China’s number two official Premier Li Keqiang was dumped on Saturday from the country’s powerful Politburo Standing Committee.
Li, 67, is seen as reformer who has fallen out with supreme leader Xi Jinping. He was one of three standing committee members who were excluded from the new Central Committee revealed on Saturday.
Li Keqiang will remain as premier for a further six more months till new government ministers are named, probably in March.
Analysts said the removal of Li showed Xi’s tight hold on power, adding that if Li had stayed on the Standing Committee it could have allowed some pushback against Xi on economic or other policies.
But others said Li had already been partially sidelined, as Xi has had control of key government strategies such as the Zero-Covid policy.
More than 2,000 delegates to a once-every-five-years party congress in Beijing elected a 205-person Central Committee as well as 171 alternate members.
Li Zhanshu, 72, Wang Yang, 67, and Han Zheng, 68 – were the three other members of the seven-person Standing Committee excluded from the new Central Committee.
Li Zhanshu and Han Zheng had been expected to retire due to age norms.
The Central Committee will convene behind closed doors at its first plenary session, or plenum, on Sunday to vote on the next Politburo, usually comprising 25 people, and its Standing Committee.
Also excluded were Yi Gang, 64, governor of the Chinese central bank, and Guo Shuqing, 66, chairman of the banking and insurance regulator.
Vice Premier Liu He, 70,China‘s economic czar, was also excluded from the new Central Committee.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard