Rejuvenation of the party-state: The virtues and limits of an age-based political system

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It is widely recognized that the political system in the PRC is more institutionalized and predictable than in the past, and that its regular rejuvenation is a source of strength. While not denying the virtues of the age-based system, this paper argues that there are limits on the forced rejuvenation scheme. It looks at how cadres on the CCP's Central Committee are excluded from competing for the top leadership positions because of their age. Four groups of elite are identified, T2 (zongshuji, zongli), SCP-T2 (changwei), PB-SCP (juwei), and CC-PB (zhongwei), and their frustration over exclusion from competing for the T2 positions in the next major leadership turnover (next even-numbered Party Congress) measured (Exclusion and Frustration Rate, EFR). An overall score is also calculated to measure the total frustration with the system (Total Exclusion and Frustration, TEF). It is shown that the EFR and TEF are extremely high, and tension is bound to accumulate in the system. Finally, the Bo Xilai case is explored to demonstrate how aspiring cadres may be discriminated against by the system and thus inclined to rebel against it. It is advised that instead of simply accepting the system as it stands and calculating how personnel decisions will be churned out, more attention should be given to its limits and sustainability in the long term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-128
Number of pages30
JournalIssues and Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • 18th Party Congress
  • Bo Xilai
  • Political succession
  • Rejuvenation
  • Tuanpai


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