Question 2 of 4 in China Politics
Started Mar 18, 2021 01:00PM UTC   •   Closing Jan 01, 2023 04:59AM UTC

Will Li Keqiang be a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee on December 31, 2022?

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Context. The Chinese Communist Party is set to select a new Standing Committee of the 25-member Politburo of its ~370-member Central Committee at a meeting that will be held right after the 20th Party Congress, likely in October or November 2022. This Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) is the country’s top leadership group. It usually has seven members, although its membership has varied from five to nine in the post-Mao era. 

Li Keqiang has been the second-ranked PBSC member since the 18th Party Congress in November 2012 and has served as Premier of the State Council since March 2013. He is ranked behind paramount leader Xi Jinping, who serves as the Party’s General Secretary and is President of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Li and Xi were both rising stars. Xi was from an elite political family and gained the favor of former leader Jiang Zemin, while Li’s base was the now-weakened Communist Youth League that nurtured Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao. Xi proved more popular with Party elites but factional balancing within the Party saw Li win the number-two position.  

Li is constitutionally barred from serving another five-year term as Premier. But he will only be 67 years old in 2022, and so will fall within the customary upper age bound of 67 for appointment to a new PBSC term. Given that it’s uncommon for such a senior leader to retire early, it's possible that Li will remain on the PBSC but take a different role.

Xi is expected to secure a norm-defying third term as General Secretary in 2022. If Li retires, it will be another sign of Xi’s consolidation of personalized political power, which has come at the expense of other factional networks within the Party. If Li remains on the PBSC, it could be a sign that other power groupings exist that are influential enough to at least require some degree of placation by Xi, or that Xi still feels at least partially constrained by factional norms.

Resolution details. This question resolves based on the leadership positions listed on the website of People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. 

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This question was contributed by Neil Thomas and Jordan Schneider.

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Name Probability
Yes 49%

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