Anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan steps down from top Chinese leadership as Xi Jinping’s name is enshrined in Communist Party charter

Move puts leader on par with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 October, 2017, 8:03am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 3:57pm

China’s top graft-buster Wang Qishan is not on the list of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and is therefore confirmed to be retiring from the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of the Chinese leadership.

The announcement by state media confirms a South China Morning Post report that said Wang, 69, would step down and give up his role as head of the anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). The unit has been behind a years-long dragnet that has caught and sent thousands of corrupt officials to prison.

Meanwhile, Zhao Leji has been named as a CCDI member, a move which an earlier Post exclusive report said could lead to his heading the unit. Zhao is the Party Organisation Department Chief.

And Li Zhanshu, chief of staff to President Xi Jinping, has not been named as a member of the CCDI, contrary to other foreign media speculation.

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Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao, who is 66 and has not reached retirement age, is also absent from the Central Committee list. This means he will be stepping down from the Politburo.

The release of the list came after the twice-in-a-decade national congress adopted the political ideology of President Xi Jinping into the charter of the Communist Party as it concluded its meeting on Tuesday.

The congress said “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” – which Xi revealed in his political report when the congress began last week – would be a guide to action for the party.

The move puts Xi on par with late leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

A total of 2,336 delegates filed into the congress’ closing session in Beijing, which began at 9am. They were to approve the new Central Committee and their alternate members. On Wednesday, the party’s new leaders in the all powerful Politburo Standing Committee will meet the press. The line-up of the new 25-member Politburo and the top leaders serving on its top body, the Standing Committee, will finally be endorsed on Wednesday morning by the party’s newly appointed Central Committee, state media reported.

Seventeen candidates for places on the powerful Central Committee will leave the national congress disappointed on Tuesday, after they were eliminated during a vote, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Almost 2,300 delegates to the congress cast their ballots in a preliminary vote to appoint 204 members from a list of 221 names. The system works by delegates voting off the candidates they like least until there is parity between the numbers of seats and candidates.

The election process will conclude on Tuesday morning when a largely ceremonial second vote will be held to decide the final ranking of the 204 candidates – all of whom will have been approved by the congress presidium – although by that stage each is guaranteed a seat on the committee.

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“Altogether 17 candidates had to be voted out ,” a person who had access to the initial candidate list told the South China Morning Post on Monday.

A second source confirmed the numbers.

Before this year’s congress, the number of “extra” candidates for Central Committee seats had been growing. In 2002, just 10 people missed out after 208 candidates competed for 198 seats. Five years later, there were 17 losers (221 candidates, 204 positions), and in 2012, 19 people were disappointed (224 candidates, 205 seats).

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The idea of staging a preliminary vote was introduced at the 15th congress in 1997, a veteran party source told the Post earlier.

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Before then, there was still the chance that the poll could throw up a major surprise, as the rank-and-file delegates effectively had the final say on the matter.

Also on Tuesday, the congress delegates will vote to elect 200 alternate members of the Central Committee, as well as the members of the Central Commission of Discipline Inspection.

Additional reporting by Jun Mai