China’s New Leaders and the “Most Important Artwork in the World”

China’s New Leaders and the “Most Important Artwork in the World”


This is the most important artwork in the world, at least for the next few days. The painting shows a foggy mountain panorama crossed by sections of a wall. It is a scene that would be right at home in Game of Thrones. In fact, there is a Game-of-Thrones aspect going on here, but not in the painting. It’s in front of the artwork. Here is where recent Chinese Communist Party Congresses have revealed the Politburo Standing Committee. In 2012… In 2007… In 2002… In 1997… And perhaps again in the coming days. This is the group that makes key decisions in China. On October 18, China’s Communist Party begins its 19th National Congress, which takes place every five years. It is the most important event on the calendar for the world’s largest political party, one which claims more than 80 million members and has ruled China since 1949. More than 2,000 delegates will meet in Beijing to discuss the future of the country. Every moment will be carefully orchestrated. Security will be on high alert. So what are China-watchers looking for? First, to what extent has Xi promoted his supporters and sidelined potential rivals. At least 10 members of the Politburo – from which the 7-member Standing Committee draws its members – are slated to retire. Will the newest Politburo members be Xi loyalists, or will they be concessions to rival factions? Second, is there any indication that Xi plans to end the traditional 10-year term and stay on as leader past 2022? Xi has already been given the title of “core” leader, echoing previous titles given to Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. If Xi sees himself as equal to Deng and Mao, then it is difficult to imagine him willingly relinquishing power before or after the next party congress in 2022, either as president, as party leader, as head of the military, or as any of the other many titles he holds.

Dereck Turner

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