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.

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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
    0

    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
    +3

    Comment number 254.

    Imagine that UK had 1.3 billion people and income per head was just 1/20 of current level, under our democratic system, would we have less social problems than China has now? I would say NO, we would have a million times more! So do not take for granted that our system is superior. I think China is doing well. I wish the country all the best.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 241.

    I wish the new leadership and the people of China well fo the next 10yr cycle. I think they're going to face some serious challenges, both internal and external.
    Its a shame they didn't bring forward the reformers to help manage that challenge but i'll watch with interest how they cope.
    Hopefully they'll ease off the repression - 1 in 5 people live in China so hopefully they'll sort things out.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 232.

    For al its rhetoric, I don't think the party is in any way putting the peoples' interests first. A country without free speech and censorship of the internet has a lot to hide.

  • 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.

 

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