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Xi era unlikely to end soon as new leadership line-up shows no sign of successor

The seven member Standing Committee of the Politburo led by Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping is unlikely to hang his boots anytime soon as the new leadership line-up represented by the 7-member Standing Committee of Politburo shows no sign of a successor.

In the past, the choice of successor was governed by at least three parameters. First, the new leader must not be below 67. Second, he must have varied administrative experience which includes a tenure as Party Secretary in a province, and holder of a major position in Beijing. Third, he must have served at least one term as the Standing Committee member of the Politburo. Both Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, Xi’s predecessors, had met the triple criteria.

When he succeeded former leader Hu Jintao, Xi had checked all the boxes. Ten years ago, he was less than 60, and had accumulated, served as Party secretary in Shaanxi and Zhejiang provinces apart from holding goverership of Fujian. Finally for two-terms he was represented on the Politburo’s Standing Committee platform.

Only one among the six other Standing Committee members fit the age profile. Li Qiang is 63, Zhao Leji, 65, Wang Huning, 67, Cai Qi, 66, and Li Xi, 66. Only Ding Xuexiang, is 60, and would be 65, below the 68 year limit when the 21st Party Congress assembles in 2027.

Though age may be on his side, Ding simply does not have the administrative experience that would make him eligible to become the General Secretary of the Comminist Party of China—a position that Xi holds along with a largely ceremonial rank of President and the Chairman of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Ding has not been a provincial party secretary. Neither has he held a major public office in Beijing. In all probability, he will serve as Vice Prime Minister under Li Qiang, who is expected to become the new Premier, succeeding Li Keqiang, who has been shown the door.

In the absence of a clear successor, Xi’s authority will remain unchallenged. In all probability, the stage is set for Xi, 69, to assume a fourth term in office, which will end in 2032, unless he is forced to pull out due to ill-health or any other unforeseen reason.

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