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China’s palace politics: Xi Jinping loyalists compete for power

Xi Jinping uses March Ryoki — A joint meeting of China’s Rubber Stamp Congress and Political Advisory Board — confirms a series of appointments to key roles in running the world’s most populous nation and emerging military superpower.

they will mostly men he’s known since he was young Or the trusted officials Xi Jinping worked with decades before his career, or the up-and-coming ones who have demonstrated their loyalty to the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

Appointment marks Xi’s completion consolidation of power He will serve an unprecedented third five-year term as leader of the Communist Party of China. They also mark the emergence of new factions among Xi’s followers and supporters.

“A new era of factional politics is dawning,” wrote Wu Guoguang, a former adviser to former Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang, in an essay recently published by the China Leadership Monitor, a US research group. there is

“Xi’s position and powers as supreme leader are unlikely to meet a challenge from high-ranking officials of the Chinese Communist Party, but factional rivalries have already begun among various groups of Xi’s supporters,” it said. , said Wu, who is currently at Stanford University and in the United States. An Asia Society think tank based in

He Lifeng (left) is expected to succeed Liu He as China’s economic emperor, while Li Qiang, right, is set to become China’s next prime minister © FT Montage/AFP/Bloomberg

A hallmark of Xi’s leadership over the past decade has been the centralization of decision-making, which has diminished the influence of other senior leaders.He has already ditched his predecessor Hu Jintao and The late Jiang Zemin.

While not threatening Xi’s firm hold on power, the new factions vie for control and influence, and who will ultimately succeed. West top of the party.

Analysts also believe that understanding President Xi Jinping’s background, personality, ideological leanings, policy preferences and personal networks is essential to making sense of a fuzzy and often unpredictable world. increase. Chinese politics.

“From now on, factional conflicts will be inevitable… The generational change will fuel the power struggles between these sub-Xi factions that are currently forming in terms of internal elite circulation and power succession.

In his essay, Wu said the four key groups included Fujian, Zhejiang, officials who worked with Xi in Shanghai, and the northern province of Shaanxi, with which Xi’s family has close ties. there is

Huang Kunming
Huang Kunming becomes leader of the Communist Party of Guangdong province in southern China © Jason Lee/Reuters

He created 5 more groups. Among them are officials from the military and industry, those with ties to the famous Tsinghua University, members with ties to the Central Party School, and a number of people with obvious ties to President Xi Jinping’s wife, Peng Liyuan. first name, and the following groups: security department.

“Overall, [the military and industrial] The group appears to represent Xi Jinping’s new strategy for economic and technological development, which focuses on the nation’s ability to foster technological progress and on reducing the weight of the private sector in China’s economy. ”

Victor Shi, an expert on China’s elite politics at the University of California, San Diego, called the most important groups Xi formed during his time as governor of Fujian and Zhejiang provinces and the roles appointed to them. We narrowed it down to a group of northern cadres. In the party’s powerful anti-corruption body.

Xi, who hails from Fujian province, includes He Lifeng, who many expect to replace Liu He as Xi Jinping’s economic emperor. Cai Qi, the new party leader of propaganda and ideology. All of these figures overlapped with President Xi Jinping from 1999 to 2002, when he ruled the ministry.

“It’s a very powerful combination…you have to remember it was the longest period in the world. [Xi’s] career,” said Shih. “He has been in Fujian for over ten years. The place has left a deep impression on him and vice versa.”

Zhejiang officials, where Xi was party leader from 2002 to 2007, said: Li Qianga member of the Politburo Standing Committee and the frontrunner to be China’s next premier, Huang Kunming, the new party leader of Guangdong Province, and Chen Yixing, the new Minister of National Security.

Chen Li, another expert on Chinese politics at the Brookings Institution, said experts are currently in the “early stages” of understanding a new situation that is “extremely complex.”

This means starting anew with a network of leaders’ vast personal networks and an analysis of differences in policy, ideology, and influence.

Still, Joseph Trijian, an elite Chinese and Soviet-era political expert at the American University of Washington, predicts a contemporaneous deal on the premises of the secret party in Beijing that is “very bad” among China watchers. But he also draws some parallels to the Mao era, after the dictator purged his generation of leaders and promoted younger cadres.

“While we certainly see competition between these different groups who have been promoted after the last house cleanup, they mostly have an intuitive understanding of what the top leaders want and are more likely than anyone else to do so. We also played the game of giving it to its leader,” said Trijian.

The formation of factions within the upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party risks cracking down on dissidents and angering President Xi Jinping, who sees them as a threat to his rule.

In the months leading up to the party convention in October, sentenced to long imprisonment To a former judicial and public security official accused of being a member of a “political gang” unfaithful to the Chinese president.

Trijan added that such political groups in China “rarely come together as cohesive as we think of them as factions.”

“We don’t want to appear to be cooperating too much with each other, because that would be an immediate warning sign for Xi Jinping…he would want to crush it and destroy it.

Additional reporting by Cheng Leng from Hong Kong

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