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With Xi at helm, China unveils new pro-reform leadership

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BEIJING: Ending months of speculation, China unveiled its top leadership on October 25, with President Xi Jinping emerging as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, and five new members inducted into the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s apex decision-making body.

With the world watching closely, the 64-year-old Xi Jinping presented members of the seven-member PSC to hordes of international and Chinese journalists at the imposing Great Hall of the People.

For Xi Jinping, it’s the crowning moment of his decades-old career as his philosophy christened “Xi Jinping Thought” was enshrined in the party constitution at the end of the week-long National Congress on October 24, elevating him to the pantheon of party legends Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

The new team chosen by Xi Jinping includes seasoned party veterans with extensive experience in governance and managing reforms, which signal the president’s commitment to fast-tracking structural transformation of the economy and curbing corruption in public life.

In his remarks to the press, a confident Xi Jinping underscored the new leadership’s commitment to economic reforms, people-centred development and the centrality of the Communist Party of China in his overarching project of national rejuvenation.

Mr Xi reiterated collective commitment of the Chinese leadership to achieve two centennial targets to achieving a moderately prosperous society by 2021 and a great power by 2049.

The new 204-member Central Committee held its maiden meeting for the first time on October 25, and voted five new members into the Politburo Standing Committee, with only Mr Xi and Premier Li Keqiang retaining their positions.

The five new members of the Politburo Standing Committee include:

Li Zhanshu: The 67-year-old Li heads CPC’s general office and holds Masters in business administration.

Wang Yang: The 62-year-old Wang Yang is one of China’s four vice premiers, and is China’s lead interlocutor in the annual U.S.-China strategic and economic dialogue.

Wang Huning: Director of the policy research office, the 62-year-old Wang Huning served as the secretary of the secretariat at the CPC Central Committee from 2007 to 2012.

Zhao Leji: The 60-year-old Zhao is set to head the Central Inspection Commission, and will replace anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan.

Han Zheng: Known as a financial technocrat, the 63-year-old Han served as the party boss of Shanghai.

Contrary to speculation, Xi protege Chen Miner did not make it to the Politburo Standing Committee.

The new team signifies “comprehensive commitment to economic reforms and substantial commitment to renewing the party,” said Robert Lawrence-Kuhn, a China expert.

 


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