After a week of pomp and ceremony, China President Xi Jinping closed the 19th National Congress by unveiling the next Standing Committee of the Politburo, the highest decision-making body in the Chinese government. There are two overriding takeaways here: the Xi Jinping bloc is in complete control, with other competing power centers like the Communist Youth marginalized, and there is no obvious heir apparent among the members of the standing committee, a fact that will doubtlessly fuel speculation over whether or not Xi plans to eventually step down after his second term in office is completed.
Here’s a breakdown of who made it in:
Li Keqiang. Li Keqiang is Xi’s premier and he was widely expected to stay on for a second term in the standing committee. He ascended the ranks through the Communist Youth, Hu Jintao’s power base, and is widely regarded as a relatively weak figure who enjoys considerably less authority than Premier Wen Jiabao did in the previous administration. Li is an economist with a reputation as a reformer; he was the great hope of those Western analysts who originally believed that the Xi administration would embark on bold new political and economic reforms. Obviously, their hopes have not been realized thus far and there’s no reason to believe they will be over the course of Xi’s second term in office.
Li is 62 years old.