Anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan was not named to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) new Central Committee on Oct. 24, the closing day of the 19th Party Congress.
Wang’s exclusion from the Central Committee indicates that he won’t be part of the new Politburo and its Standing Committee, and won’t stay on as head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
Why it matters: Wang’s political future was a subject of intense scrutiny in the lead up to the 19th Congress. Whether or not Wang has an official position will affect Xi Jinping’s ability to implement his policies and push through significant reforms.
1) Wang Qishan’s lack of a Party position doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t be overseeing Xi’s anti-corruption drive.
- We believe that Wang will head the new National Supervisory Commission when it is inaugurated in March 2018.
- Xi may even appoint Wang as Chinese vice president and hand him a diplomatic portfolio. (See our earlier analysis.)
2) Xi could elevate the state apparatus while weakening the Party’s authority.
- During his 19th Congress address, Xi said that the CCP will grant more autonomy to local governments at the provincial level and below.
- Xi also said that the CCP will explore ways merge Party and state organs at the provincial, county, and city level whose functions are similar or overlap.
- We believe that the merging of Party and state organs in the provinces and below will erode the CCP’s control over the government. This development will eventually affect the various central Party agencies.
- The merging of Party and state organs is in accordance with Xi’s promotion of constitutionalism and the rule of law.
3) Wang being left out of the Central Committee may be Xi’s compromise with the Jiang Zemin faction.
- Xi could have agreed to leave Wang Qishan out of the Central Committee in exchange for adding a political thought bearing his name into the CCP constitution.
- We believe that Xi has only temporarily given up ground on this front, and he will still find other channels for Wang to drive the anti-corruption campaign.
- We anticipate a fierce confrontation between the Xi leadership and the Jiang faction in the coming five months before Wang can be formally appointed as National Supervisory Commission director.
See our earlier analysis on Wang Qishan and the direction of the anti-corruption campaign.