BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to retain his right-hand man, the graft-buster Wang Qishan, in a senior position at a key Communist Party Congress this month even though he has reached retirement age, according to a majority of people with ties to the leadership interviewed by Reuters.
The fate of the 69-year-old Wang, who keeps a low public profile but is often described as China’s second most powerful politician, has been a source of intense speculation ahead of the Congress, which opens on Oct. 18.
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Twelve of the 16 people with ties to China’s leadership, including former officials as well as relatives, aides and close friends of current and former senior officials, said Wang was likely to retain a leadership role. They said it was unclear what Wang’s title would be and whether he would remain on the powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. The other four said he would probably step down.
Under one scenario, Wang would become one of two vice chairmen of the National Security Commission, set up in 2013 to increase coordination among the branches of China’s security bureaucracy and headed by Xi, three of the sources said.
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Alternatively, he could become vice chairman of the Communist Party itself, if Xi resurrects the party chairmanship position, they said.
Under other scenarios, Wang could become premier – replacing Li Keqiang, a role that traditionally includes management of the economy, or head of parliament.
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“He will most likely stay on in some form, maintaining a position of power. He’s important to Xi,” said Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political commentator and historian.
“Xi has shown he is willing to break with precedent before and he’ll probably do it again with the ‘seven up, eight down’ rule for Wang,” he added, referring to the unwritten rule that officials cannot be promoted when they reach...
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