As the 20th National Congress of China is coming, it is also the time for high-ranking officials and diplomats to retire.

In 2002, former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin set the age for party officials to retire: 68 for top leaders and 65 for senior-level officials.

In 2007, at the Chinese 17th National Congress, former vice president Zeng Qinghong was also 68 years old and suddenly found out that he had to retire. 

Now, Xi Jinping can find himself in a dilemma as two key officials in the diplomatic arena are at retirement age: the director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office and former Chinese ambassador to the United States Yang Jiechi, and the Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. 

According to Apollo.com columnist Wang Duran, Yang Jiechi is a powerful member of the Jiang Zemin faction. Thus, Xi Jinping promoted Wang Yi and established a dual-head structure in the diplomatic area to look at Yang Jiechi and take hold of power smoothly.

There was no significant systematic purge in diplomacy following the election of Xi Jinping. Xi did not, in reality, control the diplomatic structure at the time. 

Wang Yi will likely remain in office since Xi has no one to promote in this situation. So, if Wang Yi stayed in office, Xi Jinping would break the rules set by Jiang Zemin.

Yang Jiechi, born in 1950, was predicted by Hong Kong’s “Ming Pao” to retire at the 20th National Congress but Wang Yi, born three years later, had the option to advance or recede.

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