China’s Xi Jinping promotes closest allies, loyalists to standing committee

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Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday promoted his closest allies into the Communist Party’s top ruling body, further consolidating his grip on power as he secures a third term as party leader.

Xi stacked the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee -- the party’s apex of power -- with four allies, including two of his former secretaries, in a move that flaunts his power and rewards loyalty above all, analysts said.

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Current Shanghai Party boss Li Qiang -- who oversaw a harsh two-month COVID-19 lockdown in the metropolis earlier this year -- is likely to take over as premier from Li Keqiang, who will retire next year.

Close aide Ding Xuexiang, Guangdong Party chief Li Xi and Beijing Party boss Cai Qi were also in the new lineup, according to state media broadcasting from Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

“It is all Xi’s people, signalling he wants to rule even beyond a third term,” said Alfed Wu Muluan, a Chinese politics expert at the National University of Singapore.

The leadership reshuffle comes shortly after the party concluded its twice-a-decade Congress, a major political event in which a new Central Committee of around 200 senior Party officials is installed, then elects higher layers of the top leadership.

Current Premier Li Keqiang is destined for retirement after the annual legislative sessions next March, as his name was not on the list of new Central Committee members.

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