The Chinese president keeps a tight grip on his power and does not permit others to speak for him. Foreign officials and scholars have found it difficult to penetrate President Xi’s inner circle and get to know the men who advise him on policy and matters of state. Based on research and interviews by The New York Times, here are some facts about five men who, to varying degrees, give advice to Mr. Xi and are trusted by him — for now.
Wang Qishan, 67, head of the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Politburo Standing Committee member
A fan of “House of Cards,” he has told people that he pays special attention to the role of party whip, according to a Hong Kong magazine. That’s the job of the devious and menacing Frank Underwood character at the start of the show.
As a former finance official, he met often with Henry M. Paulson Jr., the Goldman Sachs chief executive who later became United States Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush. Mr. Paulson wrote that during the 2008 financial crisis, Mr. Wang said: “We aren’t sure we should be learning from you anymore.”
He is married to the daughter of Yao Yilin, a former vice-premier, but does not have children, which some political insiders say gives him fewer vested interests and makes him more immune to corruption.
Li Zhanshu, 65, head of the General Office of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, Politburo member
He drank socially with Xi Jinping when the two were county-level party chiefs in Hebei Province in the 1980s.
He once said in an interview that he abides by a Three-No’s Principle: “No screwing other people, no playing games, no loafing on the job.”
An uncle, Li Zhengtong, died in 1949 fighting as a Communist soldier against the Kuomintang. That took place less a month after the uncle had gotten married. Mr. Li has described his father bringing the uncle’s body back to their village on a cart. In a 2005 essay memorializing his uncle, Mr. Li wrote: “There is an endless yearning that dwells deep in my heart. No matter how time flies, my thoughts for him linger.”
Liu He, 63, head of the Communist Party’s Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, Central Committee member
A fluent English speaker, he has an M.B.A. from Seton Hall University and an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
He was awarded a top economics prize in China for writing a paper in 2012 that compared the 2008 global financial crisis with the Great Depression of the 1930s. He concluded with three lessons for China, including, “Have contingency plans for the worst-case scenarios.”
This summer, as foreign analysts were questioning the stability of China’s economy and its stock market, he told a Hong Kong television station, “There’s no problem; rest assured,” and, “There’s no problem with the stock market, either.”
Wang Huning, 59, head of the Communist Party’s Central Policy Research Office, Politburo member
He spent most of his academic career as a professor in the department of international politics at Fudan University in Shanghai and has been a policy adviser to Presidents Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping.
After a six-month visit to the United States in 1988, he wrote a book, “America Opposes America.” His purpose on the visit was to observe up close the “biggest capitalist country,” he wrote. “People wonder how this nation, with a short history of only 200 years, could become the most developed country in the world.”
Wei Chengsi, a former Shanghai official, wrote that he once asked Mr. Wang why he did not describe himself, a known proponent of strong centralized leadership, as a subscriber to “neo-authoritarianism.” Mr. Wang replied: “Because the Communist Party can only publicly accept one doctrine, and that’s Marxism-Leninism."
Gen. Liu Yuan, 64, political commissar of the Logistics Department of the People’s Liberation Army, Central Committee member
He is the son of Liu Shaoqi, the president of China from 1959 to 1968, who was purged by Mao during the Cultural Revolution and died in 1969 after months of being beaten and tortured.
He had an early career as a civilian official in Henan Province, rising to the post of vice governor, before being transferred to the People’s Liberation Army with the rank of major general.
The most vocal critic of corruption in the military, he was the first to challenge Gen. Gu Junshan and Gen. Xu Caihou, that latter of whom was a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, which oversees the military. Those two generals were later purged by Mr. Xi for corruption.
By EDWARD WONGMia Li and Yufan Huang contributed research.