Understanding the 19th National Congress of
China's Communist Party

China's Communist Party will hold its National Congress from October 18th.
Major decisions on the party's leadership and basic policies are made at this meeting, held only once every 5 years.
Attention is focused on where President Xi Jinping will lead the country as he enters his second term.
We offer a detailed and in-depth analysis, starting from the very basics.
Understanding the 19th National Congress of China's Communist Party

General Secretary

Xi Jinping Profile

No.1 Xi Jinping (64)

President

General Secretary, Communist Party of China

Chairperson, Central Military Commission

Xi was born in Beijing and is the son of Xi Zhongxun, a former vice premier. Xi Jinping was sent to a farming village when he was 15 years old during the Cultural Revolution. He lived in a cave there on a mountain slope for years.

Toward the end of the Cultural Revolution, he returned to Beijing. After graduating from the prestigious Tsinghua University, he worked as a secretary at the Communist Party's Central Military Commission. He then served as a senior official in the Hebei, Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces for 25 years. In 2006, the Shanghai municipal party chief was dismissed over a corruption scandal. Xi was selected to take over the post the following year.

At the party congress that year, he was promoted by 2 ranks in an unusual move and chosen as a member of the supreme leadership body of the Politburo Standing Committee.

In 2012, he was elected as the party's General Secretary and was officially selected as president at the National People's Congress the next year.

Last year, Xi was designated as the party's "core leader," an elevated position in the top leadership.

Xi's wife, Peng Liyuan, is a famous singer. She belonged to a musical troupe of the People's Liberation Army.

Politburo Standing Committee Members

Li Keqiang Profile

No.2 Li Keqiang (62)

Premier

Li is from Anhui Province in inland China. He studied law at the prestigious Peking University and specialized in economics at graduate school.

While doing his graduate studies, Li joined the party's Communist Youth League. In the 1980s, he worked alongside Hu Jintao, who was the league's first secretary and later became China's top leader.

Li visited Japan in 1985 as deputy chief of a Chinese youth delegation that was headed by Hu. Li served as head of the youth league for years from 1993. Li became the party chief of Henan Province in 2002 and then assumed the same position for Liaoning Province in 2004.

At the party congress in 2007, he was promoted by 2 ranks in an unusual move and chosen as a member of the supreme leadership body of the Politburo Standing Committee, together with Xi Jinping.

He assumed the second-highest position in China's leadership in 2012, and has been serving as premier since the following year.

Zhang Dejiang

No.3 Zhang Dejiang (70)

Yu Zhengsheng

No.4 Yu Zhengsheng (72)

 Liu Yunshan

No.5 Liu Yunshan (70)

Wang Qishan Profile

No.6 Wang Qishan (69)

Secretary, Central Commission for Discipline Inspection

Wang Qishan was born in Shandong Province. He is a son-in-law of Yao Yilin, who served as China's first vice premier.

As a youth, he worked in a rural village in Shaanxi Province during the Cultural Revolution and studied history at a university in Xi'an.

He joined the Communist Party in 1983. He had been involved for years in agriculture policies.

He later became vice governor of the Chinese central bank, the People's Bank of China.

He became the mayor of Beijing in 2004 and led preparations for the Olympic Games in the capital.

In 2007, Wang was elected as a member of the party's Political Bureau and served as vice premier in charge of finance and commercial affairs from the following year.

At the party congress in 2012, Wang entered the ranks of the Politburo Standing Committee, which is the country's top leadership body.

Wang became the chief of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and worked as the right-hand man of President Xi in his anti-corruption campaign.

One major question for this year's congress is whether the 69-year-old Wang will stay on as a Politburo member despite the practice of having people age 68 or older retire.

Zhang Gaoli

No.7 Zhang Gaoli (70)

Politburo Members

Ma Kai

Ma Kai (71)

Wang Huning Profile

Wang Huning (61)

Director, Central Policy Research Center of the Communist Party

Wang Huning is from Shandong Province. He graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai and started to teach international politics at the university, later becoming a professor.

In 1995, Wang joined the Communist Party's Central Policy Research Office, which does surveys and research on key policies and gives advice to the country's leadership. He headed the politics division of the research office and was involved in drafting critical documents.

Wang later began to accompany former Chinese President Jiang Zemin as an adviser on his trips to the United States and international conferences.

Wang was promoted to director of the Central Policy Research Office in 2002 under the leadership of Hu Jintao, who served as president at the time.

He was named as a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party in 2012.

Wang gained respect in the Chinese leadership and has significant influence in policy-making in the country. He is called "the top brain in the Zhongnanhai district," where members of the leadership and other prominent figures reside.

Liu Yandong

Liu Yandong (71)

Liu Qibao

Liu Qibao (64)

Xu Qiliang

Xu Qiliang (67)

Sun Chunlan

Sun Chunlan (67)

Li Jianguo

Li Jianguo (71)

Li Yuanchao Profile

Li Yuanchao (66)

Vice President

Li Yuanchao is from Jiangsu Province, eastern China. After working as a teacher in Shanghai, he joined the Communist Party in 1978.

Li served as a senior official of the Communist Youth League for years and supported China's former President Hu Jintao when he was the head of the youth group.

Li became the party chief of Jiangsu Province in 2002. In 2007, he was selected as a member of the Political Bureau and served in posts including the head of the party's organization department in charge of human resources.

In 2013, he became China's vice president. It was a rare instance in which a non-member of the Politburo Standing Committee was named for the role.

Wang Yang Profile

Wang Yang (62)

Vice Premier

Wang Yang is from Anhui Province. After working at a food processing plant there, he joined the Communist Party in1975. He then served as a senior official of the Communist Youth League of China.

He was appointed as the party chief of the Chongqing Municipal Committee in 2005.

At the 2007 party congress, he was selected as a member of the party's Political Bureau in a promotion by 2 ranks. He advocated for economic structural reform as the party chief of Guangdong Province.

He became China's vice premier in 2013. He is known for his economic expertise and helped lead the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Zhang Chunxian

Zhang Chunxian (64)

Fan Changlong

Fan Changlong (70)

Meng Jianzhu

Meng Jianzhu (70)

Zhao Leji Profile

Zhao Leji (60)

Head, Organization Department of the Communist Party

Zhao Leji was born in Qinghai Province. He studied philosophy at Peking University and joined the Communist Party in 1975.

He built his political career in Qinghai Province over more than 20 years. He also hailed from the party's youth league.

He became the governor of the province at the age of 42, and then became the party chief of the Qinghai Provincial Committee.

He served as the party chief of Shaanxi Province from 2007.

At the previous party congress in 2012, he was appointed as a member of the Political Bureau and as the head of the Organization Department, which is in charge of the human resources of the party.

Hu Chunhua Profile

Hu Chunhua (54)

Secretary, Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Communist Party

Hu Chunhua is from Hubei Province, inland China. After graduating from Peking University, he joined the Communist Party in 1983.

He spent much of his political career in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. He worked under former President Hu Jintao, who was then the party chief of the region.

Similar to Hu Jintao and Premier Li Keqiang, Hu Chunhua became first secretary of the Communist Youth League in 2006.

In 2009, he was appointed as party chief of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

At the previous party congress in 2012, Hu was selected as a member of the Political Bureau at the age of 49.

He is now seen as a candidate for the next generation of leadership.

Hu Chunhua is regarded as being close to Xi Jinping's predecessor Hu Jintao. But in August, he wrote an article in the Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, pledging allegiance to Xi.

People will be watching to see whether Hu will get a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee at this year's party congress.

Li Zhanshu Profile

Li Zhanshu (67)

Director, General Office of the Central Committee

Li Zhanshu is from Hebei Province near Beijing. He joined the Communist Party in 1975 and started his political career in the province. He served as head of the provincial Communist Youth League.

China watchers say Li built a relationship with President Xi Jinping when Xi spent 3 years in Hebei Province in the early 1980's.

Li later became the governor of Heilongjiang Province, and then the party chief of Guizhou Province.

In 2012, he was appointed as a member of the party's Political Bureau. He took office as director of the General Office of the Central Committee, which is in charge of aiding the administrative affairs of General Secretary Xi Jinping.

Li is viewed as having Xi's deep trust. Attention is focused on whether Li will get a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee at this year's party congress.

Guo Jinlong

Guo Jinlong (70)

Han Zheng Profile

Han Zheng (63)

1953.6

Secretary, Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party

Han Zheng is from Zhejiang Province near Shanghai. He joined the Communist Party in 1979 and has spent most of his political career in Shanghai. He also hails from the party's youth league.

He became the mayor of Shanghai in 2003 at the age of 48. Han later worked under Xi Jinping, who became Shanghai's party chief in 2007 after his predecessor was discharged in a corruption scandal.

Han contributed to hosting the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. He also went on to become the city's party chief in 2012 and has since stayed in the position.

China watchers say Han is close to former Chinese President Jiang Zemin. But recently, Han has repeatedly made remarks in support of an anti-corruption drive led by President Xi.

At the recent 3-party congress, the head of Shanghai was chosen to be a member of the party's Politburo Standing Committee, which is the country's top leadership body.

Key Figures

Chen Min'er Profile

Chen Min'er (57)

Secretary, Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party

Chen Min'er is from Zhejiang Province near Shanghai. After he joined the Communist Party in 1982, he built his political career in the province over more than 30 years.

He served as the head of the party's publicity department when Xi Jinping was the party chief of the province.

He was appointed as the governor of Guizhou Province in 2012 and then became the party chief of the province.

In July, he became the party chief of the Chongqing Municipal Committee after the former head, Sun Zhengcai, was ousted from the post for an alleged serious violation of discipline.

Chen is viewed as a candidate for the next generation of leadership. Attention is focused on whether Chen will be promoted by 2 ranks in an unusual move and chosen as a member of the Politburo Standing Committee at this year's party congress.

Xi Jinping was chosen as a member of the top leadership body in 2007 through such a process.

Cai Qi Profile

Cai Qi (61)

Secretary, Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party

Cai Qi is from Fujian Province, eastern China. He joined the Communist Party in 1975.

He built his career in the province over more than 20 years. He also served in Zhejiang Province for 15 years from 1999. Cai worked under Xi Jinping for many years in the 2 provinces and is viewed as close to Xi.

He was appointed Beijing mayor in January of this year, and in just 4 months he won another promotion to the party chief of the capital.

Given Cai's predecessors in Beijing were appointed to the Political Bureau of the party, Cai is also expected to be given a seat in the decision-making body at this year's party congress.

What is the Communist Party Congress?