Like successful politicians elsewhere, President Xi Jinping assumed China’s top leadership role with the support of an inner circle. This group has been crucial to Xi’s efforts to consolidate power during his first year in office. This first article in a series of three focuses on native-place associations, namely the so-called Shaanxi Gang, which includes the “Iron Triangle” grouping in the Politburo Standing Committee. Such discussion can help reveal the future trajectory of politics and policy-making during the Xi administration. The analysis of the positioning and promotion of some of Xi’s longtime friends provides an invaluable assessment of both Xi’s current power and the potential for effective policy implementation.