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China: China leadership transition begins

November 15, 2012

As expected, the Communist Party of China (CPC) appointed Xi Jinping as the new party's general secretary on 15 November, replacing President Hu Jintao. Xi Jinping unexpectedly also became chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) - the de facto top military body - thus broadening his authority before assuming the presidency in March 2013. In addition, the Communist Party elected Li Keqiang to the seven-member Politburo's Standing Committee (PSC) that effectively rules the country. Li Keqiang is slated to assume the Premiership in March, completing the one-in-a-decade political transition in China. According to analysts, China's main political apparatus will remain conservative, with five of the seven PSC members (including anointed President Xi Jinping) being proteges of ex-President Jiang Zemin - commonly known as the Shanghai faction. Li Keqiang, who owns his position to close ties with Hu Jintao is seen as being more open to reforms that many analysts deem to be critical for China. Despite a penchant towards political conservatism, Xi Jinping candidly called on the party to fight corruption, an issue that has moved to more prominence in Chinese politics. In his first public address, Xi Jinping highlighted the "problems among party members and officials of corruption and taking bribes, being out of touch with the people, undue emphasis on formalities and bureaucracy and other issues". Additional announcements at the Party Congress suggest that the new political leadership will put more emphasis on a balanced approach to economic growth, spreading the wealth generated by the country's rapid economic expansion across all spheres of society.


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