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China’s President Xi Jinping consolidates – draws loyalists into new leadership line-up

Xi Jinping wants to make China the world’s most powerful economy by 2035

Chinese President Xi Jinping has unveiled his new leadership line-up, hauling four new faces in the seven-member Standing Committee of the Politburo, the country’s top leadership platform.

With Xi as the head for a third-precedent breaking term, four new faces and rising stars– stars Li Qiang, Li Xi, Ding Xuexiang and Cai Qi have been injected into China’s highest decision-making body. Apart from Xi, those who carry on from the previous Standing Committee are the 67-year-old ideology Tsar Wang Huning, and China’s anti-corruption Samurai Zhao Leji who is two years younger. Former Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Wang Yang, the head of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s “parliament” have been shown the door.

Xinhua news agency is reporting that the new leadership hierarchy comprises:  Party General Secretary Xi Jinping, 69, Li Qiang, 63, Zhao Leji, 65, Wang Huning, 67, Cai Qi, 66, Ding Xuexiang, 60 and Li Xi, 66.

That would mean that Li Qiang will become China’s next premier, as the second name after the leader is bestowed with the Premier’s position.

Cai Qi is the first secretary of the party’s secretariat. He takes over from Wang Huning – and will be responsible for the day-to-day running of key party affairs.

The third ranking Zhao Leji, is likely to head the National People’s Congress, while Wang Huning will take over the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference– an important platform that builds support from people who are not part of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Li Xi will head the powerful anti-corruption body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, taking over from Zhao Leji. These positions will be officially confirmed in March at the annual national legislative session.

The Politburo’s size has been reduced to 24, one person fewer than last time. There are no women members in the second leadership rung.

The Standing Committee now comprises of individuals who have been long associated with Xi, meaning that the Chinese leader has rid the highest decision-making body of factions, such as those belonging the one-time powerful Communist Youth League (CYL) or other who pursued former iconic leader Deng Xiaoping’s path of focusing on reforms and the economy, avoiding political confrontations.

Consequently, Xi is expected to be focused on achieving the key centenary goal of railing China to the path of becoming the world’s most powerful economy by 2035, and achieving the “Chinese Dream” of being an unrivalled power in all spheres of human endeavour by 2049, a year marking 100 years of the formation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). En route, the Chinese leader is expected to follow an aggressive foreign policy, taking a big risk as the Chinese military, though strong on equipment, has untested  human capital to triumph in big, tech-intensive and complex battlefields of the 21 st century.

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