19th Party Congress: Five top leaders retiring from apex of Chinese leadership

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other delegates at the opening ceremony of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on Oct 18, 2017. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING - Five of China's top leaders are retiring from the Communist Party's powerful Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), according to the list of the party's new Central Committee unveiled on Tuesday (Oct 24).

Five PSC members, Mr Zhang Dejiang, 70, Mr Yu Zhengsheng, 72, Mr Liu Yunshan, 70, Mr Wang Qishan, 69, and Mr Zhang Gaoli, 70, are not on the list of members for the new 19th Central Committee, which means they are stepping down from the PSC, the apex of Chinese leadership.

Of the seven-member PSC, only President Xi Jinping, 64, and Premier Li Keqiang, 62, are on the 19th Central Committee, from which the new Politburo and its Standing Committee will be drawn.

Mr Xi did not follow through on persistent speculation that he would bend informal succession rules to keep close ally Wang Qishan on for another term.

The so-called "seven up, eight down" retirement rule holds that leaders aged 68 or older are not eligible for reappointment to the PSC. Mr Wang Qishan turned 69 in July.

The 19th Central Committee has 204 members with full voting rights and 172 alternate members. The new Central Committee was elected by some 2,300 party delegates at the close of the 19th Party Congress on Tuesday (Oct 24). The 18th Central Committee was formally disbanded on Oct 14, ahead of the opening of the 19th Party Congress last Wednesday.

Xinhua news agency reported that the new members of the PSC, the apex of Chinese leadership, are scheduled to meet Chinese and foreign journalists at the Great Hall of the People at about 11.45 am on Wednesday.

Some of the rising political stars tipped to enter the PSC include Mr Wang Huning, 61, Mr Wang Yang, 62, Mr Zhao Leji, 60, Mr Hu Chunhua, 54, Mr Li Zhanshu, 67, Mr Han Zheng, 63 and Mr Chen Min'er, 57. All of them were elected on Tuesday to the 19th Central Committee.

The 19th Central Committee will in turn elect the Politburo, the Politburo Standing Committee and the party's General Secretary at its first plenary session on Wednesday. President Xi is virtually guaranteed of a second five-year term as the party chief.

Most Politburo members hold important leadership position at the provinces and autonomous regions, or senior roles in the central government.

The party delegates on Tuesday also elected 133 members of the party's top anti-graft body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). Mr Wang is not on the list of members for CCDI.

Another ally of Mr Xi, Mr Zhao Leji, the most senior member on the list of CCDI members released on Tuesday, is believed to be taking over the anti-corruption portfolio.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.