China Leadership Monitor

Xi Jinping's Inner Circle: The Shaanxi Gang

Like successful politicians elsewhere, President Xi Jinping assumed China’s top leadership role with the support of an inner circle. This group has been crucial to Xi’s efforts to consolidate power during his first year in office. Xi’s inner circle of confidants has smoothed the way for him to undertake a bold anti-corruption campaign, manage the Bo Xilai trial, and begin the process of crafting ambitious economic reforms. This series examines various power bases that make up Xi’s inner circle—individuals who serve as his hands, ears, mouth, and brain.

This first article focuses on native-place associations, namely the so-called Shaanxi Gang, which includes the “Iron Triangle” grouping in the Politburo Standing Committee. Such discussion can help reveal the future trajectory of politics and policy-making during the Xi administration. The analysis of the positioning and promotion of some of Xi’s longtime friends provides an invaluable assessment of both Xi’s current power and the potential for effective policy implementation.

This excerpt is part of a paper that will appear in the upcoming issue of the China Leadership Monitor. Download the paper in full below.

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