Xinhua publishes article on CCP leadership selection process

Newspaper reports on the new Politburo Standing Committee led by Chinese President Xi Jinping, following the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, are seen in this illustration picture taken on Monday.

BEIJING — Following the inauguration of President Xi Jinping’s third term as leader of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency has published an article that purports to explain the decision-making process behind the selection of the new top CCP leadership.

Published on Monday, the article justified Xi’s long-term administration, stating, “It is the expectation of our times to maintain the long-term stability of the core of the Party Central Committee and of the Party as a whole.”

The article also alluded to the exclusion of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and others not believed to be close to Xi from the new leadership lineup, stating, “Some party and state leaders … offered to retire to make room for their younger colleagues.”

According to the article, Xi has sought opinions on personnel appointments since the beginning of this year from members of the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s top ruling body. Between April and July, the central leadership reportedly sought the opinions of about 280 people in the CCP and the military, among others.

One of the requirements for a leadership appointment was apparently adherence to a slogan that positions Xi at the core of the party.

When Xi’s second term was inaugurated in October 2017, Xinhua published an article stating the Chinese president met with “elder comrades,” referring to retired leaders, to discuss personnel matters and sought their opinions.

However, there was no mention of elder comrades in the latest Xinhua article. A CCP source said, “The aim might have been to give the impression that the influence of figures such as former President Jiang Zemin, who was absent from the party congress, is on the decline.”

The customary retirement age of the CCP’s top officials is 68, but there were early exits for Politburo members Li and Wang Yang, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, both 67. Meanwhile, Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, 59, who is said to be close to Li, is no longer a member of the Politburo.

According to the Xinhua article, “The leadership of the party and the country is not an ‘iron chair.’ Those who meet a certain age may not necessarily continue to be nominated.” The statement has been interpreted as a justification for the exclusion or demotion of high-ranking officials who are outside of Xi’s inner circle.