Communist Party China Unveils New Leadership With no Clear Successor for Xi

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Chinese President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping, one of the seven newly elected members of the Politburo Standing Committee, attends a press event at Beijing's Great Hall of the People. VOA

China’s ruling Communist Party has unveiled a new leadership lineup for its top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of power in the world’s second-largest economy.

In a break with past precedence, however, there was no clear successor among the new appointees, yet another sign some analysts say of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s uncontested power in authoritarian ruled China.

Zhang Ming, a political analyst who recently retired from Beijing’s Renmin University, said as Xi has shifted away from collective leadership and become the party’s “core leader,” the role of the Standing Committee members has become meaningless.

“In the Xi Era there is no such thing as a successor or a need for one,” Zhang said, adding that it is difficult for the public to predict what might come next.

What is clear, he said, is that “he has successfully transformed the country’s leadership to a system centered around the ‘core’ (Xi).”

Reshuffle 

Premier Li Keqiang and Xi were the only two to remain in their posts in the Standing Committee as five other members – including the nation’s top graft-buster Wang Qishan – was retired.

Wang, a man referred to by some analysts as China’s second most powerful, has been at the forefront of a sweeping anti-corruption campaign that has not only seen more than a million rank and file members of the party punished but taken down political heavyweights and smashed party cliques as well.

Whether he will slip quietly into retirement or retain some other senior role was not immediately clear.

Political vision 

Now, things are less clear. Xi Jinping’s name and political vision for China has been written into the party’s constitution and during the 19th Party Congress, he galvanized the party’s focus on ambitious goals that stretch to the middle of this century.

Analysis of what his ultimate aim may range widely, from state media’s portrayal of him as a leader ushering in a new historic era for China to critics who see him angling toward dictatorship.

Absent from the list that was announced Wednesday were two politicians – Chongqing Party Secretary Chen Miner and Guangdong Party Secretary Hu Chunhua, widely seen as possible candidates to succeed Xi. Both Hu and Chen were given seats on the Politburo, a 25-member body one rung lower than the Standing Committee