China's Premier has issued an open challenge to Chinese Communist Party President Xi Jinping

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced on Friday that he will step down as leader of the Chinese Communist Party at the end of this year. His current term expires in March, and he has stated that he will step down from the CCP's number two post.

This is hardly a surprising development! Except for the President, all CCP leaders are limited to two terms. In 2015, Xi subtly amended the country's constitution to remove the two-term restriction for the presidency. That means that all of his cabinet ministers who joined Xi Jinping in the nation's highest cabinet in 2013 would retire this year.

At least two of the Politburo Standing Committee's seven members will retire this year. According to an unwritten age limit for key party positions, Vice Premier Han Zheng and Chinese legislature chief Li Zhanshu may be asked to step down this year. According to the informal age rule, no leader should hold a major post in the CCP if he or she is 68 or older.

Of course, the restriction does not apply to the president, who is 68 years old. He has spent the previous two years establishing himself as the country's top leader. However, most of Xi's protégés would be forced to withdraw from the race unless someone is willing to throw the cat among the pigeons by explicitly criticizing Xi's ambition for a third term.

This is where China's Premier Li Keqiang enters the scene. He's a leader with a lot of ambition. He resigned from his position at a time when the CCP is riven with infighting and internal political strife. According to an Indian Express story, retirements this year could result in as many as 11 vacancies in the CCP's top echelons. Filling these positions with fresh and youthful leaders would be a monumental challenge in the face of rising factional politics within the CCP.

Li Keqiang is cementing his influence in the shadows

Take, for example, Li Keqiang. Despite the fact that 2022 will be his final year as Prime Minister, he has been solidifying his position. Experts who follow Chinese politics think that Li Keqiang spent last year tightening his grip over the country's financial policy. According to one expert, "the difficult economic situation is forcing the administration to pursue balanced policies," according to Nikkei Asia. People are praising the premier these days."

More In a recent policy address, Li and Less Xi

When Premier Li Keqiang presented his speech on the government's successes last Saturday, Xi's very ambitious "Common Prosperity" program was barely mentioned. According to Nikkei Asia, "the plan to designate Hangzhou, where Xi served over many years, as the "model location" for common prosperity was not even discussed." There was also no mention of the "third distribution" method, which encourages digital behemoth Alibaba Group and high-income earners to donate willingly." Furthermore, the report included no mention of the establishment of a property tax, a notion that aroused strong opposition when Xi Jinping first proposed it.

Overall, the current China policy speech was more "Li" than "Xi." It highlighted how leaders like Li Keqiang were able to create up a personality cult for themselves despite startling amounts of authority focused only on Xi's personal appeal.

How Li could defeat Xi in the CCP elections this year

Li recognizes that economics is a form of politics. A great leader is always a great entrepreneur. So, in order to strengthen his grasp on power, Li dabbled in economics. He asserted his dominance over the nation's economic regime. And now, as Xi faces an increasing issue due to a lack of replacements for his retiring cabinet, Li has simply opted to step down as Premier; not because he isn't interested in guiding the nation as Premier, but because he has even higher aspirations to fulfill.

Li understands that the only way to break through the age barrier to power is to run for president. Xi is at his lowest point because the most of his lackeys are retiring this year. And this could be a fantastic opportunity for his opponents, particularly Li Keqiang, to unseat Xi Jinping, China's immensely ambitious president.

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