Xi’s right-hand men: some of the big players by the Chinese president’s side

The Group of 20 summit is being held in China for the first time, giving Beijing the opportunity to press its claim to have a greater international say. As such, the officials in the presidential entourage play a major role, giving a glimpse of some of the power players in Chinese politics. Among the big names are:

Wang Yi

Foreign minister

Wang is China’s ­second highest-ranked diplomat and oversees the foreign ministry. He has been China’s ­ambassador to Japan and director of the State Council’s ­Taiwan Affairs Office. He has repeatedly raised eyebrows over the past year, ­including for his withering ­response to a ­Canadian ­journalist who raised a question over ­human rights in China.

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Wang Huning

Director, Central ­Policy Research ­Office

As head of the ­Communist Party’s top research office, Wang’s role is a ­combination of ­national policy ­adviser and chief speech writer. He is seen during almost all key domestic and ­international trips made by President Xi Jinping. He has gained respect among the upper echelon for his ­academic depth, political neutrality and caution.

Xu Shaoshi

Director, National ­Development and ­Reform Commission

Xu is the country’s top economic ­planner and oversees the NDRC, which is sometimes called “the small State Council”. Despite more than three ­decades of market reform, the NDRC retains sweeping power to regulate all major industries and approve projects with billion-yuan budgets, from ­airports to railways and car plants.

Liu He

Director, General Office of Central Leading Group on Economic and Financial Affairs

Liu is Xi’s top aide on economic and ­financial affairs, and oversees the ­influential leading group’s operations. He is widely believed to be the mysterious “authoritative ­person” People’s Daily quoted in May in a report casting doubt on policies pursued by the State Council under ­Premier Li Keqiang.

Wang Yang


Wang is one of the State Council’s three vice-premiers, with responsibility for business and ­commerce, tourism and agriculture. Wang also plays a key role in Sino-US ­relations, keeping in contact with US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to keep both ­countries ­informed on ­economic and policy issues, though Wang is thought to now share this role with Liu He.

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Zhou Xiaochuan

Governor, People’s Bank of China

Zhou is responsible for making and ­applying monetary policy for the world’s second-largest ­economy. Zhou is believed to have been at the centre of almost every change China has made to its financial system, from reshaping state banking to setting up the bond market to smooth the way for the yuan’s global push.

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