General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party

The general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party is the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Since 1989, the CCP general secretary has been the paramount leader of the PRC.

General Secretary of the
Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Emblem of the Chinese Communist Party
Flag of the Chinese Communist Party
Xi Jinping
since 15 November 2012
Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party
Secretariat of the Chinese Communist Party
TypeParty leader, paramount leader
Member ofPolitburo Standing Committee
Reports toNational Congress
ResidenceQinzheng Hall, Zhongnanhai[1]
NominatorCentral Committee
AppointerCentral Committee
Term lengthFive years, renewable
Constituting instrumentParty Constitution
PrecursorChairman (1943–1976)
Inaugural holderChen Duxiu
Formation23 July 1921 (1921-07-23)
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party
Simplified Chinese中国共产党中央委员会总书记
Traditional Chinese中國共產黨中央委員會總書記
Commonly abbreviated as
Simplified Chinese中共中央总书记
Traditional Chinese中共中央總書記


According to the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party, the general secretary serves as an ex officio member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's de facto top decision-making body.[2] The general secretary is also the head of the Secretariat. Since 1989, the holder of the post has been, except for transitional periods, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, making the holder the supreme commander of the People's Liberation Army.[note 1] The position of general secretary is the highest authority leading China's National People's Congress, State Council, Political Consultative Conference, Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate in the Chinese government. As the top leader of the world's largest economy by GDP purchasing power parity (PPP), the second largest economy by GDP nominal, the largest military in the world by personnel, a recognized nuclear weapons state, U.N. Security Council permanent member, and a potential superpower, the general secretary is considered to be one of the world's most powerful political figures.[4]

The CCP general secretary is nominally elected by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. In practice, the de facto method of selecting the general secretary has varied over time. The two most recent general secretaries, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, were first elevated to the position of first Secretary of the Secretariat in the same process used to determine the membership and roles of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee. Under this informal process, the first secretary would be chosen during deliberations by incumbent Politburo members and retired Politburo Standing Committee members in the lead up to a Party Congress. The first secretary would later succeed the retiring general secretary as part of a generational leadership transition at the subsequent party congress.

The incumbent general secretary is Xi Jinping, who took office on 15 November 2012 and was re-elected twice on 25 October 2017 and 23 October 2022 respectively. Xi was speculated to rule the party and the country after the 20th National Congress in 2022, removing the previous de facto two-term limit, which was confirmed at the Congress. The last person to rule the country for more than two terms was Mao Zedong, who served as Chairman of the CCP Central Committee from 1945 until his death in 1976.

Powers and position

Since the abolition of the post of Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party by the 12th Central Committee in 1982, the general secretary has been the highest-ranking official of the party and heads the Central Secretariat, Politburo and its Standing Committee.[5]

Since its revival in 1982, the post of general secretary has been the highest office in the CCP, though it did not become the most powerful post until Deng Xiaoping's retirement in 1990. As China is a one-party state, the general secretary holds ultimate power and authority over state and government,[6] and is usually considered the "paramount leader" of China.[7] However, most of the people until Xi Jinping who have held the post have held far less power than Mao Zedong.[8] Since the mid-1990s, the general secretary has traditionally also held the post of president of China. While the presidency is a ceremonial post, it is customary for the general secretary to assume the presidency to confirm his status as head of state.

Since Xi Jinping's election, two new bodies of the CCP, the National Security Commission and Central Comprehensively Deepening Reforms Commission, have been established, ostensibly concentrating political power in the "paramount leader" to a greater degree than anyone since Mao.[9] These bodies were tasked with establishing the general policy direction for national security as well as the agenda for economic reform. Both groups are headed by the CCP general secretary, thus the power of the general secretary has become more concentrated.[10]

List of general secretaries

See also


  1. Xi Jinping was named general secretary of the Communist Party and took over the chairmanship of the Central Military Commission from Hu Jintao in November 2012.[3]


  1. "文革后的中南海:中央办事效率最高的时期". Comsenz Inc. Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018..
  2. "Chapter III Central Organizations of the Party – Article 22". China Internet Information Center. Archived from the original on 18 October 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  3. "Who's Who in China's New Communist Party Leadership Lineup – Bloomberg". Bloomberg News. 15 November 2012. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  4. McGregor, Richard (21 August 2022). "Xi Jinping's Radical Secrecy". The Atlantic. Retrieved 12 September 2022.; Sheridan, Michael. "How Xi Jinping became the world's most powerful man". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 12 September 2022.; O'Connor, Tom (3 February 2022). "Xi and Putin, two of world's most powerful men, to meet in China, US absent". Newsweek. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  5. "Chinese Communist Party | political party, China". Archived from the original on 2 October 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  6. Buckley, Chris; Wu, Adam (10 March 2018). "Ending Term Limits for China's Xi Is a Big Deal. Here's Why". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2019. In China, the political job that matters most is the general secretary of the Communist Party. The party controls the military and domestic security forces, and sets the policies that the government carries out. China's presidency lacks the authority of the American and French presidencies.
  7. "China's 'Chairman of Everything': Behind Xi Jinping's Many Titles". The New York Times. 25 October 2017. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2019. Mr. Xi's most important title is general secretary, the most powerful position in the Communist Party. In China's one-party system, this ranking gives him virtually unchecked authority over the government.
  8. Phillips, Tom (24 October 2017). "Xi Jinping becomes most powerful leader since Mao with China's change to constitution". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  9. 习近平频现身成常态 将回归"领导核心"?. Duowei News. 7 January 2014. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  10. "How the Chinese government works". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 12 May 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2019. Xi Jinping is the most powerful figure in China's political system, and his influence mainly comes from his position as the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
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