What we just saw was the making of an All Xi’s Men team, the breaking of decade-long rules, and the birth of an unlimited supreme leader

What we just saw was the making of an All Xi’s Men team, the breaking of decade-long rules, and the birth of an unlimited supreme leader. These are not entirely surprising, but Xi’s grab of power is still beyond our expectation. He is now a truly modern emperor. 1/

Xi will rule China for not one but at least two and likely three terms (15 years). He is "only" 69 year old: Mao ruled China until his death at 83 and Deng kept CMC Chair until 1989 when he was 85. So don't expect Xi to retire before 2037. Xi's power apex just started, today. 2/

No successor. Xi is too "young" to pick up a successor. His ministers have no interest in suggesting one. Potential candidates dare not imply it. Xi's future successor is now a nobody (who is not even in the Central Committee this time). Succession may not be an issue in 2027. 3/

The rule of age limit is gone, completely. All 67, Li Keqiang, Wang Yang, and Chen Quanguo retired, while Wang Huning stayed in PSC. Moreover, Wang Yi (69) and Zhang Youxia (72) will be in Politburo. Xi simply showcased his unlimited power by breaking the age limit rule. 4/

Premiership as we know is gone. WSJ was right to report Li Qiang as premier & I was wrong to suggest Wang Yang. This is unprecedented because of Li's lack of vice premiership or any central experience. Once Xi's chief of staff, Li will be his Chief Grand Secretary as premier. 5/

Old factions are all gone while new factions are in the making. Factional identities are flexible & dynamic. As I said earlier, the Youth League faction ceased to function 7-8 years ago. After the full victory of Xi's men, however, they will soon divide and contend for power. 6/

Zhang Youxia's stay in Politburo is astonishing but has significant values for Xi. 1) Zhang is 72, even older than Li Zhanshu. 2) Zhang's stay makes Xi not the oldest Politburo member. 3) Zhang's and Xi's fathers were close comrades. 4) Zhang will be Xi's prince in PLA. 7/

Li Qiang's premiership is not only unprecedented but also showcases to everyone that loyalty rather than popularity is the key for your promotion. The disaster of Shanghai Lockdown did not stop Li's elevation precisely because he followed Xi's order despite all criticism. 8/9

Li Qiang's premierships also shows how Xi trained his close aide to this position. In the last decade, Li Qiang was governor of Zhejiang (2012) and party secretaries of Jiangsu (2016) and Shanghai (2017). In PRC history, Li is the only person who has ruled these three places. 9/

Li Qiang's rich experience in running three rich provinces may be a good thing. However, his lack of vice premiership or any central working experience means that he has to rely upon Xi's authority to run the state council. Li will be a perfect technocrat for the emperor. 10/

If Li Qiang and Ding Xuexiang indeed become premier and executive vice premier as WJS reported, they will both be Xi's technocrats, secretaries, & servants. These two top leaders of the State Council were Xi's chiefs of staff in Zhejiang and Shanghai & the Central Office. 11/

If Xi's two secretaries lead the State Council, this not only means the change of the Premiership but also the change of the nature of State Council. It will no longer be parallel with the Party, but simply one many institutions under the leadership of the Party, and of Xi. 12/

We will likely see a stronger Central Secretariat (中央书记处) as Xi's coordinating institution to guide all other agencies, including State Council. In 1956-1966, Deng Xiaoping was Chairman Mao's General Secretary and coordinated other leaders including Premier Zhou Enlai. 13/

The Central Secretariat will be more like the Grand Council (军机处), established by Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Empire. It was an inner decision-making organ and directly served the emperors. All other outer ministries or agencies simply implemented its orders. 14/

The WJS report didn't say who would lead the Central Secretariat, but a strong candidate is the now Beijing Secretary Cai Qi. In 2014-17, Cai served as the deputy General Office chief of the National Security Commission, chaired by Xi. Cai simply returned to his old role. 15/

Another candidate to lead the Central Secretariat is Chongqing Secretary Chen Miner, who is younger (62) than Cai (67). Either being Cai or Chen, he will simply be Xi's Chief Servant in the Politburo and deliver Xi's orders to other agencies. We will see the result tonight. 16/

Let's continue: I must first say I don’t have any special information or sensational stories. My analysis is based on publicly available information. It might be wrong precisely because my information is as limited as yours. My tool is historical and theoretical knowledge.

Li Qiang is the new premier; Zhao Leji is NPC Chairman; Wang Huning is CPPCC chairman; Cai Qi will lead the Central Secretariat; Ding will be the executive Vice premier; Li Xi is Secretary of the Commission for Discipline Inspection. WSJ is right. Cai Qi is the seventh. 17/

Originally tweeted by Yang Zhang (@ProfYangZhang) on October 22, 2022.

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