Chinese President Xi Jinping calls for renaissance

 

Xi Jinping: "I will be true to the responsibility given to me"

The new Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has said he will fight for "the great renaissance of the Chinese nation," in his first speech as head of state.

Closing the annual National People's Congress, he urged delegates to reject extravagance and fight corruption.

At a news conference later, new Premier Li Keqiang said sustainable economic growth would remain the top priority.

The comments come as the Communist government completed a once-in-a-decade leadership transition.

Analysis

So far there haven't been any significant deviations from their respective predecessors in the speeches made by China's new President Xi Jinping and new Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Mr Xi reiterated his ambition for China's rejuvenation - the "China dream" he mentioned after becoming Communist Party chief last November. Mr Li focused on the challenges of economic development and social inequality, echoing his predecessor Wen Jiabao 10 years ago.

But the styles are different. Both men avoided the slogans that characterised Hu Jintao's addresses. Mr Xi has used plain language in his comments about corruption, saying officials need iron-hard resolve to tackle the problem. Unlike Mr Wen, Mr Li has steered away from quoting ancient poetry, emphasising the need for action rather than words.

Both men's speeches are designed to give a sense of optimism to the people. But their words will fade quickly. They need to take action because many Chinese are already wondering if their new leaders will be any different.

President Xi's address was a patriotic speech urging greater national unity, the BBC's Martin Patience reports from Beijing.

Its nationalistic tone will reinforce the view that he will pursue a more assertive foreign policy during his decade in power, our correspondent says.

President Xi issued a warning to China's military, saying it should improve its ability to "win battles and... protect national sovereignty and security".

He also stressed that continued economic development was essential, urging the nation to achieve what he called "China's dream".

'Vested interests'

The same themes were taken up at a rare news conference by new premier Li Keqiang, who has taken over the the day-to-day running of the country, succeeding Wen Jiabao.

He addressed the growing inequality gap and public anger at corruption, promising to reform the central government, cut "extravagance" and shake-up "vested interests".

Spending on the government payroll, overseas trips and new offices would be cut while funding for social services would increase, he said.

"A clean government should start with oneself, "Mr Li asserted.

Li Keqiang

  • Seen as one of the more reform-minded members of the new leadership
  • Started out as a manual labourer on a rural commune
  • Studied law at Peking University, where he became involved in student politics
  • Widely speculated that Mr Li was former President Hu Jintao's preferred successor, but lost the top job to Xi Jinping

Li Keqiang was elected for a five-year term but, like his predecessor, would be expected to spend a decade in office.

On foreign policy, Mr Li stressed on the importance of further developing relations with the US, saying that "common interests far outweigh our differences".

He described as "groundless" US accusations that China was behind recent cyber-attacks on American government agencies and companies.

On Saturday, the People's Congress approved a number of new ministerial appointments, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Finance Minister Lou Jiwei.

The four vice-premiers are Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yandong, Wang Yang and Ma Kai - all veteran Communist Party officials.

 

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  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 58.

    All this is very interesting - but the Chinese are going to do what any other nation / government would do; act in their own best interests.

    Undoubtedly, this will bring them into conflict with other nation states. Clearly, they are smart enough to realise this.

    So, any amount of criticism / opinion from anyone else - but particularly from privileged westerners - isn't going to move them at all.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 57.

    Gov't style A. Always have a surplus, lead your country in one direction, do what is best for National interests, try you best to support Gov't style B who are hopelessly in debt, out of control and swaying between "democratically" elected parties who try to reverse stuff done by the opposition.
    I have lived in China for 19 years - and if the West had studied more carefully .... Mmmm just think !

  • rate this
    +25

    Comment number 35.

    As a Chinese student who has been studied here for half of year, it is funny to see the comments here. I always wonder one thing: how could you people judge China without taking its rough development path into consideration? More precisely, how could a nation turn directly to so-called civil society if the majority is still not rich enough to have time and mood to take care politic issues?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 26.

    The decision that China makes does not affect China only, but the rest of the world. China is a superpower now and they should act accordingly. Obviously, they will face opposition from bitter west who are not happy with China being a superpower. They are going to continue their sour grape policy and throw every dirt at China but China should rise above it.

 
 

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