tirsdag 22. februar 2022

The Re-emergence of an ‘Aerospace Clique’ in Chinese Politics?

Since the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012, several accomplished Chinese systems engineers from the China Aerospace Science and Technology (CASC) and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) have been promoted to take on provincial leadership positions. The rise of technocrats in Chinese politics is certainly not a new phenomenon. Tracing back to influential figures such as Qian Xuesen and Ding Henggao, China’s space and missile industry has enjoyed high political standing since the late 1950s. Engineer-politicians dominated the CCP’s leadership during the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao years.

However, Xi Jinping’s Politburo Standing Committee today only sees Xi himself with a questionable engineering background while all six other members are “political theorists or economists.” The re-emergence of a possible “aerospace clique (航天系)” in CCP politics under Xi’s reign is of particular interest yet largely escaped notice. Who are they? What are the political implications?