China unveils new leadership with Xi at helm

November 15, 2012 7:23 am
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After striding out in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People as the party’s new general-secretary, succeeding President Hu Jintao, Xi vowed to fight official corruption and build a “better life” for the nation’s 1.3 billion people/AFP
BEIJING, Nov 15, 2012 (AFP) – China’s all-powerful Communist Party on Thursday unveiled a new seven-man leadership council steered by Xi Jinping to take command of the world’s number two economy for the next decade.

After striding out in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People as the party’s new general-secretary, succeeding President Hu Jintao, Xi vowed to fight official corruption and build a “better life” for the nation’s 1.3 billion people.

Xi’s long-expected ascent to the apex of national politics was confirmed when he emerged onto the stage in the hall on Tiananmen Square in front of the rest of the elite Politburo Standing Committee, after a week-long party congress.

Xi, 59, has an impeccable political pedigree as the son of a lieutenant to revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. He will formally replace Hu as state president when the rubber-stamp legislature confirms the appointment in March.

“We are not complacent, and we will never rest on our laurels,” Xi said in his first address to the nation, standing in front of his six colleagues on the new elite committee — all men, who all bar one wore red ties.

The previous committee had nine men, and analysts said the lower number would ease decision-making at the consensus-driven heights of the Communist Party for the next decade as China shapes up to rapid change on a host of fronts.

“Under the new conditions, our 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,” Xi said.

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

Xi’s unqualified standing at the top of China’s opaque power structure was emphasised on Thursday with Hu also handing him control of the Central Military Commission.

Hu’s predecessor Jiang Zemin had clung on to that job, which controls the world’s largest military, for two years after relinquishing the national presidency.

In second place in the new elite line-up was current Vice Premier Li Keqiang, whose promotion puts him in line to be appointed the country’s premier in charge of China’s day-to-day economic administration in March.

The spectacle marked the climax of years of jockeying within the secretive party, which brooks little dissent to its monopoly on political power but which has had to take new account of the public’s demands in the age of social media.

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