New Team Solidifies Xi's Grip

Loyalty appears to be a main requirement for deputies, which analysts say brings risks
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2022 2:45 PM CDT
New Appointments in China Reflect Xi's Dominance
Chinese President Xi Jinping at the closing ceremony of the Communist Party's Congress on Saturday in Beijing.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Xi Jinping was reelected to a third term as leader of the Chinese Communist Party, but it was the appointments he announced Sunday that made clear the scope of his victory. The general secretary walked onstage in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the BBC reports, followed by the six men he chose to be on the Politburo Standing Committee—essentially, Xi's cabinet. Four of them are Xi loyalists new to the job. "He felt no need to assign a spot to an alternative faction, which shows his priority is projecting dominance over magnanimity, when he is facing international pushback," said Wen-ti Sung, who lectures at Australian National University.

Some of the newly promoted are short on experience, but an official account made clear the importance of loyalty to Xi, saying officials must be with the leader "in thinking, politics and action," per the New York Times. Analysts and citizens said Xi's selections reflect and tighten his grip on power. "All of them belong to the same faction. It's expected," a person on the streets of Beijing told the BBC. "He was dominant already and is even more dominant now," said Dali Yang, a University of Chicago professor who researches Chinese politics. "He owns it."

Some see risks to clearing the leadership of anyone willing to deliver bad news to Xi. “People won't dare tell him the actual downsides and costs of his policies and the problems they're creating," said Susan Shirk, a State Department official under President Bill Clinton. One example was the effort by local officials in early 2020 to keep the fact that COVID-19 was contagious, per the Times. "Everyone is going to be competing among themselves to show how loyal they are, and they’ll end up overdoing it," Shirk said. (More China stories.)

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