It could a sign of the global power struggle to come. China’s leader Xi Jinping has pushed out Russia’s Vladimir Putin from top spot in the latest list of the world’s most powerful people.
In a further sign of changing times, the annual survey by Forbes magazine sees US President Donald Trump slump to third.
Among the newcomers, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia makes the top ten in eighth place, and at 32 is also the youngest.
With 75 names on the list, the President, Sheikh Khalifa, retains his place at 43rd, two places ahead of Egypt’s President el-Sisi.
Inclusion on the list is decided by a complex equation which includes military might, economic resources, and an individual’s power to influence others.
Pope Francis, whose army consists of Vatican guards armed with halberds, and lives in the world’s smallest country, nevertheless guides the spiritual needs of 1.3 billion members of the Roman Catholic Church, and sits in sixth place.
From outside the world of politics, fifth placed Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, outranks Microsoft’s Bill Gates in seventh.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor is fourth and the highest placed woman in a list still dominated by men. Other powerful females include the British prime minister Theresa May, who sits in 14th place despite her struggles with Brexit, and Christine Legard of the International Monetary Fund at 22nd.
One individual whose place on the next list must be doubtful is Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of the rapidly diminishing Islamic State. As the hunted leader of a terrorist organisation, he will be lucky to see 2019, let alone retain his place as 73rd in the ranks of the world’s most powerful.
For the moment, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei and President Bashar Al Assad remain on the list, respectively 17 and 62.
Other notable members of the power club include Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of North Korea, in 36th place, Tesla chief Elon Musk in 25th and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in ninth.
At the age of 89, Hong Kong businessman Li Ka-shing is the oldest, and with a fortune of US$34 billion, one of the wealthiest.
For the 2018 list there are 17 new names, including President Macron of France and Reed Hastings of Netflix.
Forbes does not name the 17 unfortunates who have slipped from the ranks of the powerful, but only 15 individuals can claim to have been present since the first list was issued in 2009.
As of 2018 they do not include President Obama, or Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil and who must have hoped to retain his place after being appointed US Secretary of State in early 2017 – until President Trump fired him in March.