General Secretary of the Communist Party of China

The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (Chinese: 中国共产党中央委员会总书记) is head of the Communist Party of China and the highest-ranking official within the People's Republic of China.[3] The General Secretary is a standing member of the Politburo and head of the Secretariat. The officeholder is usually considered the "paramount leader" of China.[4]

General Secretary of the
Central Committee of the
Communist Party of China
Emblem of the Communist Party of China
Flag of the Communist Party of China
Xi Jinping

since 15 November 2012
Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
TypeParty leader, Paramount leader
Reports toNational Congress of the Communist Party of China
SeatQinzheng Hall, Zhongnanhai, Beijing[1][2]
NominatorCentral Committee of the Communist Party of China
AppointerCentral Committee of the Communist Party of China
Term lengthFive years, no term limit
Constituting instrumentConstitution of the Communist Party of China
Inaugural holderChen Duxiu (1925)
Hu Yaobang (1982)
FormationJanuary 1925
September 1982
General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
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
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

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.[5] 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 Military Command of the People's Liberation Army.[note 1] The General Secretary is nominally elected by the Central Committee. 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 select the membership and roles of the Politburo Standing Committee. Under this informal process, the First Secretary would succeed the retiring General Secretary as part of a generational leadership transition.

The current General Secretary is Xi Jinping, who took office on 15 November 2012 and was re-elected on 25 October 2017.

Powers and position

Since the abolition of the post of Chairman of the Communist Party of China by the 12th Central Committee in 1982, the General Secretary has been the highest-ranking official of the party and heads the Central Secretariat, Political Bureau and its Standing Committee.[7]

Since its revival in 1982, the post of General Secretary has been a de jure government position, 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 one-party state, the General Secretary holds ultimate power and authority over state and government. However, most of the people 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 election, 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 Mao.[8] 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, thus the power of the General Secretary has become more concentrated.[9]

List of general secretaries

See also


  1. Xi Jinping, 59, was named general secretary of the 82-million-member Communist Party and took over the presidency, a mostly ceremonial post, from Hu Jintao in March 2013.[6]



  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. Li, Xiaoqing (10 June 2015). "卓琳以死相逼之前 曾被江泽民一度糊弄". Epoch USA, Inc. The Epoch Times. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  3. Chris Buckley and Adam Wu (10 March 2018). "Ending Term Limits for China's Xi Is a Big Deal. Here's Why. - Is the presidency powerful in China?". 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.
  4. "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.
  5. "Chapter III Central Organizations of the Party - Article 22". Archived from the original on 18 October 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  6. "Who's Who in China's New Communist Party Leadership Lineup - Bloomberg". Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 October 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. 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.
  9. "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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