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Who are the men now ruling China? Meet the members of Xi Jinping's powerful Politburo Standing Committee

The Chinese Communist Party has unveiled its new, seven-member Politburo Standing Committee that is headed by leader Xi Jinping.

Mr Xi promoted his closest allies into the Communist Party's top ruling body, further consolidating his grip on power as he secures a third term as party leader.

On Sunday, They appeared for the first time as a group before reporters at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China's ceremonial legislature in central Beijing.

Here are the men who will rule China for the next five years, in order of seniority.

Xi Jinping

The 69-year-old was re-elected as general secretary of the Communist Party, paving the way for him to secure a third term as Chinese president at the government's annual legislative sessions next March.

Mr Xi abolished the presidential two-term limit in 2018, paving the way for him to govern indefinitely.

He has consolidated power since becoming general secretary in 2012, partly through a wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign that brought down his political rivals.

This means that "elite promotions are less of a balancing act between rival factions and more of a loyalty contest within Xi's dominant faction", said Neil Thomas, senior China analyst at Eurasia Group.

Li Qiang

The former Shanghai party chief and Mr Xi confidant was promoted to number two in the party hierarchy, making him likely to be named premier at next March's legislative sessions.

It would be an unusual appointment, because Mr Li — unlike most past premiers — does not have experience as a vice-premier managing central government portfolios.

The 63-year-old rising star's prospects were seemingly in doubt after he bungled a harsh, two-month lockdown of Shanghai earlier this year, which saw residents left with a lack of access to food and medical care.

This "showcases to everyone that loyalty rather than popularity is the key for your promotion", tweeted Yang Zhang, an assistant professor at American University in Washington.

"The disaster of Shanghai lockdown did not stop Li's elevation precisely because he followed Xi's order, despite all criticism."

Mr Li is viewed as one of Mr Xi's favourites, having served as the leader's chief of staff while he was party boss of the affluent Zhejiang province between 2004 and 2007.

Zhao Leji

The 65-year-old former head of the party's top anti-corruption watchdog has remained on the Standing Committee, being promoted to number three in the party hierarchy.

Since 2012, the experienced administrator has been party secretary of two provinces and a Politburo member.

Wang Huning

Mr Xi's ideology tsar and existing Standing Committee member has been promoted to number four in the party line-up.

Dubbed the "brains behind the throne", the 67-year-old former university professor has devised ideologies for three current and former Chinese presidents, and is the architect of Mr Xi's "China Dream" slogan, as well as the country's more-assertive foreign policy.

In one of his most famous works, America Against America, he argued for the US's inevitable downfall due to wayward cultural values like decadence and individualism.

Xi Jinping secures unprecedented third term as China's most powerful ruler.

Cai Qi

Current Beijing party chief Cai Qi has been promoted to the Standing Committee and becomes the head of the General Secretariat, managing the day-to-day affairs of the party, according to a member list released by Xinhua.

The 66-year-old is seen as a close political ally of Mr Xi due to his time working under him in the provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian.

He was sent to Beijing as deputy head of the General Office of the National Security Commission in 2014, before becoming Beijing party boss in 2017.

He oversaw the successful Beijing Winter Olympics in February.

Ding Xuexiang

The low-key Politburo member and top aide of Mr Xi has been promoted to the Standing Committee — an appointment widely expected by analysts for a member of the leader's inner circle.

A familiar face hovering in the background of state media reports, the 60-year-old regularly accompanies Mr Xi on official engagements and is never far from his boss.

A former head of the Communist Party's General Office has never served as a provincial-level party boss or governor, making his appointment effectively a reward for his loyalty to Mr Xi.

The pair became close while Mr Ding served in the Shanghai party committee — Mr Xi was Shanghai's top party boss in 2007-8 — and he moved to Beijing to work as Mr Xi's personal secretary in 2013.

"If Xi's two secretaries lead the [government] State Council … it will no longer be parallel with the Party, but simply one [of] many institutions under the leadership of the Party, and of Xi," Dr Zhang tweeted .

Li Xi

The current Politburo member and party chief of economic powerhouse Guangdong province has been promoted to the Standing Committee, in an appointment widely anticipated by observers.

Mr Li, 66, was confirmed as head of the powerful Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's powerful anti-graft watchdog, in a list released by Xinhua.

He is regarded as a confidant of Mr Xi, having known him since the 1980s after working as secretary for a close ally of Mr Xi's father, revolutionary leader Xi Zhongxun.

He also built up a power base in Shaanxi, Mr Xi's ancestral province.

Who was left out?

Li Keqiang and Wang Yang, who were previously on the Standing Committee, have been removed.

Dr Chen Jie, an associate professor in political science at the University of Western Australia, told the ABC that both were supporters of economic reforms that Mr Xi has been scaling back.

He said considering the senior officials are both 67-years-old — and eligible to serve another term — their exclusion says a lot.

"It shows [Xi Jinping] intends to stay forever," Dr Jie said.

"Then again, for a one-party dictatorship, especially one that has transformed into a personal centralised political system like this, it's anybody's guess whether it will last."

Although the mechanism by which the top leadership of the CCP operates is opaque, the Standing Committee has adopted a degree of checks and balances over the past decades, such as retaining candidates from different factions.

However, Dr Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said the new line-up of Mr Xi's close associates shows a shift towards "one-man politics".

"It's clear from this term that this is Xi Jinping's regime, and Xi Jinping's regime is likely to last for many years to come," Dr Wu said.

"In general, it's a return to the Mao years."

No woman included in Chinese Communist Party's top leadership.


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