Xi Strengthens Control Over Key Provinces With Leadership Reshuffle

Xi Jinping reshuffled the top leadership of seven provinces shortly after the close of the 19th Party Congress on Oct. 24. Most of the newly appointed provincial Party secretaries are in Xi’s camp. The reshuffle also left four governor posts vacant.

No. Name Age New post Former post
1 Li Xi 61 Guangdong Province Party Secretary Liaoning Province Party Secretary
2 Chen Qiufa 63 Liaoning Province Party Secretary Liaoning Province Governor
3 Li Qiang 58 Shanghai Municipal Party Secretary Jiangsu Province Party Secretary
4 Lou Qinjian 61 Jiangsu Province Party Secretary Shaanxi Province Party Secretary
5 Hu Heping 55 Shaanxi Province Party Secretary Shaanxi Province Governor
6 Yu Weiguo 62 Fujian Province Party Secretary Fujian Province Governor
7 Wang Dongfeng 59 Hebei Province Party Secretary Tianjin City Mayor

Background: The flurry of provincial leader appointments were made to replace former Shanghai chief Han Zheng, former Guangdong chief Hu Chunhua, former Fujian chief Ji Youquan, and former Hebei chief Zhao Kezhi. The aforementioned officials all received promotions at the 19th Congress.

Why it matters: Communist Party factions try to get their supporters into the top provincial leadership office to grow their influence. The Party secretary slots in Shanghai and Guangdong are particularly sought after because these provincial leaders are virtually locked in for a slot on the Politburo and may even be groomed as future Party leader.

Our take:

1. Xi has the upper hand in this personnel reshuffle

  • Three of the seven new provincial Party secretaries are either in Xi Jinping’s camp or are his former colleagues. Two of the remaining three are technocrats, while the last remaining provincial chief is loosely linked with the Jiang faction.  

2. Xi sticks to tried and tested personnel selection method

  • Xi tends to pick trusted allies for key positions where possible.
  • If allies are in short supply, Xi selects technocrats who tend to be outside the factional struggle.
  • Provincial governors are sometimes elevated to replace outgoing provincial Party secretaries.
  • Expect Xi to frequently reshuffle the provincial posts and keep a watchful eye.

3. Anti-corruption efforts will be stepped up in Shanghai and Guangdong.