of Chinese Communist Party
The Washington Post
China on Thursday completed its once-in-a-decade leadership transition, naming, as expected, Xi Jinping, the 59-year-old son of a famed Communist revolutionary general, to the party’s top position, general secretary. He will also take over in March as the country’s president from outgoing leader Hu Jintao.
The transition ends months of internal rivalry, secrecy and speculation, and will determine the country’s future at a time of economic worries, increased regional tensions and widespread clamor for reform.
In a surprise, Hu also relinquished his title as chairman of the Central Military Commission, the body that runs China’s 2.3 million-member army. With Xi now taking over the chairmanship of the military body, China’s transition is now virtually complete, lessening the prospect of a lingering rivalry for influence between the outgoing and incoming leaders.
Xi, in his remarks, said the party’s trust and people’s expectations “are a source of tremendous encouragement for us, and put enormous responsibility on our shoulders.”
“The people’s desire for a better life is what we shall fight for,” Xi said. He said his main job was to “steadfastly take the road of prosperity for all.”
He said the ruling Communist Party would be “proud but not complacent, and we will never rest on our laurels.” He said the party suffered from problems of “corruption, taking bribes, being out of touch with the people, [and] undue emphasis on bureaucracy and formalities.”
What direction Xi and the other new leaders will take is not known. While waiting in the wings for five years, Xi has carefully avoided giving any hint of his priorities, remaining strictly neutral to avoid endangering his status as heir among the party’s competing factions.
Any changes to the system envisioned by Xi are likely to be constrained by several older party leaders considered more conservative in outlook who were named Thursday to the Politburo Standing Committee. The body effectively runs the country and was shrunk from nine to seven seats, ostensibly for faster decision making and greater ease for reaching consensus.
Xi and the other leaders, in look-alike dark suits and most of them wearing red neckties, walked onto a stage at the Great Hall of the People at 11:55 a.m., more than a half-hour later than expected. Xi introduced his new leadership team and spoke for about 10 minutes before they filed off the stage.
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Editor's Note: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss..."
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