An article published September 9, 2022 by the Chinese opposition website Aboluowang.com commented on the upcoming 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Titled "As Xi Consolidates Power, It Is Expected That The Rankings Of The 20th Politburo Standing Committee Members Will Remain Unchanged," the article stated that in the past, when centralization of power was top priority, "the standing committee would have between three and five seats, but when the focus is on balance of power, the number of [the Politburo] standing committee members is usually expanded."
It added: "The main theme of Xi Jinping's presidency is the concentration of power, so the possibility of increasing the number of Standing Committee members is low. And because Xi Jinping currently has a firm hold on power, there is no need to reduce the number of seats."
Below is the article:
'The Main Theme Of Xi Jinping's Presidency Is The Concentration Of Power'
"The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is scheduled to be held on October 16, and the reorganization of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, the core of power, has attracted the most attention from the public. Hong Kong's South China Morning Post analyzed today that the Politburo Standing Committee of the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is expected to keep 7 seats as before, due to the consolidation of power by CCP leader Xi Jinping and his goal of reducing friction within the Party.
"The South China Morning Post reported that there is no explicit limit to the number of seats on the Politburo Standing Committee. This decision-making body was first created in 1927; since then, the number of seats has changed several times to anywhere between three and 11 seats. Changes have largely taken place due to the need to centralize power or to balance factions in the Party.
"Chen Daoyin, a Chinese political scientist, said that in the past, when centralization of power was the top priority, the standing committee would have between three and five seats, but when the focus is on balance of power, the number of standing committee members is usually expanded.
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"The main theme of Xi Jinping's presidency is the concentration of power, so the possibility of increasing the number of Standing Committee members is low. And because Xi Jinping currently has a firm hold on power, there is no need to reduce the number of seats.
'Xi Does Not Need To Increase The Number Of Seats On The Standing Committee To Settle The Factions'
"Wang Duran, a commentator for aboluowang.com, said that what the South China Morning Post (which belongs to Jiang Zemin's faction) did not say is that in order to divide up Hu Jintao's power, Jiang Zemin had increased the number of Standing Committee members from seven to nine. These members each managed a department and did not report to Hu Jintao. They were the so-called 'Nine-Dragon-Water-Governing.'
"Zeng Ruisheng, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, also said that the standing committee will remain at 7 seats. In the past, the general secretaries of the Communist Party of China needed to accommodate people from different factions in the Party, so the standing committee was expanded. If the number of seats had been reduced, there would not be enough room for representatives from each of the various factions.
"Zeng Ruisheng said that Xi does not need to increase the number of seats on the Standing Committee to settle the factions, because, since he came to power, he has vigorously cracked down on corruption, and through this process, the power of other factions in the Party – including key figures, their cronies and even related grassroots cadres – has been greatly weakened.
"Wang Duran has also argued that if we say that the previous general secretaries of the CCP expanded the Standing Committee in order to accommodate different factions within the Party, it is obviously not the case for Jiang Zemin. Jiang Zemin expanded the Standing Committee from 7 to 9, and inserted 2 of his own cronies into it. He did this not to accommodate different factions within the Party, but to devalue Hu Jintao as just one of the 9 Standing Committee members.
"Niu Ben, a China politics research analyst at the Eurasia Group, said Xi was unlikely to change the size of the Standing Committee at the 20th Congress, adding that adding seats would make central decision-making more difficult, while shrinking it would prevent him from promoting his cronies.
"Niu Ben said that since Xi does not need to consolidate power by reducing the number of seats on the Standing Committee, it seems unlikely that he should adjust the number of seats on the Standing Committee at the expense of losing political leverage.
'There Is An Unwritten Rule In The CCP That The Age Limit Of Politburo Members Is So-Called 'Seven Up And Eight Down''
"The Politburo Standing Committee has always been elected by the plenary meeting of the Central Committee. Although the ranking among the Standing Committee members is based on the level of each person's office, in this mechanism, which is dominated by the general secretary and is also at the same time collective decision-making, each member of the Standing Committee has one vote.
"Because votes of the Standing Committee can determine major policies in China, the number of seats is always kept odd to avoid ties. The current seven standing committee members are Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang (Premier of the State Council), Li Zhanshu (Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress), Wang Yang (Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference), Wang Huning (First Secretary of the Secretariat), Zhao Leji (Secretary of the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection of the Communist Party of China), and (Chinese Vice Premier) Han Zheng.
"There is an unwritten rule in the CCP that the age limit of Politburo members is so-called 'seven up and eight down' (i.e., at the time of the Politburo's term change, if a member is 67 years old, he can still be re-elected, and if he is 68 years old, he must retire). According to this rule, Li Zhanshu and Han Zheng will have to step down after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Although Li Keqiang is still 67 years old, he has served two terms as prime minister which cannot be renewed, so it is predicted that he may either retire fully, or he may also remain as a member of the Standing Committee and take up other important positions. 67-year-old Wang Yang and Wang Huning face the same situation as Li Keqiang.
"Wang Duran pointed out that the South China Morning Post didn't mention that this unwritten rule 'seven up and eight down' was tailor-made by Jiang Zemin in order to kick out the 68-year-old Li Ruihuan, a member of the Standing Committee at that time.
"Chen Min'er, Secretary of the Chongqing Municipal Party Committee, Ding Xuexiang, Director of the General Office of the Central Committee; Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, Chen Quanguo, deputy head of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, Cai Qi, Secretary of the Beijing Municipal Party Committee, Li Hongzhong, Secretary of the Tianjin Municipal Party Committee, Li Xi, Secretary of the Guangdong Provincial Party Committee; Huang Kunming, Minister of the Central Propaganda Department, and Li Qiang, Secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, are key figures in the party who are seen as candidates to enter the Standing Committee of the Politburo."
 Aboluowang.com/2022/0909/1800776.html, September 9, 2022.
 The 'Nine-Dragon-Water-Governing' comes from the ancient Chinese mythology: It is the Dragon who regulates the rain, river and other watercourses. When Nine Dragons come to control the water, it may lead to confusion and inefficiency of the authority and power, and finally to system dysfunction.