China new leaders: Xi Jinping heads line-up for politburo

 

The BBC's Martin Patience says the new leaders face immense challenges

Xi Jinping has been confirmed as the man to lead China for the next decade.

Mr Xi led the new Politburo Standing Committee onto the stage at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, signalling his elevation to the top of China's ruling Communist Party.

The party faced great challenges but would work to meet "expectations of both history and the people", he said.

Most of the new committee are seen as politically conservative, and perceived reformers did not get promotion.

Xi Jinping replaces Hu Jintao, under whose administration China has seen a decade of extraordinary growth.

Analysis

The new faces contain no surprises - as all of them are from the list of favourite names widely mentioned by the media.

The new line-up shows that 86-year old former leader Jiang Zemin still has important influence, because at least four out of seven new members are widely seen as his allies.

Meanwhile the outgoing leader Hu Jintao's three allies - Li Yuanchao, Liu Yuandong and Wang Yang - did not make it into the Standing Committee.

Mr Hu has also given up his post as the chairman of the Central Military Commission, indicating he will fully retire from his political posts and stay away from political life too.

The prospect of political reform now looks more unlikely as most of the new leaders are regarded as political conservatives.

The move marks the official passing of power from one generation to the next.

'Pressing problems'

Mr Xi was followed out onto the stage by Li Keqiang, the man set to succeed Premier Wen Jiabao, and five other men - meaning that the size of the all-powerful Standing Committee had been reduced from nine to seven.

Those five, in order of seniority, were Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang, Shanghai party boss Yu Zhengsheng, propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and Tianjin party boss Zhang Gaoli.

The new leaders had great responsibilities, Mr Xi said, but their mission was to be united, and to lead the party and the people to make the Chinese nation stronger and more powerful.

"The people's desire for a better life is what we shall fight for," he said.

Corruption had to be addressed, he said, and better party discipline was needed.

Start Quote

The important thing is whether they can lead the country in a good direction; whether they can reduce corruption and incompetence”

End Quote Qian Ah Jie Amitabha Netizen

"The party faces many severe challenges, and there are also many pressing problems within the party that need to be resolved, particularly corruption, being divorced from the people, going through formalities and bureaucratism caused by some party officials," Mr Xi said.

"We must make every effort to solve these problems. The whole party must stay on full alert."

'Confidence in continuity'

The new Standing Committee was endorsed in a vote early on Thursday by the new party Central Committee, but in reality the decisions had been made in advance.

The new leaders will gradually take over in the next few months, with Hu Jintao's presidency formally coming to an end at the annual parliament session in March 2013.

Xi Jinping

  • Born in Beijing in 1953, father was Xi Zhongxun, a founding member of the Communist Party
  • Sent to work at a remote village for seven years when he was 15
  • Studied chemical engineering at Tsinghua University and spent time at a US farm in 1985
  • Was Shanghai party chief in 2007 and became vice-president in 2008
  • Seen as having a zero-tolerance attitude towards corrupt officials
  • Married to well-known Chinese folk singer and actress Peng Liyuan with whom he has a daughter

Mr Xi has also been named chairman of the Central Military Commission, a Xinhua news agency report said, ending uncertainty over whether that post would be transferred from Hu Jintao immediately.

Mr Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, held on to the post for two years after he stood down from the party leadership.

New Standing Committee member Wang Qishan has also been named head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection - the party's anti-corruption watchdog.

Mr Xi, a former Shanghai party chief, was appointed to the politburo in 2007.

A "princeling" - a relative of one of China's revolutionary elders - he has spent almost four decades in the Communist Party, serving in top posts in both Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, as well as Shanghai.

His speech drew praise online, with a number of netizens liking his more informal style.

"This big boss at least is talking like a human being. I won't comment on the rest," well-known Chinese journalist Gong Xiaoyue said via micro-blog.

Mr Xi, 59, is said to be a protégé of Jiang Zemin, while Li Keqiang is said to have been Mr Hu's preferred successor.

Mr Hu has been the Communist Party chief since he led the Standing Committee line-up out on stage in November 2002.

Party numbers

Leaders
  • Ruled China since 1949
  • 83m members in 2011
  • 77% of members are men
  • Farmers make up one third of membership
  • 6.8m members work for the Party and state agencies
  • Funded by government grant and membership dues
  • Private businessmen allowed to join since 2001

Under his administration China has seen a decade of rapid development, overtaking Japan as the world's second-largest economy.

But the development has been uneven, leading to a widening wealth gap, environmental challenges and rumbling social discontent over inequality and corruption.

Analysts say there has been division at the very top of the leadership in the lead-up to the party congress, with two rival factions jostling for position and influence.

The transition process has also been complicated by the scandal that engulfed Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai - a powerful high-flier once seen as a strong contender for the top leadership. His wife has been jailed for murdering a British businessman and he looks set to face trial on a raft of corruption-related charges.

That notwithstanding, the power transition process has been orderly, for only the second time in 60 years of Communist Party rule.

"The ostensible lack of drama throughout the week-long session may disappoint sensation seekers," China Daily said in an editorial on Thursday before the new Standing Committee line-up was announced.

"But the confidence in continuity, instead of revolutionary ideas and dramatic approaches, means a better tomorrow is attainable."

 

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  • rate this
    +18

    Comment number 87.

    China is not democratic, but technocratic. Virtually all senior politicians there have a higher education in a technical discipline and most have experience running provinces the size of major West European countries. Their track record is successful. They are moving slowly towards more rights and the rule of law and will probably get there at about the level of development of other countries.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 86.

    46.Matt

    1 Hour ago

    @42 You are being completely ridiculous. You cannot compare a broad, Liberal Democratic alliance to a one party Communist state.

    Yes, you can compare. Did you directly elect Barroso, Lagarde and all that other EU gang? No!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 85.

    A government that dictates to it's people. A government that doesn't listen to public opinion and Ignores the financial struggles of it's people? China? no UK!

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 84.

    Good luck to them. I have visited China many times and am amazed at their progress. It is a very capitalist and right-wing country. And guess what, no problems with immigration, family breakdown, high taxes or unemployment. The west needs to stop criticising China and start to learn from their magic.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 83.

    China is overrated. The so called economic boom is wholly dependant on being able to sell cheaply made products to the west. Without political reform it will be a country with empty concrete shopping malls and skyscrapers and poverty ridden people in the countryside.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 82.

    Article states "... two rival factions jostling for position and influence" It might have been helpful to describe the opposing views of these two factions. It was apparent that Li (proxy for Hu Jintao and Xi (proxy for Zhang Jemin are the opposing leaders with the Zhang faction winning control of the standing committee. But other than describing Zhang's group as more conservative no other insight

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 80.

    @22.Trout Mask Replica
    China has to submit to the "dicates of the EU" so it can trade with it (and us). Unlike us, China has no say in setting those "dicates" which...

    OH PLEASE, TROUT! Get out of bed with the dreadful EU - everyone else is starting to. We HAVE to trade with China if we want cheap goods - the EU are not pulling the strings.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 79.

    And yet, despite all this whingeing, China has raised millions of its people out of poverty and is enjoying an economic boom. And the "democratic" West?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 78.

    75. Gerry

    "I wonder if years from now half of these members will be implicated in the Tiananmen Square massacre and other attrocities"

    You know what I wonder? Years from will half of the current British public be implicated in the Iraq massacres and other atrocities. You talk big but you have the biggest war criminals on your own doorstep.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 77.

    If u think talking ill about gov will get you killed in China, u r a gd example of how one can survive without knowing much of the outside world. Most chinese folks don't care about much other than their own pocket/country, therefore the gov is perfect for them, it offers growth & stability.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 76.

    Meet the new boss...

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 75.

    The figure head does not rule China, it is run by committee. I wonder if years from now half of these members will be implicated in the Tiananmen Square massacre and other attrocities.

    Now that the Chinese people have tasted capitalism it will be impossible to put the lid back on the box

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 74.

    So.... Lets summarise; he's unelected, and unknown to most of the population, and with a privileged lifestyle that most people don't have. He will be taking draconian steps without consulting his people, most of which will benefit the few rich and powerful. And the citizens will be paying for all this. Sound familiar?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 73.

    Nice to see democracy in action.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 72.

    I think china will go well and I believe the new leaders will not disappoint the people in china.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 70.

    Judging by the video the new leaders may not have gone to a British public school but they have certainly adopted their wearing of a uniform ethos.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 69.

    I love how so many (presumably British) commenters here are complaining about the British system while praising the Chinese one. At least in Britain you get to complain about the government without fear of retribution. That's a freedom I'll be hanging on to for quite a while.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 68.

    as a Chinese.I want to walk outside of China and know more about the world we live in

 

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