Xi's rising clout could mean swifter reforms

Xi's rising clout could mean swifter reforms

Chinese President Xi Jinping's concentration of power in his hands, through the proliferation of intra-party panels that he heads, could change the consultative decision-making process through collective leadership that came about in the 1990s.

Since taking over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership as general secretary in November 2012, Mr Xi has set up and taken charge of three new intra-party panels, known as leading small groups (LSGs).

The latest is the LSG within the CCP's powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) that is tasked to deepen reforms in defence and the People's Liberation Army. The group met for the first time on March 15.

The other two were set up within the CCP for the "comprehensive deepening of reforms" and cyber security issues. Mr Xi also helms the newly created National Security Commission, which is not an LSG but also an intra-party outfit.

He is also heading two existing LSGs which are traditionally led by the general secretary of the party - one for foreign policy and the other for Taiwan affairs.

Together, these six hats, on top of his three important roles as CCP general secretary, CMC chair and state president, mean Mr Xi has set a new record for the number of offices for a Chinese supremo, according to analysts.

His growing number of roles has led some to describe him as the most powerful Chinese leader since strongman Mao Zedong.

"No one can outdo Mao, but I think Xi now has more power and clout than Deng (Xiaoping) did," Wuhan University law professor Qin Qianhong told The Sunday Times.

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