Leadership transition in China: Losers and winners


The Chinese leadership transition that happened at Party and then government level in the last months of 2012 and the early part of 2013 was called by many in the media a 'once in a decade' transition. But it was one that happened with limited information about the reasons for why some people were promoted, and some people simply moved sideways, and very little transparency about precisely how this whole process was driven and what the criterion were for success or failure.

Of course, the promotions onto the full Politburo and the Standing Committee of the Politburo received most attention. But there were many hundreds of other changes, and one of the people in the world who has followed this most carefully is Dr Bo Zhiyue. His short paper presents a concise and accessibly summary of what exactly the changes across Party and government in the last few months mean, what sort of political significance we give them, and what they say about the changing nature of Chinese elite politics. Many of the figures he talks about are likely to be in their positions for at least five years, and perhaps as much as a decade. Getting to know them better is worth the time and effort. And the analysis that Dr Bo presents offers a good start, coming to terms with the careers they have had before, their links to others in the Party and government, and the ways in which their experiences fit them for the new positions they have been given.

Professor Kerry Brown
Executive Director, China Studies Centre, and Professor of Chinese Politics
University of Sydney

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