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China reveals top leaders, Xi’s successor not known

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Beijing, Oct 25 (IANS) China on Wednesday announced its five new leaders who will join President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang in the elite Politburo Standing Committee which rules the world’s most populous country of 1.3 billion.

A day after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) ended, Xi Jinping, re-elected the party General Secretary for a second five-year term, introduced the new five members of the Standing Committee.

The Standing Committee is the supreme body of the CPC, the world’s largest political body with 89 million members.

The five — Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng – will replace the outgoing members due to the unofficial retirement age of 68.

Going by the unofficial retirement rule, all five should retire from the Standing Committee in 2022, which means none of them is likely to succeed Xi Jinping who will be 69 then.

There have been speculations that Xi is eyeing a third term for the post of CPC General Secretary, China’s top post.

Going by the numerical order the five were introduced, Li Zhanshu will be no.3 in the Standing Committee.

The 67-year-old has been Xi’s chief of staff and may well be the country’s next Wang Qishan – the feared anti-graft czar.

Li may also get Chairmanship of National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp Parliament.

He has accompanied Xi to the all crucial trips including the US where the President met his American counterpart Donald Trump.

It is said Li worked a great deal for Xi to get the title of “core”.

Wang Yang, one of the four Vice Premiers, has served as the party chief of megacities like Chongqing and Guangdong.

Once a manual labourer, Wang is reported to have played key role in China’s anti-poverty campaign which is close to Xi Jinping. He has a vast administrative experience.

Wang Huning, 62, is an adviser to Xi and played the same role during the reins of Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin.

He is said to be one of the few who enjoys the support of all three leaders. Some also call him “chief adviser of Zhongnanhai” (China’s seat of power) and “China’s Kissinger”.

A former academic who is fluent in French, he is the Director of the Central Policy Research Center of the CCP Central Committee.

Zhao Leji comes from China’s coal capital Shannxi where Xi is from. According to reports, Xi Jinping’s father, Xi Zhongxun, was a friend of Zhao’s father.

Zhao, who rode to power like a star, has served in key positions during the leadership of former President Hu Jintao. He has overseen the Central Organisation Department which sees the appointment every big and small government institution.

Han Zheng, 63, is from Shanghai. Like Xi, he was also forcibly sent down to a county during the Cultural Revolution. He has spent his entire career in Shanghai.

Xi was Han’s boss in 2007 in Shanghai.

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