The South China Morning Post has delivered the most convincing report yet that Wang Qishan will adhere to the party’s retirement age and step down from the Politburo Standing Committee.
Two sources say they have viewed lists of candidates for the Central Committee and the anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Neither of the lists included Wang’s name, a sign that he will indeed step down from his current position.
One source cited by SCMP said that Xi might carve out a new role for Wang, such as a position at the National Security Commission, which was established in 2014.
Wang has been at the center of debate, especially overseas, about the nature of Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power. Some speculated that if Wang stayed on the Standing Committee and a clear successor to Xi Jinping was not elevated, it would signal a major break to established political norms in China.
With Wang apparently stepping down, and with the potential for party leadership to send another signal by appointing a successor, the focus will now be shifted to another question. If “Xi Jinping Thought” is written into the party constitution and becomes compulsory education in schools, will it matter what title Xi maintains?
After his second term ends, Xi would remain the only figure among current Chinese leadership with an eponymous ideological contribution in the constitution, bestowing authority that may transcend his official role.