Changing of the Guard: Op-Ed on China's Politburo by Prof. Jonathan Brookfield

World Policy Blog

One of the world's most important political events is slated to occur this fall. And I don’t mean the U.S. presidential election but rather the selection of a new set of members for the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party in the People's Republic of China.

Serving as the highest decision making body in China, the PSC is expected to have seven of nine of its incumbent members retire this fall, and the dramatic change in its composition will affect the future direction of China's economy, politics, stability, and foreign relations. Given China's current position in the international economy and global community, how things play out is critically important—not just for China, but for the rest of world.

At this point, who will be chosen is unclear, though analysts such as Alice Miller (Hoover Institute), Yongnian Zheng (National University of Singapore), Cheng Li (Brookings Institution), and Willy Lam (Jamestown Foundation) have come up with lists of potential new members (see Table 1). Their studies raise many questions: Who are these candidates? What patterns do we see emerging? Going forward, what complications could occur that might affect the composition of the PSC?

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