Largest Communist nation has a shift in power
On November 8th, China, the world’s largest Communist nation, held it’s 18th congress to elect a new President and other key leaders. While the American people were caught up in our own political process, many didn’t take note of the shift in leadership in China. Some argue that this change of power makes no difference, others say it is crucial to the financial stability of the US. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to understand the key inner workings of the Chinese political process, even if its just to add your two cents to the water cooler conversation.
How elections work in China
The Communist Party of China (CPC) is the 82 million member party that rules China. The National Congress of the CPC (the Party Congress) meets every five years to unveil major leadership changes. Of all the millions of members of the Communist Party, only about 370, the members of the Central Committee, are responsible for electing all key leadership.
Top players in the process
Like most political systems, the 80/20 rule applies; 80% of the work/product/result is done by 20% of the people. The top players are very few in number. Key people to keep in mind are:
- Former President Hu Jintao – he may surface as head of the military
- Newly elected President Xi Jinping
- Newly elected Premier Li Keqiang
- He Guoqiang – head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee
- Zhou Yongkang
Why it matters, what to pay attention to
Since China still holds the bulk of the US debt, it’s crucial to be aware of changes not only in their economy but in their government. Some worry that the new General Secretary may call our debt or devalue our currency. As China continues to dominate the global stage, understanding how and who China works with is of utmost importance, especially during leadership changes. In my opinion, the key relationships to pay attention to are China & Africa, China & the US, and China & Mexico.
- Most of the important decisions about leadership change occur prior to the National Congress.
- While often referred to as “President,” the leader’s actual title is “General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.”
- Former General Secretary Jiang Zemin was invited to this year’s National Congress.
- Senior leaders 68 years of age or older are considered too old to serve as new leadership.
- Party chiefs are limited to two five-year terms.
- Check out this English version of the Chinese Xinhua news for information on all things National Congress.