It would be premature to expect China's new Politburo Standing Committee, which was unveiled on 15 November, to initiate bold reforms any time soon, says Linda Jakobson, East Asia Program Director at the Lowy Institute.
Jakobson writes in The Australian that, apart from incoming General Secretary Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, the remaining men are all in their sixties and likely to be cautious about promoting far-reaching changes. Most have strong ties to 86-year-old former president Jiang Zemin, who “almost literally returned from his grave” to make his mark on the new Politburo Standing Committee. Two men with reformist reputations, Li Yuanchao, an ally of outgoing president Hu Jintao, and Guangdong Party chief Wang Yang were passed over for places on China’s top governing body. At least three of the seven are “princelings”, descendants of China’s revolutionary leaders who dominate government and industry in the PRC today.
While economists are likely to be disappointed that former vice premier Wang Qishan was not appointed to a top economic post, Jakobson writes that the “no-nonsense economist” and competent crisis manager will be well suited to tackling corruption as head of the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection. No women were elevated to the seven-member Standing Committee, although two now sit on the twenty-five member Politburo.