China shifts top Tibet official to Beijing ahead of next year’s CPC leadership reshuffle

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October 06, 2021 4:59 PM

Qizhala, 63, whose original name is Che Dalha, has left Lhasa to take up a new job in Beijing, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday, while there is no official announcement here yet.

This was decided at a meeting of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau presided over by Xi, who is the General Secretary of the party besides heading the military and the Presidency.This was decided at a meeting of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau presided over by Xi, who is the General Secretary of the party besides heading the military and the Presidency.

Qizhala, an ethnic Tibetan and Chairman of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, has been shifted to Beijing by the ruling Communist Party for a higher position in the national legislature ahead of the top leadership reshuffle next year and a possible unprecedented third term for President Xi Jinping, according to a media report.

Qizhala, 63, whose original name is Che Dalha, has left Lhasa to take up a new job in Beijing, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday, while there is no official announcement here yet. His vacancy is expected to be filled by Yan Jinhai, the head of the Lhasa branch of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), in a reshuffle that is part of the build-up to the five-yearly Congress of the party. Lhasa is Tibet’s provincial capital. The Congress will finalise the party’s top leadership for the next decade.

Qizhala has been head of the Tibetan government since 2017 and was expected to take on a new role in the top legislature, the National People Congress (NPC), the Post report said. His elevation to the NPC will be regarded as the fulfilment of Xi’s vision of a ‘sense of community for the Chinese nation’ which means ‘a high degree of recognition’ in the country and the party of all ethnic groups, the report said.

The CPC will formally kick off its process for next year’s key Congress by holding its sixth plenary session here in November in which more than 370 full and alternate members will participate. Next year formally marks the end of Xi’s second term. All of Xi’s predecessors retired following the mandatory rule of two five-year terms.

Over the past three decades, the party has usually used the last plenary session to address party affairs, especially on key appointments, ideology and party-building matters. Xi, 68, is widely expected to remain in power after his second tenure, possibly for life following the 2018 constitutional amendment, which removed the two-term limit for the President. He has also been made ‘core leader’ of the party in 2016, a status enjoyed only by the party’s founder Mao Zedong.

Observers will be watching to see if the party continues to follow precedent on its leadership changes, especially the informal retirement age of 68 for its top leadership set by Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping. Along with Xi, Premier Li Keqiang too will be completing his two-term limit in early 2023. Nearly a dozen of the 25 members of the Politburo will be older than 68 in October next year.

Since he took over the reins of the CPC in late 2012, Xi had consolidated his grip on power with the high-intensity anti-corruption campaign in which over a million officials, including many top military officials, were punished. Considering his ‘core leader’ status and the removal of the two term-limit for the President, Xi is widely expected to continue in power for ten more years.

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