Closer Look: Xi’s Leadership of Top Economic Group Follows Pattern

06.20.2014 18:22

Closer Look: Xi’s Leadership of Top Economic Group Follows Pattern

While Xinhua set a precedent by naming the members of the key party body, the fact it is led by the general secretary is unsurprising

By staff reporter Wu Peng

(Beijing) – Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping’s chairmanship of a top economic decision-making group has generated discussion about his expanding power and role in China’s reforms.

Xi is the chairman of the Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, an economic decision-making body comprising top party leaders and government officials, Xinhua reported on June 13, the day the group met for the sixth time in Xi’s administration. For the first time ever, Xinhua listed all the members in the group, including party No. 2 Li Keqiang, its vice chairman.

The party has several leading groups of this sort to handle decision-making for various fields, including public security, rural affairs and ideology.

The news that Xi was atop this group took some people by surprise. As the top figure in the party, Xi already wears multiple hats. He heads the leadership groups for deepening reform, Internet security and information, and the national security commission. The news indicates the man who already enjoys the most political power granted by the constitution also presides over several vital fields, ranging from national security and foreign affairs to social management and economics.

Some media reports said Xi’s taking the position was unusual because it is more often held by the premier, in this case Li.

But Southern Weekend, a newspaper in Guangdong Province, published an article correcting this misconception on June 19. It said the job has been held by the party’s general secretary since 1987, citing several sources close to the group and retired senior officials. Former party general secretary Jiang Zemin held the position, and Hu Jintao took over after him. The premiers of those administrations acted as vice chairs of the group.

A premier did lead the financial and economics group for a short period in the past. In early 1980s, Zhao Ziyang led the top economic decision-making body of the day. Back then it was the Finance and Economics Commission under the State Council, the country’s cabinet. The commission was reformed and became the current leadership group around that time. When Zhao was promoted to party general secretary he kept the chairmanship of the commission. His successor, Jiang, continued to hold the position after the leadership transition in 1989. In other words, Xi and Li are following a decades-old tradition.

The group plays an essential role in setting five-year plans, drafting government work reports, organizing central economic meetings and providing guidance on economic policies. Other members of the body are typically on the 25-member Politburo, the party’s second highest decision-making group, who handle economics matters; senior officials from the State Council; and other senior officials from economic planners.

Besides Xi, Li and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, others who attended the meeting included vice premier Liu Yandong, Wang Yang and Ma Kai; the director of the Central Policy Research Center, Wang Huning; the director of the party’s General Office, Li Zhanshu; central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan; the ministers of water, housing, land resources, and industry and information technology; and representatives from foreign affairs and the military.

Nonetheless, the leadership line-up signals the party continues to put its most senior man in the job.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: