China Leadership Monitor

The Best Laid Plans: Xi Jinping and the CMC Vice-Chairmanship that Didn't Happen

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Contrary to the expectations of the China-watching community, Politburo Standing Committee member and presumed heir-apparent Xi Jinping was not promoted to be vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission at the Fourth Plenum in September 2009.  This outcome deals a blow to the prevailing theory of leadership succession, which predicted that Xi would follow the pattern of promotion of Hu Jintao before the 16th Party Congress en route to assuming the trifecta of state, party, and military leadership positions at the 18th Party Congress in 2012.  This article re-examines the assumptions of the promotion forecasts, analyzes the possible reasons for Xi's failure to be promoted, and offers alternative scenarios.