|Seven men tightly controlling 1.4 billion Chinese.|
Politburo members have never faced competitive election, making it to the top thanks to their patrons, abilities and survival instincts in a political culture where saying the wrong thing can lead to a life under house-arrest, or worse.
Formally, their power stems from their positions in the politburo. But in China, personal relations count much more than job titles. A leader's influence rests on the loyalties he or she builds with superiors and proteges, often over decades. That was how Deng Xiaoping remained paramount leader long after resigning all official posts, and it explains why party elders sometimes play a key role in big decisions.