Publication: Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2017
02 June 2017
While Asia-Pacific leaders try to assess the implications of Donald Trump’s presidency for the region’s security, they also confront the troubling question of how a planned reshuffle of China’s leadership might affect President Xi Jinping’s hold on power and his approach to challenges at home and abroad. This change in leadership will be the most significant since Xi became General Secretary of the Communist Party of China in 2012 and could have important ramifications for China’s domestic and foreign policies in his remaining years as the country’s paramount leader. It is uncertain whether Xi’s record during his first five years in power will provide a reliable guide.
Although China’s economy faces growing challenges from depressed global demand and rapidly mounting domestic debt, Xi will likely be preoccupied with politics in 2017, at least until the ruling Communist Party holds its 19th Congress and a plenary session of its newly elected Central Committee immediately afterwards. The congress, which is held every five years, will probably convene in October or November 2017 and last for about one week. The subsequent Central Committee meeting will last just a few hours and will end with the announcement of the ruling Politburo’s new line-up. At least five of the current seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) are likely to be replaced, as is one-third of the Politburo’s other 18 members.