President Xi Jinping pictured earlier this month at the UN’s headquarters in Geneva. Photo: Reuters

How Xi Jinping has taken on multiple roles ... and amassed unrivalled power in China

President now has 12 posts that give him control and oversight over most areas of government, the economy and the military

China’s President Xi Jinping gained another position and job title this week, his 12th, as he increases his power and influence.

Xi’s latest title is chairman of the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development, a body created to try and ensure that China’s military needs are met by the nation’s industrial base.

Xi will be able to decide how the country’s massive manufacturing and industrial sectors can be leveraged for army use and also how military research can be used for civilian purposes.

Analysts have suggested that as Xi has amassed titles and influence he has become China’s most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping.

Here is a list of the titles he has taken since assuming office in 2012.

1. General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China

Xi was granted this title in November 2012, making him the head of the governing Communist Party with nearly 90 million members. Xi is commonly addressed in China by this title.

Rather than acting as first among equals, Xi has made himself a strongman within the party, according to analysts.

He has maximised the power of the role. For example, party institutions within the legislature and Supreme Court are now required to report their work to the Politburo, with Xi as unchallenged leader.

2. Chairman of the Central Military Commission

Xi took this role at the same time he assumed the party chief position in late 2012. It was viewed at the time as evidence that Xi would be more powerful than his predecessor, Hu Jintao. Hu became military commission chairman position two years after he was appointed party chief.

3 and 4. Leader of the Central Leading Group for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the Central Leading Group for Taiwan Affairs

These positions offer Xi control over China’s diplomacy and its policy towards Taiwan.

5. President of the People’s Republic of China

This is Xi’s official title in a diplomatic capacity. China’s National People’s Congress elected Xi as the country’s president in March 2013.

China’s presidency is largely a ceremonial position that holds less real power than roles within the party and the military.
Xi Jinping (left) pictured earlier this month at an exhibition hall as part of preparations for the of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Photo: Xinhua

6. Leader of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms

After Xi created this group at the end of 2013, it became clear he would use it to cement his direct control over key issues.

Xi had held 31 meetings of the leading group by the end of last year, addressing a wide range of issues.

At the last meeting, for instance, the group discussed various topics including pharmaceutical production, directors at state companies, fiscal spending discipline and equity stakes in mining companies.

7. Chairman of the Central National Security Commission

The commission is Beijing’s answer to the National Security Council in Washington, covering intelligence, the military, diplomacy and public security as well as health, commerce and finance. Xi chaired the commission’s first meeting in April 2014. Public reports about the commission’s work have been muted ever since.

8. Leader of the Central Leading Group for Internet Security and Informatisation

This group was created in early 2014 and reflected Xi’s desire to control the internet. Xi’s hallmark idea for online governance is “internet sovereignty”. Public reports about Xi in this title are rare.

9. Leader of the Central Leading Group for National Defence and Military Reform of the Central Military Commission

Xi chaired the first group meeting in March 2014 and at the third in July 2015 he pushed a blueprint for massive military reforms.

10. Leader of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs

This leading group has been in place since at least 1992. Xi heads it and his right-hand man, Liu He, is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the group.

Under Xi’s leadership, the leading group has assumed a more prominent role in economic policymaking, eroding the traditional economic decisionmaking power at the State Council.

11. Commander-in-Chief of the Joint Battle Command of the People’s Liberation Army

When Xi walked into China’s joint battle command centre in a combat uniform with this title last April, he sent a strong message that his control of China’s army, air force, navy and missile forces was absolute.

12. Chairman of the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development

His latest appointment.