday, approving amendments cementing Xi Jinping’s iron grip on the party and revealing a new Central Committee missing two key officials lacking close ties to the leader. The Congress sets up Xi, 69, for a third five-year leadership term that would solidify his place as China’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong, the founding leader of the People’s Republic.
The party’s new 205-member Central Committee, elected by party delegates at the end of the week-long meeting, did not include outgoing Premier Li Keqiang or former Guangdong party boss Wang Yang, who had been seen as a potential replacement as premier.
Analysts said their omissions were sign the pwerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, to be revealed on Sunday, is likely to be stacked with people close to Xi.
“The main theme of this congress, as seen in the constitutional amendment and the report, is to highlight the core status of Xi,” said Chen Gang, senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute in Singapore.
“With this congress, Xi’s authority grows even more. Going forward, we will see more concentration of power around Xi and around the centre,” he said.Li, who will step down in March as premier, and Wang, who heads the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, are both 67 and therefore eligible under China’s age norms to have served another five years on the Standing Committee.
Neither is seen to have long-standing ties with Xi, who is likely to bring four new faces onto the Standing Committee, according to analysts and media reports.Li and Wang both have ties with the Communist Youth League, a once-influential group that experts say has lost power under Xi.
The premier is charged with overseeing the world’s second largest economy, although the influence of the position is widely perceived to have diminished as Xi has steadily consolidated control during his decade in power.