Focus topics

20th Party Congress: changes in Xi Jinping’s wake

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Xi will (likely) stay for a third term 

  • The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will meet for its 20th party congress in October or November 2022. The 2,300-member party congress convenes every five years and features major personnel turnover in the Central Committee, among which the country’s top and future leaders will be selected. ​
  • Xi will almost certainly receive a third term. After the removal of the presidential term limit in 2018, the recent adoption of the third historical resolution of the CCP in November 2021 elevated Xi’s status to a new height. The first and second such resolutions were adopted during the Mao and Deng eras, respectively. ​

Substantial reshuffling and generational change underway

  • The nomination age ceiling for the Central Committee means about half of the full Committee members are to be replaced. For the first time, officials born in the 1960s or later will be in the majority. ​
  • The same age dynamics apply to the top leaders. While the 1950s generation still dominates the 25-seat Politburo, the age norms (retirement by age 68) means upcoming personnel change. This will affect prominent politicians including Liu He (69), who orchestrated the US-China trade negotiations, Yang Jiechi (71), foreign minister and current premier Li Keqiang (67). ​
  • Many China observers see this major demographic shift as a rare moment in the political system. But the impact on actual policymaking should not be overestimated. The new generation will still be highly aligned with Xi’s vision: Even though the generations born after 1965 generally show more pro-market attitudes, factional ties and personal networks weigh heavy in party advancement, ensuring alignment. ​

Major policies to be expected in post-congress 2023

  • Before the political transition is done, don’t expect any major policy surprises. Local governments and officials will also avoid big moves in the pre-congress period. A party congress is a place to review, evaluate and confirm existing policies, not to launch new ones. ​
  • But companies should watch very closely which themes get the most attention in the post-congress presidential speech. They will be enforced with the highest political priority and commitment in 2023 and beyond. Common prosperity will likely be one of them.​
  • Companies should assess their strategic positioning in China in light of these policies priorities to make well-informed choices on compliance, brand visibility, business development and beyond. ​


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