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.


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

  • 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

    Comment number 127.

    Your ignorance is amazing. Please explain what Lagarde (I presume you mean Christine Lagarde) has got to do with the EU? The ignorance of Eurosceptics knows no bounds.
    Interesting that the undemocratic Chinese model seems to get things done . Maybe Europe is suffering from too much democracy with national govs, MEPS et al.The USA certainly suffers from a knid of democratic paralysis.

  • Comment number 126.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    While a particular System require both aspects to exit either to bring in a balance or to improve oneself over time;one must not attempt to display Power over the others who don't follow one's ideals.We know once adopted; the Communism cannot be renounced overnight but it can always be refined.Acquiring of knowledge is the Highest Crown,one can wear to demand a position and not its vastness

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    @90 lapin rouge - Maybe 'anoints' is correct. The spelling is right, the context is right, and the FT uses the same word.
    @95 Tony Hannibal - Maybe he's the 14th. leader of China (Xi = 14th. letter of the Greek alphabet).

    All I hope is that the new leader tries to stop China's appalling trade in items that are pushing some species to the edge of extinction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    The key to understanding it is the definition of "corruption". Our western definition differs greatly from Mao's, and that differs from what tends to prevail in China today. Xi Jinping is an enigma, as it is uncertain whether he will choose a more conservative or western definition. That is the hinge that will decide what "progress" means, and what is considered a bettering of human lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Well done China. An orderly transition of power with no conflict. This is a great acheivement for such a diverse and huge country. The Communist Party system works for China at this point in its evolution. The new leaders face huge challenges over the next decade. Good luck to them.
    A great country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    This is the guy who is likely to be in charge when the Chinese economy overtakes the US economy as the worlds largest.

  • Comment number 120.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    @115. tkbhat
    UK is the country with true democracy and zero corruption tolerance.
    True democracy? I believe only 36% of voters wanted the Conservatives

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    100.Chris Lenton

    'but it knows that the continual subjugation of its people is unsustainable. They saw what happened in Europe'

    I'm confused. What happened in Europe and when? Is this some cryptic dig at the EU or are we talking further back?

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    While we adore the new Elected Leader at China,we expect that he shall understand the present situation prevailing in the Globe and refrain from using force either to score over the opponents or to put down turbulent minds of the Common General Public who are passing through the phase in view of our wrong doings everywhere reason-less as well as most intentionally.It must be put to halt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    In China you can be censored and even put in prison for stating the "wrong" opinions on the internet.

    So not a bit like this country then

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    UK is the country with true democracy and zero corruption tolerance. Doubt about rest of the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Looking at China tells me, loud and clear, that Britain is an island paradise.

    Funny how the grass always looks greener from the other side . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    The Communist Party is only communist in name. I travelled through China 8 years ago for holidays and was shocked to see that capitalism was rife and I can only imagine it only got worst.
    The party should improve the social system (perhaps look at Western European countries) or change their name into The Dictatorial Party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    I'm sure Mr Xi will be a fantastic leader, and one who has the best interests of both his own people and the world at large at heart.

    This is my own opinion and I am in no way whatsoever being influenced by this man standing next to me.

    No sir.

    Not at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Nexen is a Canadian company so there is nothing within UK law which would allow the government to intervene.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Does this make Mr Xi the most equal of those who are more equal than the others?

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    @102. Matt

    I've always said that our electoral process & adversarial system of politics is out of date and not fit for purpose. What I'd like to see is a sort of permanent rolling government, whereby people come and go from the Cabinet as & when their competence/talent is required - and they could be politicians, top business leaders etc. The people would vote in the chairperson of the Cabinet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    I pledge my allegiance Xi Jinping and hope that if/when the time come he looks favourably upon me and my family.


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