China’s Xi takes helm for third term, unveils new leadership team stacked with allies
BEIJING - President Xi Jinping has further consolidated his power by stacking his leadership team with his political allies.
The new Politburo Standing Committee, made up of seven men, includes four newcomers, all Xi loyalists.
A shocking exclusion is vice-premier Hu Chunhua, who had been tipped to be promoted.
Another surprise is the elevation of Shanghai party chief Li Qiang to No. 2. He is set to be the next premier. Mr Li came under flak for his handling of the Shanghai Covid-19 outbreak.
The new team in order of rank: Mr Xi, 69; Mr Li Qiang, 63; Mr Zhao Leji, 65; Mr Wang Huning, 67; Mr Cai Qi, 66; Mr Xi’s top aide Ding Xuexiang, 60; and Guangdong party chief Li Xi, 66.
Mr Li Xi will likely be the next anti-corruption czar, after emerging as the top-ranking official among 133 members newly elected to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Saturday.
The four new seats were vacated by Premier Li Keqiang, 67, third-ranked Mr Li Zhanshu, 72, fourth-ranked Mr Wang Yang, 67, and seventh-ranked Mr Han Zheng 68, who will retire.
The exclusion of Mr Hu Chunhua, a protege of former leader Mr Hu Jintao and a member of the Communist Youth League faction, is an indication that Mr Xi has consolidated enough power to dispense with the balance of factional power.
The wider Politburo and Central Military Commission leaders will also be made known on Sunday.
After the unveiling of the top leadership on Sunday, Mr Xi told the press that he and his new team will continue to lead the world’s second-largest economy to “even greater success” after achieving the twin economic miracles of growing rapidly, while maintaining strong fundamentals.
“China will be opening its doors ever more widely,” Mr Xi said.