November 14, 2012, by China Policy Institute

The New Central Committee: Bad News for the Party

 By Zhengxu Wang.

The Party Congress has now released the member list of the new Central Committee, which includes 205 full members and  171 alternate members. Meanwhile, the list of 130 Central Disciplinary Committee (CDC) members has also been released.

The most important piece of news at this moment seems to be that the name of the current vice premier in charge of finance and international trade is found in the CDC list, that of Wang Qishan. This would seem to confirm the earlier rumour that he will head the CDC as a member of the new Politburo Standing Committee, whose line-up will not be unveiled until tomorrow.

That almost certainly means that in the new leadership team, Wang will give away his current economic management portfolio. That appears to be a big set-back for the reformist camp in China, which has long deemed Wang as the most suitable person to push some of the necessary structural reform in the new government.  

Whether the rest of the Politburo Standing Committee line-up will show that indeed the conservatives have championed their cause will be a question we have to wait until tomorrow to answer. Among the various versions of the rumour, the one considered the least desirable excludes Li Yuanchao and Wang Yang, and sees Wang Qishan given a non-economic role.

With the release of the CDC member list, we are brought one step closer to that worst outcome.

Zhou Xiaochuan and Chen Deming, two very capable economic and finance managers, did not make it to the new Central Committee. At 64 and 63, respectively, they have hit the retiring age for ministerial post holders.  Their exclusion from the Central Committee means that neither of them have succeeded in securing a promotion and gaining a seat in the new Politburo this time.

That again shows the system tends to reward political officials instead of people with professional credentials. The system clearly rewards the Provincial Party Secretaries and top officials in the Party’s Central Departments more.

Very likely, the several new vice premiers and important ministers will be chosen from the current Party Secretaries of various provinces or municipalities. The last two times, we saw Shanghai Party Secretary Huang Ju, Guangdong Party Secretary Zhang Dejiang, and Liaoning Party Secretary Li Keqiang become vice premiers. We also saw Jiangxi Party Secretary Meng Jianzhu becoming the Minister of Public Security, and before him we saw Sichuan Party Secretary Zhou Yongkang taking up that post.

This time, we were told that Tianjin Party Secretary Zhang Gaoli and Guangdong Party Secretary Wang Yang are likely to become vice premiers, and Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng will head the NPCC (National People’s Consultative Conference).

We were also told that the Xinjiang Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian, Sichuan Party Secretary Liu Qibao, and Guangxi Party Secretary Guo Shengkun will take up important ministerial and Party roles in the Centre.  

We are therefore left in a world in which the Party appears to have strengthened its control of power, and is keenly keeping up its guard against managers of state affairs.

This may not be good news for the sustainable rule of the Party.

Zhengxu Wang is Deputy Director of China Policy Institute.

Opinions expressed in the CPI blog do not represent the views of the China Policy Institute or the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham. They are the personal views of the bloggers/authors.

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