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Introduction

At the top of China's ruling Communist Party sits a nine-man body which decides almost every important matter facing the country, and thereby shapes its future.

All are male, with a average age of 63, and all have spent their lives working for the Party and rising up its ranks.

Click on the names above to read more about the members of the all-important Politburo Standing Committee.

Chinese woman looks at pictures of present and past leaders
 

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