BEIJING (AP) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the nation’s No. 2 official and a proponent of economic reforms, is among four of the seven members who will not be reappointed to the nation’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

They were not on the list released Saturday of the ruling Communist Party’s new 205-member Central Committee, which means they cannot serve on the Standing Committee.

The others dropped from the list were Shanghai party chief Han Zheng, party advisory body head Wang Yang, and Li Zhanshu, a longtime ally of leader Xi Jinping and the head of the largely ceremonial National People’s Congress.

The new Central Committee was approved at the closing session of a Communist Party congress that set the leadership and agenda for the next five years.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

BEIJING (AP) — China’s ruling Communist Party approved an amendment of the party constitution Saturday that could further enhance Xi Jinping’s stature as China’s leader.

The expected move came at the closing session of a weeklong party congress that set the national agenda for the coming five years.

The text of the amendment was not immediately released, but before its approval an announcer read out the reasoning behind it, repeatedly mentioning Xi and his accomplishments in strengthening the military and the economy and reinforcing the party’s authority.

Xi, in brief closing remarks, said the revision “sets out clear requirements for upholding and strengthening the party’s overall leadership.”

At the previous congress in 2017, the party elevated Xi’s status by enshrining his ideas — known as “Xi Jinping Thought” — in its charter.

The roughly 2,000 delegates — wearing blue surgical masks under China’s strict zero-COVID policy — also formally elected a new Central Committee of 205 members to govern the party for the next five years, state media said. Xi is expected to retain the top spot when the new leadership of the party is unveiled Sunday.

Foreign media were not allowed into the first part of the meeting, presumably when the voting was taking place, at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.

Police were stationed along major roads, with bright red-clad neighborhood watch workers at regular intervals in between, to keep an eye out for any potential disruptions.

An individual caught authorities by surprise last week by unfurling banners from an overpass in Beijing that called for Xi’s removal and attacked his government’s tough pandemic restrictions.

A report read by Xi at the opening session of the congress a week ago showed a determination to stay on the current path in the face of domestic and international challenges.

Xi has emerged during his first decade in power as one of China’s most powerful leaders in modern times, rivaling Mao Zedong, who founded the communist state in 1949 and led the country for a quarter-century.

An expected third five-year term as party leader would break an unofficial two-term limit that was instituted to try to prevent the excesses of Mao’s one-person rule, notably the tumultuous 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, under which Xi suffered as a youth.

Xi has put loyalists in key positions and taken personal charge of policy working groups. In contrast, factions within the party discussed ideas internally under his two immediate predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, said Ho-fung Hung, a professor of political economy at Johns Hopkins University.

“Right now, you don’t really see a lot of internal party debates about these different policies and there is only one voice there,” he said.


Associated Press writer Kanis Leung in Hong Kong contributed to this report.