The Battle for China's Top Nine Leadership Posts

Cheng Li
Content Type
Journal Article
The Washington Quarterly
Issue Number
Publication Date
Winter 2012
Center for Strategic and International Studies
There is no better vantage point for understanding Chinese leadership politics than to analyze the nine individuals who make up the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC). Despite the highly diverse and divergent assessments of elite politics which populate the overseas China - watching communities, the last decade has witnessed a surprisingly strong consensus emerge on the pivotal importance of the PSC. The top Chinese leader, General Secretary of the Party and President Hu Jintao, is now understood to be no more than the ''first among equals'' in this supreme decisionmaking body. Within the People's Republic of China (PRC), a new Chinese term, jiuchangwei , was recently created to refer exclusively to these nine political heavyweights. In line with this development, the Chinese authorities have placed increas - ing emphasis on ''collective leadership,'' which the 2007 Party Congress Communique ́ defines as ''a system with division of responsibilities among individual leaders in an effort to prevent arbitrary decision - making by a single top leader.'
Political Geography