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General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party
Nominated by Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Appointed by Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Incumbent Xi Jinping
Simplified Chinese 中国共产党中央委员会总书记
Traditional Chinese 中國共產黨中央委員會總書記
Commonly abbreviated as
Simplified Chinese 中共中央总书记
Traditional Chinese 中共中央總書記

The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (Chinese language: 中国共产党中央委员会总书记) is the Paramount leader of China. The General Secretary is the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the highest-ranking official within the People's Republic of China (PRC). The General Secretary is a standing member of the Politburo and head of the Secretariat.

According to the Constitution, the General Secretary serves as an ex officio member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's de facto top decision-making body.[1] Since 1989, the holder of the post has been, except for transitional periods, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, making the holder the Supreme Military Command of the People's Liberation Army.[note 1]

The General Secretary is nominally elected by the Central Committee. In practice, the de facto method of selecting the General Secretary has varied over time. The two most recent General Secretaries, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, were first elevated to the position of First Secretary of the Secretariat in the same process used to determine the membership and roles of the Politburo Standing Committee. Under this informal process, the First Secretary would be chosen during deliberations by incumbent Politburo members and retired Politburo Standing Committee members in the lead up to a Party Congress. The First Secretary would later succeed the retiring General Secretary as part of a generational leadership transition at the subsequent party congress.

The current General Secretary is Xi Jinping, who took office on 15 November 2012 and was re-elected on 25 October 2017.

Powers and position[edit | edit source]

Since the abolition of the post of Chairman of the Communist Party of China by the 12th Central Committee in 1982, the General Secretary has been the highest-ranking official of the party and heads the Central Secretariat, Political Bureau and its Standing Committee.[3]

Since its revival in 1982, the post of General Secretary has been a de jure government position, the most important post in the PRC, though it did not become the de facto most important post until Deng Xiaoping's retirement in 1990. As China is a one-party state, the General Secretary holds ultimate power and authority over state and government,[4] and is usually considered the "paramount leader" of China.[5] However, most of the people until Xi Jinping who have held the post have held far less power than Chairman Mao Zedong.[6] Since the mid-1990s, the General Secretary has traditionally also held the post of President of the PRC. While the presidency is nominally a ceremonial post, it is customary for the General Secretary to assume the presidency to confirm his status as de jure head of state.

Since Xi Jinping's election, two new bodies of the Communist Party, the National Security Commission and Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, have been established, ostensibly concentrating political power in the "paramount leader" to a greater degree than anyone since Mao.[7] These bodies were tasked with establishing the general policy direction for national security as well as the agenda for economic reform. Both groups are headed by the General Secretary, thus the power of the General Secretary has become more concentrated.[8]

List of general secretaries[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Xi Jinping, 59, was named general secretary of the 82-million-member Communist Party and took over the presidency, a mostly ceremonial post, from Hu Jintao in March 2013.[2]

References[edit | edit source]

Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. "Chapter III Central Organizations of the Party - Article 22". http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/49109.htm#4. 
  2. "Who's Who in China's New Communist Party Leadership Lineup - Bloomberg". https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-15/who-s-who-in-china-s-new-communist-party-leadership-lineup.html. 
  3. "Chinese Communist Party | political party, China". https://www.britannica.com/topic/Chinese-Communist-Party. 
  4. Chris Buckley and Adam Wu (10 March 2018). "Ending Term Limits for China's Xi Is a Big Deal. Here's Why. - Is the presidency powerful in China?". https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/10/world/asia/china-xi-jinping-term-limit-explainer.html. "In China, the political job that matters most is the general secretary of the Communist Party. The party controls the military and domestic security forces, and sets the policies that the government carries out. China’s presidency lacks the authority of the American and French presidencies." 
  5. "China's 'Chairman of Everything': Behind Xi Jinping's Many Titles". 25 October 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/25/world/asia/china-xi-jinping-titles-chairman.html. "Mr. Xi’s most important title is general secretary, the most powerful position in the Communist Party. In China’s one-party system, this ranking gives him virtually unchecked authority over the government." 
  6. Phillips, Tom (2017-10-24). "Xi Jinping becomes most powerful leader since Mao with China's change to constitution" (in en-GB). The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/24/xi-jinping-mao-thought-on-socialism-china-constitution. 
  7. "Archived copy". Duowei News. January 7, 2014. http://china.dwnews.com/news/2014-01-07/59365920.html. 
  8. "How the Chinese government works". https://multimedia.scmp.com/widgets/china/govt-explainer/index.html. "Xi Jinping is the most powerful figure in China's political system, and his influence mainly comes from his position as the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party." 

Sources[edit | edit source]

  • China Online Encyclopedia
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