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China Reform Monitor - No. 1256

CRM Special Issue: Xi's Newest Political Shakeup

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
November 22, 2016

[Editor's Note: As the world focused on the U.S. presidential election, a power transition took place in China in the form of a ministerial reshuffle by the National People's Congress's Standing Committee. Xi Jinping placed his loyal associates in top government positions and sidelined once-powerful leaders by retiring them or relegating them to advisory or consultative positions. Over one dozen members of the Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC) who, under the jurisdiction of Wang Qishan have helped purge more than 100 senior officials since 2011, were "parachuted" into positions in Beijing and provincial capitals – a new generation of officials who have demonstrated loyalty to President Xi Jinping. 

"This reflects a change in the political power structure inside the party. Since the 18th party congress and the launch of the anti-corruption campaign, the CDIC has appeared to become increasingly powerful, which is mirrored by the growing number of newly appointed officials from the party's disciplinary sector," explained Chen Daoyin of the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.] 

November 1:

The deputy chief of the Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC), Huang Shuxian, has been appointed Civil Affairs Minister replacing Li Liguo, who is under investigation for corruption. CDIC standing committee member Yao Zengke, who was in charge of anti-graft operations in Tianjin, has been appointed deputy secretary of Jiangxi Provincial CPC Committee. Meanwhile, CDIC No. 10 Discipline Inspection and Supervision Office Director Chen Fukuan has been appointed secretary of Shandong Provincial Discipline Inspection Commission – a vice-ministerial level position. Several other CDIC officials have been appointed to senior jobs at provincial party committees and ministries, and the trend that is likely to continue, 
the official Nanfang Dushi Bao reports.

The Communist Party may break an informal age limit on Politburo Standing Committee members that will allow five of the seven incumbents to remain in office, said Deng Maosheng, a senior researcher at the policy research office of the CPC Central Committee. The unofficial rule that party leaders must be 67 years old or younger when they take up their positions was first imposed by former leader Jiang Zemin in 2002. Only President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang would remain in office if the precedent stands. Deng called the rule "nothing more than hearsay among the public - it is not credible," suggesting Xi may ignore the tradition in order to keep his close ally CDIC chief Wang Qishan in office. "But if the age limit is ignored, others may also be able to stay, then the party may face another round of infighting,"
 The Hong Kong Economic Journal explained

November 2:

China's minister of public security, Geng Huichang, 65, will become deputy director of the CPPCCC Committee's Panel on Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Overseas Chinese Affairs. Geng's new advisory role was announced alongside new appointments for senior officials at the CPPCC. Cai Fuchao, former head of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, was named deputy director of the CPPCC Committee for Education, Science, Culture and Health. Liu Peng, former director of State General Administration of Sports, was named deputy director of the CPPCC Foreign Affairs Committee, 
the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports.

November 7:

Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei, 66, who has been struggling to tackle the country's huge local debt problem, will be replaced by Xiao Jie, 59, who worked for two decades in the finance ministry and headed China's tax administration for six years. Xiao has suggested that there is room to raise taxes to help bail out debt-ridden local governments, SCMP reports. Last year local debt stood at 16 trillion yuan ($2.3 trillion) and another 1.18 trillion yuan ($170 billion) was added this year. Although no timetable has been set, the objective is a property tax that combines various related taxes and fees into one. Local government debt has surged to an unprecedented 300 percent of GDP. Under Lou's tenure, China swapped about 7.2 trillion yuan ($1.05 trillion) worth of local debts into bonds. 

CCDI's deputy chief Chen Wenqing, 56, is China's new minister of state security. The Ministry of State Security was hit hard by a CCDI crackdown after the fall of its former longtime head Zhou Yongkang. Last year, deputy minister Ma Jian came under investigation and Liang Ke, the ministry's former Beijing bureau chief, was sacked two years ago, 
SCMP reports

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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