As Hong Kong Ming Pao reported on March 1, after the all Chinese provincial “two sessions” ended, the secretary positions of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Chongqing local government remained unchanged. However, per the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) practice, the four senior officials at the provincial and ministerial levels will be given new personnel arrangements after five years of service.
According to the article, the current Beijing Party Secretary Cai Qi, Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang, and Tianjin Party Secretary Li Hongzhong are “expected to enter Beijing.” And they will become part of the central leadership after the 20th National Congress. Particularly, Ming Pao cited a person close to Beijing, saying Li Hongzhong has been praising Xi Jinping as the core of the CCP since the 18th National Congress.
The Hong Kong media disclosed that Li Qiang was Xi Jinping’s right-hand man when he was secretary of the Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee. If Li joins the central government, the position of Shanghai party secretary will be taken over by the current Chongqing party secretary Chen Min Er, Xi’s first secretary in Zhejiang. However, the party still had a controversial opinion about this personnel management.
The report further reveals that Ding Xuexiang, the director of the General Office of the Central Committee, is also expected to get a promotion. He is a member of the Politburo with the four officials mentioned above. As for Liu He, the Vice Premier of the State Council, might not retire after the 20th Congress, although he has reached the retirement age of 70. However, a person familiar with the matter told the media that due to the U.S.-China tension, Beijing authorities still rely on Liu He.
In addition, among the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, all, except for Xi Jinping, Li Zhanshu, and Han Zheng, will reach the age limit of 68 by the 20th National Congress. Therefore, they should retire to the second line according to the unwritten rule of “seven up and eight down” for members of the Political Bureau. This could be interpreted as “continue to work at 67, step down at 68.” Nine other Politburo members have also reached retirement age.
According to the report, when the 20th Congress takes place, the entire Political Bureau of the Central Committee will be vacated by 11 seats if Xi Jinping is re-elected. Therefore, after the 20th Congress, more officials who have ties with Xi Jinping will join the Politburo.