Paramount leader

Paramount leader

Paramount Leader (zh-sp|s=国家最高领导人|p=guójiā zuìgāo lǐngdǎorén, literally "the highest leader of the country"), in modern Chinese political science, unofficially refers to the political leader of the People's Republic of China who hold absolute influences over culture, media, or controls the three branches of the Chinese political system (Communist Party of China, Central People's Government and People's Liberation Army) that hold real power. The current Paramount Leader of China is Hu Jintao.

The paramount leader must have held with the exception of Jiang Qing who held de facto power for a period of time :
*Chairman of the Central Military Commission
*Chairman/President of the People's Republic of China (Head of State)
*General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (highest ranking position)

Until the mid-1990s, the paramount leader was able to wield power without necessarily holding any official or formally significant governmental position. The most notable example is former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping who held supreme power in the People's Republic of China roughly from 1978 to 1989 without officially holding the top political offices. However with the passing of the Long March generation and institutionalization of power within the PRC, political power has become much more associated with the holding of political offices. In particular, since the transfer of power to Hu Jintao, the previous generation of Chinese leaders including Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji have not played an active role in political decision-making.


The term was commonly applied to Mao Zedong, who at times ruled with practically absolute power, and Deng Xiaoping, who was the most influential person in the PRC despite not holding the most powerful official positions. Following the death of Deng Xiaoping, the term has seldom been used since power is held more-or-less collectively by the members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China with the President acting as a "first among equals" figure and different factions jockeying for influence. Policy decisions are thought to be made via majority vote of Standing Committee members following internal discussions. [ [ BBC: How China is ruled] ] . For example, though Jiang Zemin left the Standing Committee in 2002 and resigned all his posts in 2004, members of the Shanghai clique (of which Jiang is a member) still retain a majority in the Standing Committee.

Leadership transition takes several months. For instance, in the case of Hu Jintao:
*General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (November 2002)
*President of the People's Republic of China (March 2003)
*Chairman of the Central Military Commission (September 2004)

Usually the office as Chairman of the Central Military Commission is the last office handed over by the previous paramount leader, in order to secure political influence and ensure political continuity.

List of Paramount leaders

To date, "paramount leader" has been applied to six individual Chinese statesmen (dates approximate and open to dispute):

ee also

*President of the People's Republic of China
*List of leaders of the Communist Party of China


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