The 17th Party Congress in October kicked off the process of selecting China’s economic policymakers. The Party Congress was the key step in a top-down process of leadership determination that assigned politicians oversight of economics portfolios. However, not until the end of November did the assignment of one of the most important economics jobs become clear. That was when rising star Chen Deming was designated the new minister of commerce, moving over from the National Development and Reform Commission. Chen will work closely with State Council Secretary-General Ma Kai, under Premier Wen Jiabao and Executive Vice-Premier Li Keqiang. The political process has shaped the economic leadership in some surprising and unexpected ways, and some key posts are still unfilled.

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