Xi Jinping has broken with a quarter-century of Chinese Communist tradition to give himself the option of heading the world’s largest political party, with more than 88m members, until 2027 and possibly beyond. For the first time in 25 years the party’s most powerful body, the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, does not have a clear potential successor to become party general secretary and state president, according to the Financial Times. When Xi became party head in 2012, previous precedent suggested he would relinquish the post in 2022 after serving two five-year terms. The committee’s five new members include Li Zhanshu, formerly Xi’s de facto chief of staff and a friend of the president for four decades. Like Xi, Wang Yang, Zhao Leji, and Han Zheng rose through various provincial postings but are all only a few years younger than the 64-year-old president, ruling them out of the succession stakes. The final new member, Wang Huning, 62, is a former academic turned ideologue.
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