General Secretary of the Communist Party of China

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General Secretary of the
Central Committee of the
Communist Party of China
Xi Jinping and Tsai Ing-wen 20160316 cropped.png
Xi Jinping

since 15 November 2012
Style Comrade (同志)
His Excellency (閣下)
(In international correspondence)
Type Party leader
Status Highest-ranked in China
Member of Central Committee
Politburo Standing Committee
Central Military Commission
National Security Commission
Reports to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Residence Zhongnanhai
Seat Qinzheng Hall, Zhongnanhai, Beijing
Appointer the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Term length Five Years
(no restriction on re-election)
Constituting instrument Constitution of the Communist Party of China
Precursor Chairman of the Communist Party of China
Inaugural holder Chen Duxiu (1925)
Hu Yaobang (1982)
Formation 1925 – 1943
September 1982
Unofficial names Paramount leader
Website Top Leadership
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
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China (2).svg
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The 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 the People's Republic of China. 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, a one-party communist state.[1]

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.[2] 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 and was re-elected on 25 October 2017.[b]

Powers and position[edit]

Since the abolition of the post of Chairman of the Communist Party of China by the 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.[4] 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 chairmen and general secretaries[edit]

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[edit]


  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.[3]
  2. ^ "Xi's here to stay: China leader tipped to outstay term". Daily Mail. 9 August 2016. "A lot of analysts now see it as a given" that Xi will seek to stay party general secretary, the country's most powerful post, said Christopher K. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and now China specialist at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. 


  1. ^ "China's 'Chairman of Everything': Behind Xi Jinping's Many Titles". The New York Times. 25 October 2017. 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. 
  2. ^ Chapter III Central Organizations of the Party - Article 22
  3. ^ Who’s Who in China’s New Communist Party Leadership Lineup - Bloomberg
  4. ^ "习近平频现身成常态 将回归"领导核心"?". Duowei News. January 7, 2014. 
  • China Online Encyclopedia