The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will convene this autumn as the culmination of a secretive transfer of power at the very top of the Communist Party (CCP). This dossier will help introduce the people who are poised to ascend to this highest level where all critical decision making in China takes place.


The nine-member Central Politburo Standing Committee is the highest level of decision-making in Chinese politics. Though the workings of the committee are shrouded in secrecy, it is commonly accepted that it sets the agenda for both domestic and foreign policy and reaches decisions by way of consensus voting. The exact selection process for membership is also an unknown, though it is thought to be long and exhaustive and likely involves some form of a vote among the most senior members of the CCP.

The process isn’t a complete mystery however as there are a few facts that are available in the public record. First of all, seven spots will be up for grabs at the end of 2012 due to current members reaching the age limit of 67. There will also be a simultaneous rollover of seven of the twelve members of the Central Military Commission, a committee composed primarily of senior generals that is responsible for the command and control of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).