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Consensus forming that Wang Qishan will retire? – China’s latest political and current affairs news


The South China Morning Post says “two well-placed sources” believe that the man considered second most powerful in China, Wang Qishan 王岐山, will retire after the 19th Party Congress (Why is this significant? See explainer). Wang is currently one of only seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC), and he heads up the anti-corruption taskforce, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

He is expected to be replaced at both the PBSC and CCDI by Zhao Leji 赵乐际, currently head of the Party’s Organization Department. One source explained:

“Given Zhao’s age [of 60], he could end up serving two terms on the Politburo Standing Committee…His role in the party will rise. This will help to establish continuity and to deepen the anti-corruption work. His experience as the party’s organisation chief will be valuable for the new job.”

The two anonymous sources also told the SCMP that “President Xi Jinping’s trusted ally Li Zhanshu [栗战书] stands a good chance of becoming chairman of China’s parliament,” a post currently occupied by Zhang Dejiang 张德江.  

Meanwhile, the western China-watching world remains split on Wang’s fate:

  • The Paulson Institute’s Macro Polo panel assigned only a 10 percent chance to the ‘norm-wrecking’ scenario that keeps Wang in his position, saying that ‘even with a very strong Xi Jinping, [this] would face significant criticism and pushback at every level of the CCP.’”
  • The Brookings Institute published a guide to 12 “top contenders” for the Politburo Standing Committee that did not even include Wang’s name, indicating a prediction of 0 percent probability that he would stay on.
  • Reuters recently polled 16 “people with ties to the leadership,” finding that 12 of them, or 75 percent, believe he will retain a leadership role.
  • Global network Young China Watchers polled members at 10 chapters around the world, and found that 72 percent believe Wang will maintain a position on the Politburo Standing Committee.
  • An article (in Chinese) on the U.S.-based Chinese news and gossip site Boxun quotes a number of scholars in Taiwan, most of whom seem to doubt that Wang will remain on the PBSC.

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Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.