Xi set to Seize Control of the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee
Five of the seven old men comprising the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), China's highest ruling body, will retire at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to be held in Beijing in the autumn of 2017.
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All five will have exceeded the mandatory retirement age of 68. The remaining two men in the PSC, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, will remain members of the body. Xi is 63 and Li, 61.
Li's remaining at the PSC is uncertain, however. The current members of the PSC were appointed during the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Nov. 8, 2012.
The five members of the 18th Politburo Standing Committee who will step down are Zhang Dejiang (born 1946), Yu Zhengsheng (1945), Liu Yunshan (1947), Wang Qishan (1948) and Zhang Gaoli (1946).
The full title of the PSC is the Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China. The PSC consists of anywhere from five to nine men.
Successors to the vacant PSC posts will be selected at the 19th national congress. Xi is expected to pack the PSC with hit appointees to expand his drive for complete control of the CPC, and with it the Chinese state.
In particular, Xi will need to replace Wang Qishan, his closest ally and the second most powerful man in China, with another man who will be as equally loyal to him. The retirement of Zhang Gaoli, Li's top lieutenant in the PSC, is a golden opportunity for Xi to cement his control of the PSC.
After the 19th National Party Congress confirms the PSC's new members, these men will be assigned jobs in the party's top leadership at the 13th National People's Congress in March 2018.
Among the leading candidates for the vacant PSC positions are Vice Premier Wang Yang (who might also replace Li); Liu He, director of China's Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs; Li Zhanshu, Xi's Chief-of-Staff and the Director of the General Office who will likely play the role Wang did; Wang Huning, a policy adviser to Xi; Hu Chunhua, Party Secretary of Guangdong and Sun Zhengcai, the current Party Secretary of Chongqing.
Most of these men are allies of Xi.