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From left to right, former Chinese President Hu Jintao, President Xi Jinping and former President Jiang Zemin attend the closing ceremony of the 19th Communist Party congress on Oct. 24.
Politics

China's Xi stacks party's upper ranks with loyalists

Party congress solidifies foundation for his second term as leader

OKI NAGAI, Nikkei staff writer | China

BEIJING -- China's ruling Communist Party concluded its twice-a-decade National Congress on Tuesday after enshrining President Xi Jinping in the party's charter and selecting core members for the next five years, laying the groundwork for Xi to install allies in the country's highest leadership posts.

Five of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee -- the top decision-making body -- are retiring, including Wang Qishan, Xi's anti-corruption chief and right-hand man. They have been removed from the newly selected Central Committee membership.

Politburo member Li Yuanchao, who rose from the ranks of the Communist Youth League like former President Hu Jintao, also will step down.

The new 204-member Central Committee holds its first plenary meeting Wednesday. It will select new members for the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee, kicking off the second term of Xi's leadership as general secretary.

A group of women pose for a picture in Tiananmen Square.

The process likely will be a formality, as most of the appointments are believed to have been finalized beforehand. Five Politburo members are expected to join Xi and Premier Li Keqiang as Standing Committee members: Central Committee General Office chief Li Zhanshu, Shanghai party secretary Han Zheng, Vice Premier Wang Yang, Central Committee organization head Zhao Leji and Central Committee policy research chief Wang Huning.

Zhao also was selected to join the party's disciplinary committee, making him a lock to become China's top corruption watchdog.

Li Zhanshu and Zhao are close to Xi. But even the other likely Standing Committee members are on good terms with the president. Most of the previous committee members were close to Jiang, and Xi had just one close ally.

Some Xi loyalists, including Chongqing party secretary Chen Min'er and Beijing party boss Cai Qi, are expected to receive promotions to the Politburo as well. Xi had appointed a number of former subordinates and other friends to key posts during his first term, preparing to bring them into the party's top leadership.

"The Xi faction will probably hold a majority in the Politburo," one party source said.

Politburo members meet monthly to vote on key policy decisions and appointments. Controlling this body provides a major advantage in advancing policy, even if the Politburo Standing Committee still holds the final say.

The party added the "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" to its charter as a guiding principle for the party. That puts Xi's name where only two of his predecessors have theirs -- founding father Mao Zedong and reformer Deng Xiaoping. And only Mao has a "thought" named after him in party doctrine.

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