The Communist Party's Enigmatic Hierarchy In One Simple Chart

In the same week that the U.S. relected president Obama, China has kicked off its once-in-a-decade leadership transition. While the U.S. electoral system is well known, the structure of the Chinese communist party and its leadership handover is still baffling to many.

We found this chart from a report by John Dotson at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) that shows the hierarchy in the communist part as seen on the left, and the seven departments under the Secretariat.

The Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) is the most important decision making body in the Chinese Communist Party. From Dotson:

"Members of the Politburo should come from the Central Committee, members of the PSC from the Politburo, and the CCP General Secretary should arise from the PSC. In practice, however, the process is top-down rather than bottom-up."

The right side of the chart shows the Secretariat which "turn(s) Politburo decisions into operational instructions" for the seven departments it oversees. The importance of the Secretariat has become increasingly apparent since those appointed to positions in it have been senior officials. Xi Jinping is the current executive secretary, and current president Hu Jintao was general secretary from 2002 - 2007.

Note: A version of this article was first published in September.

Don't Miss: How China's Mysterious Leadership Transition Works >

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