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The Orders of precedence in China is the ranking of political leaders in China for the purposes of event protocol and to arrange the ordering of names in official news bulletins, both written and televised. It is also sometimes used to assess perceived level of political power. Although there is no formally published ranking, there is usually an established convention and protocol, and the relative positions of Chinese political figures can usually be deduced from the order in meetings and especially by the time and order in which figures are covered by the official media.

Depending on the person and the time period, the hierarchy will vary accordingly. Since the 1980s, Chinese political positions have become increasingly institutionalized. However, part of the power of Chinese leaders carry still derive from who they are, rather than what position they hold.

Individuals can hold multiple top leadership titles but also be unable to claim to be the de facto ruler as was the case with Chairman Hua Guofeng, when "paramount leader" Deng Xiaoping was present. The traditional ranking system was based upon the hierarchical line of the politburo standing committee. The names on this list includes all those officially considered "Party and State Leaders" (Chinese: 党和国家领导人).

Contents

Order of precedenceEdit

Applications of protocolEdit

The Order of Precedence has gradually become normalized as the institutions of the Communist Party and the People's Republic became more established and stable. Internal publications and official media adhere to strict ranking protocol when reporting news items or public announcements that involve multiple leaders. Similarly, the order is strictly adhered to when seating leaders at official meetings and functions.

Often, state media news programs, such as Xinwen Lianbo, overlook the actual importance of the story attached to each leader. Rather the news order is determined by political ranking alone. For instance, if a higher-ranked leader is chairing a routine meeting, while a lower-ranked leader is visiting an earthquake disaster zone, the routine meeting will take precedence over the disaster in the order that they are reported.

Protocol ordering of leaders is perhaps most visible at large gatherings of party and state leaders, such as Party Congresses, National People's Congresses, the funeral or memorial service of former leaders, or major anniversary celebrations.

The current order of precedence applies to party, state, and military leaders. It generally follows an order set out by the institutions to which these leaders belong; further ranking of individual leaders are applied within each of the institutions. Where an individual belongs to numerous party and state institutions, they are usually only mentioned on first instance for their highest-ranking post.

Order of institutionsEdit

The organs of the party, state, and military, have a generally applied rank order, as follows:

  1. Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
    1. Central Politburo
    2. Central Secretariat
  2. Central Government of the People's Republic of China (excluding the military and judicial organs)
    1. Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
    2. Presidency
    3. State Council
  3. The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)
  4. Central Military Commission (CMC)
    1. CMC of the Communist Party of China
    2. CMC of the People's Republic of China
  5. Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China
  6. Highest judicial organs
    1. Supreme People's Court
    2. Supreme People's Procuratorate

Order of leadersEdit

Order of names in official newsEdit

  1. Current members of the CPC Central Politburo Standing Committee, normally including:
    1. General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee
    2. President of the People's Republic of China
    3. Premier of the State Council
    4. Chairperson of the NPC Standing Committee
    5. Chairperson of the CPPCC National Committee
    6. Chairman of the Central Military Commission
    7. Other members of the Politburo Standing Committee, normally including:
  2. Former General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee
  3. Other current members of the Politburo, normally including:
  4. Former members of the Central Politburo Standing Committee
  5. Current Members of the CPC Central Secretariat
  6. Vice Chairpersons of the National People's Congress Standing Committee
  7. State Councilors
  8. President of the Supreme People's Court
  9. Procurators-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate
  10. Vice Chairpersons of the CPPCC National Committee, at the bottom of the list of the current national-level "Leaders of the Party and the State" (党和国家领导人)
  11. Retired "Leaders of the Party and the State", except former members of the Politburo Standing Committee, ranked by the highest office they held, repeating the same order above.
  12. Central Military Commission members except chairpersons and vice-chairpersons are not considered national-level "Leaders of the Party and State" but merely leaders of the People's Liberation Army, and generally listed separately by protocol.
    1. Current CMC members (except chairpersons and vice-chairpersons)
    2. Former CMC members (except chairpersons and vice-chairpersons)
  13. Provincial-ministerial level officials

Order of seatsEdit

  1. Current General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee
  2. Former General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee
  3. Current members of the CPC Central Politburo Standing Committee except General Secretary, normally including:
    1. President of the People's Republic of China
    2. Premier of the State Council
    3. Chairperson of the NPC Standing Committee
    4. Chairperson of the CPPCC National Committee
    5. Chairman of the Central Military Commission
    6. Other members of the Politburo Standing Committee, normally including:
  4. Former members of the Central Politburo Standing Committee except former General Secretary
  5. Other current members of the Politburo, normally including:
  6. Current Members of the CPC Central Secretariat
  7. Vice Chairpersons of the National People's Congress Standing Committee
  8. State Councilors
  9. President of the Supreme People's Court
  10. Procurators-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate
  11. Vice Chairpersons of the CPPCC National Committee, at the bottom of the list of the current national-level "Leaders of the Party and the State" (党和国家领导人)
  12. Retired "Leaders of the Party and the State", except former members of the Politburo Standing Committee, ranked by the highest office they held, repeating the same order above.
  13. Central Military Commission members except chairpersons and vice-chairpersons are not considered national-level "Leaders of the Party and State" but merely leaders of the People's Liberation Army.
    1. Current CMC members (except chairpersons and vice-chairpersons)
    2. Former CMC members (except chairpersons and vice-chairpersons)
  14. Provincial-ministerial level officials

NB:

  • The ranking of a Vice President of the PRC is normally based on whether he is a current or former Politburo Standing Committee member or other member of the Politburo.Press coverage of the March 2018 National People's Congress ranked the new Vice President Wang Qishan immediately after the Standing Committee,from which he recently retired.

National LeadersEdit

National leaders are ranked based on the offices they hold, their seniority, or sometimes simply their perceived personal prestige. During the Mao years, ranking of leaders was fairly arbitrary. For instance, during the Cultural Revolution, Mao himself dictated the exact protocol sequence depending on who was held in favour at the time.[a]

Since 1982, rankings gradually stabilized and more consistent patterns could be observed. For instance, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China always ranked first in the protocol sequence. This is despite the fact that some General Secretaries were not the pre-eminent political leaders. For example, General Secretaries Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang (both ranked first) were, in practice, subordinate to "paramount leader" Deng Xiaoping, who was ranked behind them in protocol. Deng at the time served as Chairman of the Central Military Commission and was ranked second overall in the leadership hierarchy.

The President is a largely ceremonial post, but it is typically ranked immediately after the General Secretary and before other offices of the state.[b] When the President and General Secretary are two different people (prior to 1993, and in brief interregnums in 2003 and 2013), the President is ranked second to the General Secretary. Between 1982 and 1987, the President ranked after the Premier.[c]

After the President, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the Premier, and the Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference follow; this ordering seems to supersede the Standing Committee order when officeholders are not themselves part of the Standing Committee, although typically since 1993 the heads of the "four national bodies" are concurrently members of the Standing Committee. Between 1997 and 2002, NPC Chair Li Peng was ranked second. During the same period, the Premier, Zhu Rongji, as head of government, was ranked third. The Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was ranked fourth. This ordering remained consistent between 2002 and 2012, when NPC Chair Wu Bangguo ranked above Premier Wen Jiabao. However, in 2013, this ordering changed. The Premier, Li Keqiang, was ranked 2nd, immediately after the General Secretary, and in front of the NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang.

The Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, colloquially called the Zhengzhiju Changweihui in Chinese, is the apex of political power in China. Its members (Zhengzhiju Changwei) are strictly ranked. The heads of the four national bodies typically occupy the top four ranking spots of the Standing Committee. The other members of the Standing Committee are ranked immediately after them. The rankings of the remaining Standing Committee members are determined by a combination of the offices they hold and their seniority. For example, Li Changchun served as a Standing Committee member with no strictly defined office between 2002 and 2012; between 2002 and 2007, he was ranked eighth in protocol sequence, but in 2007, having now served one term on the body, his rank rose to fifth, immediately after CPPCC chair Jia Qinglin and in front of putative successor and executive secretary of the Secretariat Xi Jinping.

The current ranking of the Politburo Standing Committee is as follows:

Portrait Information Party position(s) State position(s)
1st Name Xi Jinping General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee
Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission
Leader of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms
Chairman of the National Security Commission
President of the People's Republic of China
Chairman of the PRC Central Military Commission
Birthplace Beijing
NPC Constituency Inner Mongolia at-large
Member since 22 October 2007
2nd Name Li Keqiang Party Secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
Deputy Leader of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms
Vice Chairman of the National Security Commission
Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
Birthplace Hefei, Anhui
NPC Constituency Guangxi at-large
Member since 22 October 2007
3rd Name Li Zhanshu Party Secretary of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
Birthplace Pingshan County, Hebei
NPC Constituency Jiangxi at-large
Member since 25 October 2017
4th Name Wang Yang Party Secretary of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
Birthplace Suzhou, Anhui
NPC Constituency Sichuan at-large
Member since 25 October 2017
5th Name Wang Huning Top-ranked Secretary of the Central Secretariat of the CPC To be determined
Birthplace Shanghai
NPC Constituency Hebei at-large
Member since 25 October 2017
6th Name Zhao Leji Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection To be determined
Birthplace Xining, Qinghai
NPC Constituency Heilongjiang at-large
Member since 25 October 2017
7th Name Han Zheng Vice Party Secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China First Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
Birthplace Shanghai
NPC Constituency Shaanxi at-large
Member since 25 October 2017

Wang QishanEdit

Since 2018, Vice President Wang Qishan, himself a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, has been placed in front of the other members of the Politburo and in front of former leaders, and immediately after the sitting Politburo Standing Committee members.

Other members of the CPC PolitburoEdit

From its early history, the Politburo was theoretically a "leadership collective", with equal status accorded to each of its members. In practice, the Politburo Standing Committee members have elevated status within the body and are considered its most important and powerful members. When a new Politburo member list is first announced, or when the Politburo membership is being reported independently of other bodies, it is ordered by "the number of strokes in the surname character", a traditional method of 'alphabetization' of Chinese names; in these cases, all Politburo members, including PSC members, are named in this sequence. Unlike the PSC, Politburo members are not ranked based on presumed level of power. When it comes to seating protocol and official announcements about the Politburo in conjunction with other party and state bodies, the Politburo Standing Committee members are announced first, before the rest of the Politburo members.

The members of the Politburo Standing Committee are also Politburo members; since they are already named above, they are omitted from this list

Living former members of the Politburo Standing CommitteeEdit

Immediately following the 16th Party Congress, Jiang Zemin was ranked 2nd overall on the leadership protocol hierarchy, immediately after Hu Jintao. At the conclusion of the 18th Party Congress, when Hu Jintao retired as General Secretary, Jiang was ranked 2nd overall, after Xi Jinping, and Hu Jintao was ranked 3rd, after Jiang. Since 2013, judging mostly based on the official obituary notices of various deceased party officials, Jiang and Hu seemed to have progressively moved "lower" on the protocol strata, first below all current members of the Politburo Standing Committee, and as of 2014, behind all members of the sitting Politburo.[1]

At major functions, Jiang and Hu sat immediately next to Xi Jinping, visually giving them prominence over the other Politburo Standing Committee members on television footage. However, in the official bulletins of the functions, the names of Jiang and Hu were announced after all sitting members of the Politburo. This convention was used at the National Day banquet held on September 30, 2014,[2] the 2015 China Victory Day Parade atop Tiananmen Gate, and the opening session of the 19th Party Congress in October 2017.[3]

It should be noted that former Politburo Standing Committee members who were not "in good standing" in official party evaluations are not included in this list; this includes those ousted from positions of power but not formally expelled from the party. For instance, Zhao Ziyang and Hua Guofeng were typically omitted from this list when they were alive. Zhou Yongkang, who was convicted on corruption charges in 2015, was also removed from this list.

Ranking based on official order of news announcements for the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on October 17, 2017[4]

Name Image Born Joined Party Former highest post(s) Retired
Jiang Zemin   1926 1946 General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
President of the People's Republic of China
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
2005
Hu Jintao   1942 1964 General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
President of the People's Republic of China
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
2013
Li Peng   1928 1945 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Premier of the People's Republic of China
Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee
2003
Zhu Rongji   1928 1949 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Premier of the People's Republic of China
2003
Li Ruihuan   1934 1959 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee
2003
Wu Bangguo   1941 1964 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee
2013
Wen Jiabao   1942 1965 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Premier of the People's Republic of China
2013
Jia Qinglin   1940 1959 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee
2013
Zhang Dejiang   1946 1971 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee
2018
Yu Zhengsheng   1945 1964 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee
2018
Song Ping 1917 1937 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee 1992
Li Lanqing 1932 1952 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China
2003
Zeng Qinghong 1939 1960 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
First Secretary of the CPC Central Secretariat
Vice President of the People's Republic of China
2008
Wu Guanzheng 1938 1962 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
2007
Li Changchun   1944 1965 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee 2012
Luo Gan 1935 1960 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Secretary of the CPC Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee
2007
He Guoqiang   1943 1966 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
2012
Liu Yunshan   1947 1971 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee 2017
Zhang Gaoli   1946 1973 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China
2018

Members of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of ChinaEdit

All members of the Secretariat are concurrently members of the Politburo so they have already been listed above; the only Secretary of the Secretariat that does not hold Politburo membership is You Quan

  • You Quan, head of the Central United Front Department

Vice-Chairpersons of the National People's Congress Standing CommitteeEdit

State Councilors and Judiciary ChiefsEdit

Vice-chairpersons of the CPPCC National CommitteeEdit

In the following order:

Members of the Central Military CommissionEdit

Rankings below the National LeadershipEdit

Within the People's Republic of China, there is a statutory "National Civil Service Rankings System" to determine ranking of officials below the minister-level, stretching from the very important positions (Provincial Party Secretaries, for instance) to the lowest positions (for example, someone who is responsible for a township office). Their relative ranking determines their annual salary, living stipends, entitlement to official residences and vehicles, pensions, benefits, and so forth. Provincial leaders do not enjoy an elevated protocol rank in their own province of jurisdiction. Rather they must still be placed behind all national leaders listed above.

For the purposes of protocol rankings, the heads of national ministries technically hold the same rank as provincial governors. Therefore, they do not qualify as "national leaders". Departmental heads of the Communist Party of China, and ministers of the State Council are both called bùzhǎng (部长; literally "Head of Department"). However, many Communist Party Department heads, such as heads of the Organization and Propaganda departments, almost always hold seats on the Politburo, and thus are ranked as "national leaders". Ministers of central government departments rarely hold Politburo seats.[d] When all else is equal, the party department heads rank above state department heads; for example, the head of the Communist Party's International Liaison Department will always rank ahead of the Minister of Foreign Affairs if they appear in the same function. In a similar vein, the provincial Party Secretary will always rank above the provincial Governor.

The hierarchy of party vs. state positions is strictly adhered to for official protocol, demonstrating the 'vanguard' status of the Communist Party in Chinese politics. Generally, party positions are treated with more prestige than state positions of an equal level, but technically the official civil service privileges are the same for party and state officials of the same administrative level.[5]

Local Party Committee rankingsEdit

A Party Committee is the de facto highest ruling council of any given jurisdiction in the PRC, except for the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

In provincial, municipal, and other local-level protocol rankings, the four main institutions generally follow the ranking of:

  1. Party Secretary
  2. Chief of Government (Governor, usually a Deputy Secretary)
  3. People's Congress Chair
  4. People's Political Consultative Conference Chair

Provincial party standing committees are powerful bodies whose membership is vetted directly by the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China based on the nomenklatura system. The members of these bodies are generally ranked by date of accession to sub-provincial rank, although in practice there appears to be some variation to this rule.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ At the 11th Plenum of the 8th Central Committee in 1966, for example, Liu Shaoqi was demoted from second to eighth on the party hierarchy on personal orders from Mao, but retained the office of state president.
  2. ^ See for example the rankings of national leaders during the memorial ceremony of the Panchen Lama held in 1989; at this event, the ordering of leaders was Zhao Ziyang (as General Secretary), Yang Shangkun (as President), Li Peng (as Premier), Wan Li (as NPC Chair), Li Xiannian (as CPPCC chair), Qiao Shi (as a member of the Politburo Standing Committee).
  3. ^ For example, at the funeral of Ye Jianying in 1986, the order of leaders appeared as Hu Yaobang (as General Secretary), Deng Xiaoping (as CMC Chair), Zhao Ziyang (as Premier), Li Xiannian (as President), Chen Yun.
  4. ^ Perhaps a notable exception is Zhou Yongkang, who held a seat on the Politburo as Minister of Public Security between 2002 and 2007.

ReferencesEdit