China might be a one-party system, but like any other political power struggle, various factions work to usher supporters in and kick rivals out. Important considerations include the individual's relationship with Xi, the power of their patrons, seniority of current ranking, their age, experience and qualifications.
Also, little of this process is governed by law. For instance, there's no requirement that the number on the standing committee must stay at the current seven, and the informal retirement age of 68 may be waived. "That's absolutely possible," said Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese politics at King's College London. "There are no institutional restraints to that happening ... the party can do what it likes."
Here's a look at a few candidates who experts say might be up for promotion into the standing committee:
Li Zhanshu: Director of the general office of the Communist Party; often called Xi's right-hand man
Zhao Leji: Head of department of organization, which prescreens candidates and compiles short lists for key government posts. Prior to Zhao, five out of the eight people who had this job made it into the standing committee
Wang Huning: Head of China's central policy research office; thought to be close to Xi and an architect of major policy initiatives; said to be behind "Chinese Dream" campaign; specialist in U.S. politics
Hu Chunhua: Party secretary of Guangdong; in his mid-50s and the youngest of the bunch; regarded as a rising star
Han Zheng: Party secretary of Shanghai; that's a position often tipped for promotion
Wang Qishan: China's current anti-corruption czar and a close ally of Xi; believed to have significant clout; already on the standing committee and is of retirement age, but there's speculation he could see another term
Wang Yang: Third-ranked vice premier of State Council, which is part of the executive branch; two-term Politburo member and due to rise
Liu Qibao: Head of the propaganda department, a very powerful division; that's traditionally a position that gets promoted
And here are some people of interest who have a shot at the top, but are more likely to head for the wider 25-member Politburo:
Liu He: Vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission; oversees the Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs; economist by training and top economic advisor to Xi
Chen Min'er: Party secretary of Chongqing; recently named to new post after a potential Xi successor was ousted; previously worked under Xi when he was Zhejiang party leader