John L. Thornton China Center

Liu Qibao 刘奇葆

One of China's Top Future Leaders to Watch

  • Born 1953
  • Sichuan Province party secretary (2007-present)
  • Chairman of the Sichuan Provincial People’s Congress (2008-present)
  • Full member of the CCP Central Committee (2007-present)

Personal and Professional Background

Liu Qibao was born in 1953 in Susong County, Anhui Province. Liu joined the CCP in 1971. He worked as a manual laborer in the countryside of his native county during the Cultural Revolution (1968-72). He studied for two years in the History Department of the Anhui Normal University in Wuhu City, Anhui Province (1972-74) and continued his undergraduate education at Jilin University in Changchun City, Jilin Province (1975). He graduated (on a part-time study basis) with a master’s degree in economic management from the Economics Department of Jilin University in Changchun City, Jilin (1993). Liu served as a clerk in the Propaganda Department of the CCP Committee of Anhui Province (1974-77). Liu then served as a personal secretary (mishu) in the General Office of the CCP Committee of Anhui Province (1977-80). In 1980, Liu was appointed deputy director of the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL) in Anhui Province and was promoted to director two years later. Liu served as deputy secretary and secretary of the CCYL in Anhui (1982-85) during which he concurrently served as deputy party secretary and vice mayor of Suzhou City, Anhui (1984-85). Liu worked as secretary in the Secretariat of the CCYL Central Committee (1985-93) and then as deputy editor-in-chief of People’s Daily (1993-94). Liu was deputy secretary-general of the State Council (1994-2000). Thereafter, he served as deputy party secretary of Guangxi Province (2000-06) and as party secretary of Guangxi (2006-07). Liu was elected earlier as an alternate member of the 16th Central Committee (2002) and as a full member of the 17th in 2007,). Liu has served as party secretary of Sichuan Province and first party secretary of the Sichuan Provincial Military Region since 2007 and as Provincial People’s Congress chairman of Sichuan Province since 2008.

Family and Patron-Client Ties

It has been widely reported that Liu’s first principal patron was Wan Li, a heavyweight political leader who served as first party secretary of Anhui Province from 1977 to 1980, when Liu was a mishu in the general office of the Anhui Provincial Party Committee.[1] Liu was born into a humble family of farmers with four siblings (he is the second) in Jinbei Village, Susong County. Liu has advanced his political career largely through the CCYL. He established his client relationship with Hu Jintao in the early 1980s, when Liu worked in the CCYL leadership in Anhui Province and Hu was in charge of the CCYL Secretariat. Liu and Wang Yang worked closely together at the CCYL Committee in Anhui Province in the early 1980s, when Wang was Liu’s deputy.

Political Prospects and Policy Preferences

Liu possesses broad leadership experience in the central government (the State Council), the central party propaganda organ (the People’s Daily) and top provincial posts (Sichuan and Guangxi). As the party chief of Sichuan, one of the most important provinces in the country, Liu can concurrently hold a seat in the next Politburo. Liu is a leading candidate for the post of director of the Propaganda Department of the CCP Central Committee. Liu has been known for his emphasis on technology-led enterprise and industrial innovation and development of small cities on the economic front, as well as for his conservative views regarding media control and intellectual freedom.[2]


[1] Wang Bin 王斌, “Liu Qibao is Appointed Party Secretary of Guangxi” (刘奇葆出任广西自治区党委书记) First Financial Daily (第一财经日报), June 30, 2006; also see

[2] Yang Qingxi and Xia Fei, Provincial Chiefs’ Competition for Promotion to Beijing at the 18th Party Congress, pp. 235-256.

Editor's Note: The profile above was prepared by the China Center's Cheng Li and originally appeared in the China Leadership Monitor.