Who Leads China Now? Inside the CCP’s Standing Committee

October 24, 2022 Topic: China Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: ChinaChinese Communist PartyCCP20th Party CongressPolitburoXi Jinping

Who Leads China Now? Inside the CCP’s Standing Committee

The Standing Committee’s newest members each have close professional ties to Xi Jinping and have, in different areas, helped execute his vision for China’s development.


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced the new composition of the Politburo Standing Committee—a seven-member group that wields near-total authority within China’s heavily centralized political system—at the country’s 20th Party Congress over the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, roughly 2,300 delegates voted to appoint Xi Jinping and six of his key allies to posts on the Standing Committee, helping the president consolidate personal power to a greater degree than any of his predecessors except for Mao Zedong, China’s modern founder.

The seven-member committee will consist of the following officials.


Xi Jinping: China’s leader since 2012, Xi was re-elected to a third term as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party on Sunday, paving the way for him to become the longest-serving Chinese leader since Mao. During his time in power, Xi has overseen a sweeping anti-corruption campaign, strengthened Beijing’s control over Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and pursued an aggressive line with regard to Taiwan and China’s foreign relations with the West.

Li Qiang: The former governor of China’s eastern Zhejiang province, Li has served as the party secretary of Shanghai, China’s largest city, since 2017. During his time in Shanghai, Li oversaw the city’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and received criticism for his highly restrictive policies, including a two-month lockdown in early 2022 that left many residents without reliable access to food. Li also served as Xi’s chief of staff during the current president’s time as party leader of Zhejiang from 2004 until 2007. He is expected to become the country’s premier in March, succeeding former Xi rival Li Keqiang.

Zhao Leji: A longtime ally of Xi and a member of the Politburo, Zhao has led the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Chinese anti-corruption agency, since 2017. During his time in office, Zhao oversaw Xi’s sweeping crackdown against high-level officials accused of corruption, including several of the president’s political opponents. In his current role, Zhao is expected to take over leadership of the National People’s Congress, China’s largely ceremonial 3000-member parliament.

Wang Huning: A former university professor and political theorist, Wang has served on the Standing Committee since 2017 and is widely perceived as one of Xi’s closest advisers. Before serving Xi, Wang also advised former Chinese leaders Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, and helped develop the ideology of the “Chinese Dream,” which Xi has cited as the model for the country’s development. He has also pushed for a more assertive foreign policy, particularly in China’s interactions with the United States.

Cai Qi: Prior to entering the Standing Committee, Cai led the Communist Party’s branch in Beijing, managing the city’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak and helping to stage the 2022 Winter Olympics. Cai previously worked under Xi in positions in Zhejiang and Fujian. He is slated to lead the party’s General Secretariat, overseeing numerous day-to-day administrative roles.

Ding Xuexiang: Xi’s former personal secretary, Ding has led the party’s General Office since 2017, giving him control over party bylaws and access to information. Unlike several of the Standing Committee’s other new members, Ding has never served as a provincial governor or party boss, two typical precursors to a seat on the Standing Committee; outside observers have suggested that his appointment came primarily due to his personal proximity to Xi.

Li Xi: A longtime friend of the president, Li previously served as the party leader of Guangdong, China’s richest province. He is slated to take over the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Zhao’s former position.

Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.

Image: Reuters.