China’s seven-day National Congress of the Communist Party of China wound up on October 22. As expected, Xi Jinping was overwhelmingly endorsed for a third term as party head and country leader. All of the other six members appointed to the Politburo Standing Committee (the party’s highest body) are seen as Xi loyalists. They are Li Qiang (63), Zhao Leji (65), Wang Huning (67), Cai Qi (66), Ding Xuexiang (60) and Li Xi (66). Li Qiang, former Shanghai party secretary, is expected to become China’s new premier when Li Keqiang steps down next March. None of the men picked for the Permanent Committee is seen as Xi’s successor. Some of the other 25 appointed members of the politburo are also known to have some connection to Xi, and typically have demonstrated loyalty in their previous party posts. The concentration of power in the hands of a single individual and the purge of other factions from highest bodies has increased the possibility of capricious actions and inappropriate policy responses by the government.
In addition to giving the premiership to the man who oversaw the Shanghai lockdowns earlier this, a number of central economic policy posts have been affected by the shakeup, even if they had yet to reach the mandatory retirement age of 68 for such posts. Current central bank governor Yi Gang failed to make the central committee list, as did the top banking and insurance regulator and central bank party secretary Guo Shuqing and finance minister Liu Kun. All three men were seen as too market-oriented and reform-minded.