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 307.

    Compare and contrast the BBC coverage of the US Election and change in China's ruling communist party. The former had lots of reporters in situ at vast expense including for some ridiculous reason BBC Breakfast. The latter whilst probably just as important, 1 man and his dog. Editorial decisions at the BBC leaving a lot to be desired yet again...

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    I have worked in the Far East before, loved every second of it, still wouldn't want if for the UK. My problem is not with China or even the Chinese government, what they just now is probably the best way for China to develop.

    My problem is people born with democratic rights who look to a dictatorship with rose tinted glasses and praise it to high heaven.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    Democratic deficit indeed. Representative democracy yes. Do we in the West really believe we have a voice?

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    For many chinese, lifestyle is improving. However Hong Kongers and Chinese mainlanders need to get along much friendlier. Tibet needs to have more freedom and autonomy. Chinese should not have their land stolen or bought cheaply. Kidnapping needs to be stopped. Workers need less slave labour. Pollution must be cleaned up, controlled properly. Anticorruption and educating about morals and ethics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    The bottom line is that China will rise or fall on the rise or fall of the West. If the West declines so will China, this is already showing in the decline in the growth rate of the Chinese economy.
    This world is now inextricably interlinked we have world spanning business but not world government. Someone has to come up with a solution to massive population growth and dwindling resources.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.


    Have you been to China? The china people can work any part in China. The government only execute those commit very serious crime such as murder. This is no different from USA. China government only target certain activists. The 99.99% of Chinese people are free to work....etc...... Don't you see million of Chinese tourists free to travel in Europe...USA...etc????

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    Xi Jinping has a huge task ahead of him, not least the contrast between urban and village life, and the slowing of trade caused by reduction in foreign markets. Uncle Hu has given the country an increased freedom and better standard of living - let us hope Xi Jinping can continue to do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    As long as better than N Korea?

    ("Independent": invites "of the world, or of opinion-formers"?)

    paulmerhaba @272 implies indirect election 'less democratic': not so if all 'representative' - as (economically) Equal Partners

    Puddingboy @278 sees democratic deficit here, at least in terms of outcome (perhaps in unemployment, incomes free-for-all, corruption, war-profiteering)

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    290, "The UK has many problems but though election we can fix them. The people of China are reduced to pawns for the Chinese government."

    Atleast they have trust in thier leaders on the economy with a strong central governemnt, what do we have coffee house socialists addicted to weird, wacky and wonderful academic theories that has brought ruin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    287. Nic121
    You have missed the point entirely. I am no apologist for the Chinese regime but the simple fact is, if you compare today with 20 years ago, china has made great strides and the vast majority of the huge population have far more food on the table than before. The system works for the average person (provided they keep their heads down and mouths shut of course).

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    We all like to think that we could run a better government in another country.
    Let's just try and run our government properly first please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    How communism has progressed. The new elite are wheeled out for the masses to bow and scrape to and surprise, surprise they are the privileged sons (no daughters, note!) of the previous generation of revolutionaries. Uniform western suits, though still a couple of years behind Cameron and Blair as they have not ditched their ties yet...

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    250. paulthebadger
    "I would love to see Europe adopt the same political system as China"

    Don't worry mate, it's already here...

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    China like most countries is trying to improve and is making good efforts to keep things stable and peaceful in china and with all other countries which is great. China must not get too greedy now that it is growing which is an easy mistake to make. It should not try to expand it's territory or take over other countries or resources. The island/gas issue with Japan is an example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    "China Communist Party Unveils New Leadership"

    What a coincidence....

    our new leadership just unveiled the Communist party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    You just described a foreign specialist working in China.
    I take it you think they are having a bad time & really like to suffer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    @288. Unashamedly Independent
    I completely agree with you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    To those praising China.

    Would you want it for yourself? To have no vote for government, to be able to be executed, to only work in certain areas of the country, to effectively live your life with someone else controlling every aspect if they so chose?

    The UK has many problems but though election we can fix them. The people of China are reduced to pawns for the Chinese government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    China also profits from copying, slave labour, endless pollution, low currency. If western companies left China and india etc there would be less jobs in China, less people paying tax and buying goods and services in China. The west would not be importing so many goods meaning our trade balance would improve meaning less national debt. The west would have more jobs and more people paying tax etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    China to "have" democracy? Wonder what that is like, we don't seem to have that here.
    Oh, everyone has their own interpretation. Some say democracy in Britain is worse than North Korea, whereas North Koreans would consider Britain a paradigm of democracy. I personally find Britain quite democratic: some things go my way, others don't.


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