Leader of the Communist Party of China
The leader, now officially the General Secretary of the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of China (CPC), is by right of office the Chairman of the Central Military Commission and the President of the People's Republic of China. Since its formation in 1921, the leader's post has been titled as Secretary of the Central Bureau (1921–1922), Chairman (1922–1925, 1928–1931, and 1943–1982), and General Secretary (1925–1928, 1931–1943, and 1982 onwards).
By custom the party leader has either been elected by the Central Committee or the Central Politburo. There were several name changes until Mao Zedong finally formalised the office of Chairman of the Central Committee. Since 1982, the CPC National Congress and its 1st CC Plenary Session has been main the institutional setting in which the CPC leadership are elected. From 1992 onwards every party leader has been elected by a 1st CC Plenary Session. In the period 1928–45 the CPC leader was elected by conference, meetings of the Central Committee or by decisions of the Politburo. The last exception to this rule is Jiang Zemin, who was elected at the 4th Plenary Session of the 13th Central Committee in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Currently, to be nominated for the office of General Secretary, one has to be a member of the Politburo Standing Committee.
Despite breaching the party's constitution, several individuals (who are not included in the list) have been de facto leaders of the CPC without holding formal positions of power. Wang Ming was briefly in charge in 1931 after Xiang Zhongfa was jailed by Kuomintang forces, while Li Lisan is considered to have been the real person in-charge for most of Xiang's tenure. Deng Xiaoping is the last CPC official to achieve this; he never served as Chairman or General Secretary, his highest post being Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission.
|Secretary of the Central Bureau||1921–1922||1st National Congress|
|Chairman of the Central Executive Committee||1922–1923||2nd National Congress|
|General Secretary of the Central Bureau||1923–1925||3rd National Congress|
|General Secretary of the Central Executive Committee||1925–1927||4th National Congress|
|General Secretary of the Central Committee||1927–1928||5th National Congress|
|Chairman of the Central Committee||1928–1931||6th National Congress|
|General Secretary of the Central Committee||1931–1943||4th Plenary Session of the 6th Central Committee|
|Chairman of the Central Politburo||1943–1945||Politburo resolution|
|Chairman of the Central Secretariat||1943–1945||Politburo resolution|
|Chairman of the Central Committee||1945–1982||7th National Congress|
|General Secretary of the Central Committee||1982 onwards||12th National Congress|
|Took office||Left office||Length of tenure||Central Committee||Portfolios held while leader||Portrait|
|1 July 1921||7 August 1927||6 years and 38 days||2nd (1922–23)
|1 July 1928||24 June 1931||2 years and 359 days||5th (1927–28)
|September 1931||17 January 1935||3 years and 139 days||6th (1928–45)||
|17 January 1935||20 March 1943||8 years and 63 days||6th (1928–45)||
|20 March 1943||9 September 1976||33 years and 174 days||6th (1928–45)
|7 October 1976||28 June 1981||4 years and 265 days||11th (1977–82)|
|29 June 1981||15 January 1987||5 years and 201 days||11th (1977–82)
|16 January 1987||24 June 1989||2 years and 160 days||12th (1982–87)
|24 June 1989||15 November 2002||13 years and 145 days||13th (1987–92)
|15 November 2002||15 November 2012||10 years and 1 day||16th (2002–07)
|15 November 2012||Incumbent||5 years and 332 days||18th (2012–17)
- Paramount Leader
- Orders of precedence in the People's Republic of China
- List of leaders of the Kuomintang
- List of leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party
- List of national leaders of the People's Republic of China
References for when the individuals were elected to the office of CPC leader, the name of the offices and when they established and were abolished are found below:
- Wang, Gungwu (2012). China: Development and Governance. World Scientific Publishing Company. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-9814425841.
- 19th National Congress (2017). Constitution of the Communist Party of China Communist Party of China.
- Articles and journal entries
- Dittmer, Lowell (March 1983). "The 12th Congress of the Communist Party of China". The China Quarterly. Cambridge University Press on behalf of the School of Oriental and African Studies: 108–124. JSTOR 653335.