by JAYADEVA RANADE  22 January 2017

Since his appointment simultaneously to China's three top posts of General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee (CC), Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and President of China at the 18 th Party Congress in November 2012, Xi Jinping has steadily acquired and consolidated greater authority. In addition to the post of Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) that he assumed on April 20, 2016, Xi Jinping heads a majority of the Central Leading Small Groups (CLSGs). He oversees the public security apparatus, the National Security Commission, Cyber Security, Military Reforms, Foreign Affairs and Economic Reforms. On January 22, 2017, he took over as Chairman of a  new central commission for integrated military and civilian development that will report only to the Politburo (PB) and the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC). The CCP's Sixth Plenum in October 2016 further enhanced his authority when it designated him the ‘core' of the leadership. Xi Jinping today holds more formal posts than any other leader in the CCP's history.

The 18 th Party Congress also approved the ‘China Dream' articulated by Xi Jinping and which clarified his vision for China. The deadline for achieving the ‘China Dream', which includes the redressal of ‘past humiliations' and ‘recovery' of so-called ‘lost territories', is the CCP's centenary in 2021. Soon thereafter in September 2013, Xi Jinping proposed his ambitious geo-economic strategic initiative called ‘One Belt, One Road' (OBOR). Stretching from Beijing to Europe it seeks to link production centres in China with natural and other resource centres around the world over a China-built communications artery. China hopes to complete the OBOR by the country's hundredth founding anniversary in 2049, and establish China as a major global power. Xi Jinping's acolytes say that China has embarked on a new 30-year era like those earlier of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping!

In this backdrop and with the 19 th Party Congress scheduled to be held in October/November 2017, speculation has increased as to whether Xi Jinping will at that time induct a successor to the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) or keep leadership succession ambiguous, thus retaining for himself the option of continuing in office beyond the norm of two 5-year tenures. There is also speculation whether the retirement dates informally accepted by the Party and observed since the 17 th Party Congress will stay in force or be disregarded.

In the normal course, 5 of the 7 members of the PBSC; 11 of the 25 members of the Politburo (PB) and approx 230 members of the 376-member CC are due to retire at the 19 th Party Congress due to be held in Beijing in October/November 2017.

Reports in circulation in Beijing for some months now suggest that PBSC Member Wang Qishan, a ‘princeling' and close friend of Xi Jinping who heads the Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC), which has felled large numbers of senior officials in the Party, Government, State-owned Enterprises (SoEs) and the PLA, may continue in the PBSC. Some reports speculate that Wang Qishan might be appointed Premier with Li Keqiang retained as PBSC Member but moved as Chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC).

Since November 2012 especially, Xi Jinping has effectively used the anti-corruption campaign to strengthen his position. He has simultaneously been assiduously handpicking cadres for key appointments to help him build a strong support base in the CCP and PLA. For example, in addition to the more than 86 PLA officers of the rank of Major General and above arrested on charges of corruption, an additional 50 were retired in mid-January 2017.

In the CCP, the handpicked cadres and officials mainly comprise those who have worked with Xi Jinping in the Zhejiang or Fujian provinces and, to an extent, Shanghai. Xi Jinping appears to have a clear preference for: cadres without affiliation to any of the factions led by surviving veteran leaders; second generation ‘Reds' or ‘princelings'; cadres with a military or security background; and cadres with service in the poorer or remote provinces. Political reliability and commitment to Party ideology are important criteria. Xi Jinping's appointees earmarked for key slots are often noticed occupying the number two, or deputy, position before moving into the senior position when the vacancy occurs. Many of Xi Jinping's appointees are in the important central leading groups and the powerful CCP CC's General Office, Organisation and Propaganda Departments. Some occupy key positions in the Ministries of Public and State Security.

Brief bio-sketches of 20 of the important cadres loyal to Xi Jinping are listed below.

Li Zhanshu ( 栗 战书 ), DOB: August 1950 ; Place of Birth: Pingshan County, Hebei Province

Li Zhanshu joined work in December 1972 and joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1975. He is a second generation ‘Red cadre' and a ‘princeling'. His uncle Jia Zhengtong, died during the War of Liberation in 1949 at the age of 26 less than a month after he got married. In an essay written in 2005 in memory of his uncle, Li Zhanshu described his father bringing the uncle's body back to their village on a cart and wrote “There is an endless yearning that dwells deep in my heart. No matter how time flies, my thoughts for him linger.”

Li Zhanshu's ties with Xi Jinping go back to the 1980s, when Xi Jinping governed Zhengding county in Hebei province and Li Zhanshu was in charge of neighbouring Wuji county. During the time he and Xi Jinping were both county­-level party chiefs in Hebei Province in the 1980s they often drank socially.

66-year old Li Zhanshu is today Xi Jinping's most powerful ally after anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan. He is almost certain to remain in the Politburo when many of its 25 members are replaced at the 19 th Party Congress next year as they will have reached the mandatory retirement age. Under the existing Party norms, Wang Qishan, who is now 67, is due to retire at the 19 th Party Congress.

Li Zhanshu is reported to be particular about work and once said in an interview that he abides by a “three ­nos” principle: No messing around with other people, no playing games, no loafing on the job. As Director of the General Office of the Central Committee, Li Zhanshu is tasked with assisting President Xi Jinping on a range of issues, including diplomacy, the economy and legal reforms. He is one of the most powerful Directors of the CCP CC's General Office in the past few decades. His predecessors did not have seats on the Politburo. He almost always accompanies Xi Jinping on domestic and overseas trips and, indicative of the deep trust he enjoys, travelled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin before Xi Jinping visited Russia in March 2015. Commencing 2016, Li Zhanshu has begun to make official domestic trips, something very rare for a person in his position. He is also the Director of the General Office of the National Security Commission, recently created and chaired by Xi Jinping.

Ding Xuexiang ( 丁薛祥 ), DOB: 1963; Place of Birth: Nantong City, Jiangsu Province

Ding Xuexiang graduated from the Northeast Heavy Machinery Institute (Yanshan University) and worked at the Shanghai Research Institute of Materials from 1982 to 1999. He joined government service in 1962 and joined the CCP in October 1984.

His first cadre position was as a Deputy Director on the Science and Technology Work Committee of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee. He was Head of the Shanghai Party Committee's General Office in 2007 when Xi Jinping arrived as Shanghai Party Secretary. Ding Xuexiang won Xi Jinping's confidence in the 6 months they worked together and was soon promoted to the post of Secretary General of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee. He was Secretary of Shanghai's Political Science and Law Committee for a year before Xi Jinping asked him to work directly for him in Beijing as Deputy Director of the CCP CC General Office.

According to an article in the Beijing Youth Daily in 2013, when Xi Jinping introduced the members of his Shanghai Municipality to the press in May 2007, he described Ding Xuexiang as “Here is another young man, and he was born after 1960.”

When Ding Xuexiang was head of the Shanghai Party's General Office, he wrote an article for ‘Secretary Work' magazine that laid out his philosophy for serving as an aide to leaders. He wrote: “The prosperity of a country depends on political affairs, and the achievement of political affairs relies on the work of the assistant. The general office of the party committee, as the think tank of the party committee and brain of the leaders, should place as its first priority its service of consultation.” Secretaries must “plan with the heart of a commander despite having a post as a soldier. If you cannot do this, it will all be in vain, no matter how much additional effort you make and how much more work you do.”

Ding Xuexiang began getting noticed from 2015 after he was spotted in the background of several of Xi Jinping's photos and amidst reports that he is known for quickly turning his bosses' public remarks on trips into official notices without referring to notes. A source has been quoted as describing him as someone who “boasts some remarkable traits, ranging from perfect writing skills to a famously strong memory." The same source added that Xi Jinping picked him because he knew he could rely on Ding Xuexiang not to discuss the President's private thinking with outsiders.

There is expectation that Ding Xuexiang, who is reputed to have Xi Jinping's ear, will replace Li Zhanshu as Director of the CCP CC's powerful General Office once the latter is promoted at the upcoming 19 th Party Congress. He is an alternate member of the 18th CPC Central Committee.  

Zhong Shaojun ( 钟绍军 ) , DOB: 1960; Place of Birth: Quzhou City , Zhejiang Province.  

Zhong Shaojun is Xi Jinping's secretary on the Central Military Commission. He has been Xi Jinping's secretary ( mishu ) for over 12 years.

Zhong Shaojun is a civilian CCP cadre with a Master's degree from Zhejiang University and Doctorate Degree from Beijing's Tsinghua University. From 2007 to 2013, he was Director of the Political Group of the General Office of CCP Central Committee. He is Deputy Director of the General Office for the Central Military Commission and Director of Office for Xi Jinping Chairman of Central Military Commission since June 2013.

Zhong Shaojun's official biography designates him a Senior Colonel. A CCTV news clip from 2013 shows Zhong Shaojun visiting a satellite launch base in Gansu Province with Xi Jinping and wearing a green, short-sleeve People's Liberation Army (PLA) uniform with shoulder insignia designating him a Sr. Colonel.

Prior to this appointment, Zhong Shaojun, a native of Zhejiang Province, worked in the Province as a propaganda official when Xi Jinping was the Party Secretary of Zhejiang. He was then transferred to Shanghai, where he worked under Ding Xuexiang in the General Office. Revealing the trust he enjoys and his proximity to Xi Jinping, Zhong Shaojun was transferred at the same time that Xi Jinping moved to posts in different cities.

Zhu Guofeng, DOB: around 1970; Place of Birth: Beijing

Little is publicly known about Zhu Guofeng except that he graduated from the prestigious Peking University. He is a confidante of Xi Jinping and also one of his secretaries ( mishu ). In footage from state television he was seen at a meeting with Xi Jinping and other world leaders during the Boao Forum for Asia in southern China in April 2013.

Chen Xi ( 陈希 ), DOB: 1953; Place of Birth: Putian City, Fujian Province.

Chen Xi joined the CCP in 1978, and graduated with a Master's degree from the Department of Chemical Engineering of Tsinghua University. He was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, California, USA. After spending almost 30 years at Tsinghua after graduation, Chen Xi served as a Deputy Party Secretary at Liaoning province and from 2011 as Executive Vice Chairman of the China Association for Science and Technology. He has been a member of the 17 th CC and is now a member of the 18 th CC.

Chen Xi was Xi Jinping's classmate and roommate at Tsinghua University.  His posting to Beijing came less than a year after Xi Jinping became General Secretary of the CCP and in 2013 he was promoted as Executive Deputy Director of the CCP CC's powerful Organisation Department, which oversees cadres' appointments at Vice Ministerial level or above. Within months of his appointment, the Organisation Department i ssued a ‘landmark' document specifying selection procedures for promotion of cadres. It superseded the previous procedures introduced by Hu Jintao, whereby cadres were chosen based on internal voting.

Huang Kunming ( 黄坤明 ), DOB: November 1956; Place of Birth: Shangkang County, Fujian Province 

Huang Kunming joined work in December 1974 and the CCP in September 1976. He is a ‘princeling' and his father, Huang Debiao was member of the PLA and the CCP.

Huang Kunming worked in Fujian Province from 1977-1999 and thereafter was posted to Zhejiang province, where he worked till October 2013. His term generally overlapped that of Xi Jinping.

59-year old Huang Kunming, is the second-most powerful man in the CCP CC's Propaganda Department. He was made Executive Deputy Director of the CCP CC Propaganda Department in late 2013, and concurrently as Office Director of the Central Spiritual Civilization Steering Committee. T wo months after his appointment as Executive Deputy Director of the Propaganda Department, Xi Jinping delivered a hard-line speech about propaganda and ideology. Before moving to Beijing, Huang Kunming was Party Secretary of Zhejiang's capital Hangzhou for three years.

He was appointed provincial Propaganda chief in 2007, the last year of Xi Jinping's term as Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province. He mostly   remained out of the spotlight until his promotion in 2014. In an article published in   People's Daily  in 2015, Huang Kunming said the “international environment is getting more complicated, as hostile Western forces intensify [efforts] to divide and Westernise us”. Cadres must be “armed with the spirit [expressed] in Xi's speeches“.

Huang Kunming, who is an alternate member of the 18 th CC, is well positioned to be a candidate for the next Politburo in 2017.

Chen Yixin (  陈一新 ), DOB: 1959; Place of Birth: Taishun County, Zhejiang Province .

A ‘Cultural Revolution Rusticated Youth '   in Zhangcun Commune, Lishui Prefecture, Zhejiang Province, Chen Yixin graduated from the Physics Department of Lishui Teachers Special School in 1981 with an associate degree and entered the work force in 1976. He joined the CCP in 1982.

Having spent his entire career in Zhejiang Province, Chen Yixin was Secretary of the Wenzhou City Party Committee from 2013-2015 when he is considered to have played a central role in helping it recover from its worst debt crisis in decades. Xi Jinping brought him as Deputy Director of the CCP CC's Central Leading Small Group (LSG) for Comprehensively Deepening Reform in the General Office. The LSG was created by Xi Jinping and is chaired by him.

Li Shulei ( 李書磊 ), DOB: 1965

A former child prodigy, Li Shulei was admitted to Peking University in 1978 at the age of 14. He obtained a degree in Library Science and a Master's and Doctorate in Literature before joining the Central Party School at 24. After two decades at the think-tank, he became the school's youngest Vice President at the age of 44.

Li Shulei was Xi Jinping's deputy in the Central Party School when Xi Jinping headed it from 2007 to 2012 as the Executive Secretary of the CCP CC's Secretariat. According to the Hong Kong and Taiwan media, Li Shulei wrote many speeches for Xi Jinping. The Hong Kong-based  Yazhou Zhoukan  reported that Li Shulei wrote Xi Jinping's speech to an arts and literature forum two years ago, in which the President demanded that the sector should serve the people and socialism.

In 2014, Li Shulei was transferred to head Fujian's publicity department, in a move widely interpreted as indicating that he is being groomed for senior positions. Prior to his transfer, Li Shulei had served only a few years in government – as deputy party chief in Xian, Shaanxi Province from 2004 to 2006, and Deputy County Secretary in Qinglong, Hebei Province, from 1992 to 1993.

51-year old Li Shulei, was appointed Secretary of Beijing's Commission for Disciplinary Inspection in 2015. His appointment to head Beijing's anti-corruption watchdog body at such a sensitive time suggests Li Shulei is a trusted man.

Li Shulei, who is a member of the 18 th CCP CC, is well positioned for entry in to the Politburo at the 19 th Party Congress.

Shu Guozeng DOB: 1956; Place of Birth: Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province.

Shu Guozeng entered the work force in 1974 and is a member of the CCP. I n Zhejiang Shu Guozeng was informally known as Xi Jinping's “facile writer”. He served first as a mishu to Xi Jinping and was then promoted as Deputy Director of the office of the Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee in 2004 by Xi Jinping when he was provincial Party Secretary. From 2008-12 he was Director of the Zhejiang Province Party School History and Research Office and from 2012-14 was Director of the Zhejiang Province Development and Research Centre. In 2014, he was promoted and appointed Deputy Director of the General Office of the Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, which is chaired by Xi Jinping.

Shu Guozeng has no previous government experience outside Zhejiang. Shu Guozeng has shown a fondness for quoting Mao Zedong in articles he has published.

He now convenes quarterly meetings and provides an important forum for Xi Jinping to deliver decisions on economic issues. China's official media reports that unlike the annual Central Economic Work Conference – an event inherited from the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao era, where both the President and Premier delivered talks on economic affairs – Xi Jinping has been the only speaker at meetings of the leading group.

Liu He ( 刘鹤 ), DOB: 1952; Place of Birth: Beijing Municipality

Liu He is a ‘princeling'. Having joined as a worker and cadre in the Beijing Wireless Factory from 1974-78, Liu He received a Master's degree in Management from the Industrial Economics Department of Renmin University in 1982. In 1992-93, he was a student at Seton Hall University, Business School, New Jersey, USA. From 1994-95 he studied in the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass, USA where he earned a Master's in Public Administration and worked as a Researcher in the Mesan Project.

Xi Jinping and Liu He have been friends since they were in their teens and both graduated from Beijing 101 Middle School, which is the prestigious school attended by many children of senior Communist Party and military officials. Both also have a military background and Liu He once served with the PLA's 38th Army. They have served together in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.

Liu He heads the General Office of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economics and is Xi Jinping's chief economic advisor and writes Xi Jinping's economic speeches. Liu He accompanies Xi Jinping on his travels. Once, introducing Liu He to senior US government officials Xi Jinping said "This is Liu He, this person is very important to me."

He is a member of the 18 th CC and is likely to be admitted to the Politburo at the 19 th Party Congress.

Cai Qi ( 蔡奇 ), DOB : December 1955; Place of Birth: Youxi County, Fujian Province.

Cai Qi joined work in March 1973 and joined the CCP in August 1975. From 1973-75, Cai Qi was a ‘Cultural Revolution Rusticated Youth '  in Xiyang Commune , Fujian Province . Cai Qi worked in Fujian Province from 1973 to 1999, as Deputy Director of the Fujian provincial party committee's General Office and thereafter served fifteen years in Zhejiang Province from 1999 when he became Mayor of the city of Quzhou. He moved to Beijing in 2014 as Acting Mayor of Beijing Municipality – a position held usually by individuals trusted by the CCP CC General Secretary.

When he was Executive Vice Governor of Zhejiang in 2013, Cai Qi quite unusually replied to a complaint made by the mother of a civil servant. After she wrote on Cia's social media page that her son needed to drink a lot of alcohol at official dinners, Cai Qi as Head of Zhejiang's Organisation Department, replied: “Tell me which department your son works in and he won't have to drink again”.

Cai Qi is reputed to be an open-minded official who makes his views known to the public. He is one of the few CCP cadres who uses the social media and his account on the Tencent micro-blogging platform has more than 10 million followers. Cai Qi described himself as a “Bolshevik” online and, before his promotion and move to Beijing repeatedly quoted Xi Jinping's remarks on his Weibo account, referring to him as General Secretary Xi,  ‘ Xi Dada'   (father) or Boss Xi! He stopped updating his account after his promotion. His colleagues in Zhejiang describe Cai Qi as a close ally of the President.

Meng Xiangfeng ( 孟祥锋 ), DOB: 1964; Place of Birth: Pingxiang, Hebei Province.

Meng Xiangfeng graduated from Jilin University with a Master's Degree and later obtained a Doctorate in Law from the Central Party School. Meng Xiangfeng‘s background extends across diverse fields, including cultural heritage and discipline inspection. He spent a year in the Party Committee of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.

He has served mainly in Liaoning Province where he was Director of the Supervision and Inspection Department of Liaoning Province from 2011 to 2013. He came to Xi Jinping's attention between 2002-2007 when he was in Zhejiang. Meng Xiangfeng is reported to have developed close personal relations with Xi Jinping when he was working in Zhoushan.

From March 2013 until April 2015 he was Director, National Administration for Protection of State Secrets (NAPSS), responsible for archiving classified Communist Party and government documents. He was handpicked by Xi Jinping and appointed V ice Minister for Public Security in charge of a working group specializing in ‘Fox Hunt 2015'.

Following a three-year reshuffle of the top secretariat office, in September 2015, Meng Xiangfeng was appointed President Xi Jinping's deputy chief of staff.

Meng Qingfeng

59-year old Meng Qingfeng was Xi Jinping's deputy Police Chief when Xi Jinping was Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province. Meng Qingfeng was head of the Economic Crime Investigation Department under the Ministry of Public Security in December 2010. He was promoted to Assistant Minister of Public Security in November 2014 and Vice Minister of Public Security in 2015. Meng Qingfeng's new position got publicised within a month after his appointment when he publicly led a team at the China Securities Regulatory Commission to search for evidence of alleged market manipulation, and declared that the authorities would go after those responsible for the stock market slump.

Wang Xiaohong

Wang Xiaohong began his career in Fujian, where he remained until August 2013. Wang Xiaohong was Xi Jinping's subordinate during the latter's entire term in Fujian. In December 2014, Wang Xiaohong was Deputy Governor of Henan province in charge of the provincial public security department.  

Wang Xiaohong served in Fujian for 34 years and held positions such as Director of the Minhou County Public Security Bureau and Director of the Fuzhou Public Security Bureau. He later became police chief of Xiamen, before moving to Henan province.

Wang Xiaohong was promoted to the post of police chief of Beijing in March 2014. The Police Chief of Beijing is a job entrusted to a person of the Party Chief's confidence. He was appointed Vice Minister of Public Security in May 2016.

A source has been reported as disclosing: "I have heard Wang served as a ban lang (the best man or head groomsman) at Xi Jinping's private wedding with Peng Liyuan, attended by only close relatives. They are so close to each other."

Chen Wenqing ( 陈文清 ), DOB:1960; Place of Birth: Renshou County, Chengdu, Sichuan Province .

  Born in 1960, Chen Wenqing joined the CCP in 1983. He graduated from the Department of Law Southwest University of Political Science and Law and entered the work place in 1984.

He has served 12 years in the public security apparatus in Sichuan province and later was in Fujian province from 2006. He worked in the Central Discipline Inspection Commission . Chen Wenqing switched over to the Ministry of State Security (MoSS) in 1994, becoming Deputy Director at the Sichuan Provincial State Security Department (SSD). In 1998, Chen Wenqing took over leadership of the department and held the position until 2002, when he moved to head the Sichuan Provincial People's Procuratorate. In 2006, Chen Wenqing moved to Fujian, where he served until 2012 as both, Secretary of the provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection and as provincial Deputy Party Secretary. Following the 18th Party Congress at which Xi Jinping came to power, Chen Wenqing was brought to Beijing to become a Deputy Secretary of the Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC).

He was appointed Minister of State Security in November 2016. He is a member of the 18 th CCP CC.

Lin Duo, DOB: 1956; Place of Birth: Heze City, Shandong Province

Lin Duo was born in 1956 and entered the work force in 1974. He joined the CCP in 1975. Lin Duo earned his Master's Degree from the CCP CC's Central Party School in 1998.

He was Secretary of the CCP Xicheng District Committee of Beijing Municipality from 2006 to 2010. In July 2010, Lin Duo was appointed Vice Mayor and Acting Mayor of Harbin City, Deputy Secretary of the CCP City Committee, and Secretary of the Leading Party Group of Harbin City Government.

He is considered a protege of Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC) Chairman Wang Qishan and was appointed Governor of Gansu province in April 2016. Lin Duo has never worked in the western province, nor has he been a governor of any province. His ­appointment, which made him a provincial cadre, effectively postponed his retirement for five years until 2021.

Wang Dongfeng ( 王东峰 ), DOB: 1958; Place of Birth: Xian City, Shaanxi Province

Wang Dongfeng joined the CCP in 1980 and entered the work force in 1981. From 1999-2001 he was a student at Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province . From 2000-2001 he was a student at the Central Party School.

From 2001-2004 he was in Shaanxi Province and then till 2013, was Vice Director of State Administration for Industry & Commerce. He was appointed Deputy Secretary CCP Municipal Committee, Tianjin Municipality in 2013. He was appointed Mayor of Tianjin Municipality in November 2016. He is a strong candidate for the CC in 2017.

Yang Zhenwu ( 杨振武 ), DOB: May 1955; Place of Birth: Xinle County, Hebei Province.

Yang Zhenwu joined the CCP in 1975 after graduating from Nankai University, Tianjin and began work in 1978. He joined editing work in newspapers in September 1978.

After Xi Jinping's appointment as Party Secretary of Shanghai he appointed some “old friends” to the Shanghai Municipality Party Committee, including Yang Zhenwu as head of the Publicity Department. From 2009 to 2013, Yang Zhenwu was Director of the CCP Shanghai Municipality Party Committee Publicity Department. He was Deputy Director in People's Daily from 1989-2001; Editor-in-Chief of the People's Daily Overseas Edition from 2004-2006 and was appointed Editor-in-Chief of People's Daily in April 2013.

On May 16, 2016 , Yang Zhenwu as Editor-in-Chief of the People's Daily authored a lengthy essay warning that the CCP could make a “historic mistake” if it fails to control new media and harness it for propaganda. He wrote: “To lose speech is to lose power.”

Hu Heping, DOB: 1 962; Place of Birth: Linyi County, Shandong Province.  

Hu Heping studied in the Hydraulic Engineering Department of Tsinghua University in 1980 and joined the CCP in 1982.He obtained a Doctorate of Civil Engineering from the University of Tokyo. From 2008 to 2013 he was Secretary of the CCP Party Committee of Tsinghua University. From 2013-2015 he was in Zhejiang Province and in 2015 moved to his third new position in two and a half years as Deputy Secretary of the CCP Shaanxi Provincial Committee and was appointed Governor in 2016. He is China's second youngest provincial ­governor.

For more than 10 years, Hu Heping was a Tsinghua University colleague of Chen Xi, who is now the first ranking Deputy Director of the Chinese Communist Party's powerful Organisation Department, which oversees cadres' appointments at vice-ministerial level or above.

Hu Heping is an alternate Member of the 18 th CCP CC.

Fu Zhenghua ( 傅政华 ), DOB: 1955; Place of Birth: Luanxian County, Tangshan, Hebei Province.

Fu Zhenghua entered the work force in 1970 and joined the CCP in 1973. A rising star in the security apparatus, Fu Zhenghua was promoted to Vice Minister of Public Security in 2013, after a stint as Beijing's political chief. He is now ranked first among the seven Vice Ministers in the Ministry of Public Security.

Known for his high-profile style, Fu Zhenghua made a name for himself after only 74 days as Beijing's police chief in early 2010 when he closed ‘Heaven on Earth', a luxury nightclub suspected of providing sex. Within months of taking up his new job at the Ministry of Public Security, he started leading armed patrols by Beijing police forces. He had played a prominent role in persecution of the Falungong when Jiang Zemin was Party General Secretary.

In a surprise move the official website of the Central Politics and Law Commission announced on August 18, 2016, that Fu Zhenghua had been ‘removed' as  a member of the Central Politics and Law Commission. This has prompted speculation that he might have lost Xi Jinping's confidence. Fu Zhengua is not known to have worked directly under Xi Jinping, but is known to have played a leading role in bringing to justice former PBSC Member and Security Czar Zhou Yongkangon charges of corruption and abuse of power in 2013.

There are some other cadres assessed as close to Xi Jinping and who are not in central CCP organisations, but are among the aspirants for elevation at the upcoming 19 th Party Congress. A few included among the more important are: (i) 1955-born He Lifeng , who is alternate Member of the 18th CCP CC and presently Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission. He was Xiamen's financial chief when Xi Jinping was the city's Deputy Mayor in charge of finance from 1985 to 1988. (ii) Xia Baolong , who was born in 1952, was transferred to Zhejiang in November 2003 as Deputy Party Secretary. He served under Xi Jinping who was then Party Secretary  of Zhejiang. He was officially elected as Governor in January 2012 and on December 18, 2012, was promoted as Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province. The crack-down on Christians and pulling down crosses from churches and burning them last year was ordered by him. More recently, instructions were issued in December 2016 to regulate the activities of Tibetan Buddhist and other Buddhist monks and nuns in the province. He has been a member of the 15 th , 16 th and 17 th CCs and is a Member of the 18 th CC .; Li Qiang served a number of years in Zhejiang Province including in its Political and Legal Affairs Commission before taking over in June 2016 as Party Secretary of the important Jiangsu Province. He is an Alternate Member of the 18 th CC; (iv) 1960-born Chen Min'er , who is Guizhou Party Secretary, is a member of the 18 th CC and regarded as a member of China's Sixth Generation of leaders. (v) Ying Yong was born in 1957, and worked in Taizhou's public security and later Political and Legal Affairs Commission, before being appointed in November 2006 , as President of the Zhejiang Provincial High Court. ; (vi) Hainan Governor  Liu Cigui , who was born in 1955, served in China's State Oceanic Administration from 2011-2014 where he adopted an assertive stance on China's maritime claims including in the South China Sea ; (vii) born in 1968, Fang Xinghai graduated from Tsinghua University in 1986, and received a doctorate from Stanford University, USA in 1993. He started his career at the World Bank through the Young Professionals Program, subsequently returning home in 1998 to join the China Construction Bank. He is Vice-Chairman, China Securities Regulatory Commission ; (viii) Xu Lin , born in 1963, has served in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) from 1995-98. He was Director of the Shanghai Municipality Propaganda Department before being brought to Beijing in 2015 as Deputy Director of the Central LSG for Internet Security and Informationization. In June 2016, he took over as Director of the Central LSG for Internet Security and Informationization (known also as -- Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs).; (ix) Chen Jining was born in 1964 and graduated from Tsinghua University.; (x) born in 1955, Zhong Shan served in Zhejiang Province from 1987-2008 when he was appointed Vice Minister in the Ministry of Commerce.

Hu Heping, Chen Min'er  and Xu Lin were born in the 1960s and are considered rising stars in the Chinese leadership. One can also expect that Li Jinbin, Hu Heping Wang Dongfeng, Jing Junhai, Chen Jining, Liu Cigui, Ying Yong, Wang Xiaohong, Meng Qingfeng, and Xu Lin will likely become first-time members of the 19 th CC of the CCP in 2017.

A chart listing full members of the 18 th CCP CC and indicating those likely to retire is appended.


(The author is a former Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India and is President of the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy.)

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