As Director of the CCP General Secretary Office, Ding Xuexiang follows wherever Xi Jinping leads. Considered one of Xi’s most loyal and trusted aides, Ding may now earn a place on the Chinese Communist Party’s seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. Having turned 60 in September, Ding is young enough to serve two five-year terms on the CCP’s most powerful body, so well into the early 2030s. The move would reinforce Xi’s authority and ensure that his agenda will be carried out over the next decade.
Ding is essentially Xi’s chief of staff. Unlike other top cadres, he has never run a municipality or province. Having joined the CCP in 1984, his political career has mainly involved rising through its ranks. His understanding of its inner workings has won him the trust of China’s most powerful man – although his low-key pragmatism and hard work will have helped, too. A staunch loyalist, Ding has been happy to disseminate Xi’s ideas, reiterating the pledge to propel China into a “new ear” under Xi Jinping Thought.
The Jiangsu native began his career as a researcher at the Shanghai Research Institute of Materials, before pivoting to party positions in propaganda, organization and security in Shanghai. It was here that Ding started working for Xi after the latter had become the city’s Party Secretary. Ding’s career has been closely tied to Xi’s ever since. After Xi assumed power in 2012, Ding was made his personal secretary, accompanying Xi to every important domestic and international meeting. Ding also sits the National Security Commission, which controls China’s security apparatus and is chaired by Xi.