General Secretary of the Communist Party of China

Last updated on 23 August 2017

The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, officially General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, is head of the Communist Party of China and the highest-ranking official within China, a standing member of the Politburo and head of the Secretariat. The officeholder is usually considered the paramount leader of China.

According to the Constitution, the General Secretary serves as an ex officio member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's de facto top decision-making body.[1] Since the early 1990s, the holder of the post has been, except for transitional periods, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, making the holder the Supreme Military Command of the People's Liberation Army.[a]

The current General Secretary is Xi Jinping, who took office on 15 November 2012.

Xi Jinping 2016.jpg
Xi Jinping 2016.jpg

Powers and position

Since the abolition of the post of Chairman of the Communist Party of China in 12th Central Committee in 1982, the General Secretary is the highest-ranking official of the party and heads the Central Secretariat, Political bureau and its Standing Committee.

Since its revival in 1982, the post of General Secretary has been de jure the most important post in the PRC, though it did not become the de facto most important post until Deng Xiaoping's retirement in 1990. As China is a de facto one-party state, the General Secretary holds ultimate power and authority over state and government. However, the men who have held the post have held far less power than Chairman Mao Zedong. Since the mid-1990s, the General Secretary has traditionally also held the post of President of the PRC. While the presidency is nominally a ceremonial post, it is customary for the General Secretary to assume the presidency to confirm his status as de jure head of state.

Since Xi Jinping's ascendance to power, two new bodies of the Communist Party, the National Security Commission and Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, have been established, ostensibly concentrating political power in the "paramount leader" to a greater degree than anyone since Deng.[3] 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 General Secretary, that the power of the General Secretary has become more concentrated.

List of general secretaries and chairmen

Chen Duxiu.jpg

Chen Duxiu
(1 July 1921 – 7 August 1927)

Xiang Chongfai.jpg

Xiang Zhongfa
(7 August 1927 – 24 July 1931)

Chin Banxian.jpg

Bo Gu
(24 July 1931 – January 1935)

Zhang Wentian3.jpg

Zhang Wentian
(January 1935 – 20 March 1943)

Hua Guofeng-1.jpg

Hua Guofeng
(7 October 1976 – 28 July 1981)

Zhao Ziyang-1.jpg

Zhao Ziyang
(15 January 1987 – 23 July 1989)

Jiang Zemin at Hickam Air Base, October 26, 1997, cropped.jpg

Jiang Zemin
(23 July 1989 – 15 November 2002)

Hu Jintao Cannes2011.jpg

Hu Jintao
(15 November 2002 – 15 November 2012)

Xi Jinping 2016.jpg

Xi Jinping
(15 November 2012 – present)

Simplified Chinese graphic timeline of Communist Party leadership. The red bar indicates CCP General Secretaries or Chairmen, the yellow indicating the Premiers. The gray bar delineates particular periods of mainland Chinese history from a CCP perspective.

See also


  1. ^ Xi Jinping, 59, was named general secretary of the 82-million-member Communist Party and is set to take over the presidency, a mostly ceremonial post, from Hu Jintao in March.[2]


  • China Online Encyclopedia

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