As leaders meet in Beijing for the 19th Party Congress, the Fairbank Center presents a visual guide to understanding China’s elite politics.
In the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the term “leaders of party and state” (党和国家领导人) refers to leaders who hold national or vice-national administrative rank in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese state. These leaders are usually reshuffled every five years, first with leaders of the Party during the CCP Party Congress, and then a few months later with the appointment (or technically “election”) of some of those leaders to key state institutions during the first full session of a new National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) of the Central Committee of the CCP (CCP-CC) — represented in the orange circle of the infographic — holds ultimate power in the PRC. It is elected from the full Politburo —both the orange and yellow circles — by the CCP-CC, which is elected by the CCP Party Congress, nominally the highest authority in the CCP.
The PSC is headed by Xi Jinping, who is the General Secretary of the CCP-CC and head of the Party. Since 1992, except during a period of leadership transition, the General Secretary of the CCP-CC has also served concurrently as the President of the PRC, and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), making him the head of the party, state, and military. Currently, Xi Jinping is recognized as the “core” of the current party leadership, a title that was first used by Deng Xiaoping to describe Jiang Zemin, but was never bestowed on Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao.
In addition to serving as the highest decision making body of the CCP and PRC as a collective, each member of the PSC also overseas specific areas of government through the institutions he heads or the Politburo members reporting to them.
This infographic was developed by Yuanzhuo Wang, Research Associate to Professor William Kirby at Harvard Business School, and James Evans, Publications Coordinator at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Click here to download the full-size infographic.