Possible Change in China's Standing Committee

Jul 5, 2012 | 10:30 GMT

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in front of (L-R) President Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin and Politburo members Li Keqiang and Zhou Yongkang

Feng Li/Getty Images


Several overseas blogs and online news sites have been circulating reports that the number of seats for the country's top governing body, the Politburo Standing Committee, will shrink from nine to seven during the upcoming 18th Communist Party of China Congress. The reports are based on widespread rumors. New York-based DW news, which reportedly has strong ties with Jiang Zemin and his supporters, issued an exclusive report June 12 declaring that the Standing Committee's membership would shrink to seven. North Carolina-based Boxun News, which has circulated similar rumors in the past, claimed June 20 that that the number of seats on the Standing Committee was still subject to change. Though it did not rule out the possibility of a reduction, Boxun noted that the number of seats would probably stay at nine.

The validity of rumors regarding changes to the Politburo Standing Committee is unclear, but any change would affect both the structure and balance of power in the future leadership and its patterns of decision-making. Given that each position in the committee has its own deeply entrenched interests and power networks, attempts to restructure it will likely meet fierce backlash from within. That likelihood is enhanced as Beijing strives to navigate an economic slowdown and the political fallout from the Bo Xilai scandal. 

A reduction of seats in the top governing body could unbalance the country's senior leadership....

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