Xi Jinping heads China's new leadership

Nov. 15, 2012 at 1:44 AM
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BEIJING, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Xi Jinping, 59, who heads China's new leadership team, will be aided by the Communist Party's amended constitution highlighting reform and opening up.

In a lengthy article ahead of Thursday's unveiling of the leadership lineup, the official Xinhua News Agency said the just-concluded 18th party congress endorsed the amended party constitution that says reform and opening up highlight "the path to a stronger China" and the "salient feature" of the new period in China.

Analysts said the enhanced consensus on future reforms will pave the way for the new leadership to tackle public concerns essential to China's sustainable development, with one of them describing the amendment "the right move at the right time," Xinhua said.

Besides becoming the head of the powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, Xi, who will succeed outgoing President Hu Jintao, was also given the charge of the Central Military Commission.

Others in the Standing Committee are Li Keqiang, successor to Premier Wen Jiabao, financial expert Wang Qishan, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Zhang Gaoli and Liu Yunshan.

"China's reforms are not impeccable. Some people turn nostalgic or even wish for a stop to reforms. But at this moment, refusing to reforms will only put China on the path to a dead end. Stagnation and going backwards in reforms are no way out," Xin Ming, professor at the Central Committee's Party School, told Xinhua.

Xinhua said many in the country have been upset or perplexed by the country's social ills including "inferior food, yawning wealth gap, environmental woes, corruption, and inequitable access to education, health care and social security."

The report said Chinese Communist leaders feel the reform and opening up brought on by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s are "more like a relay race that must be advanced from one generation to another."

The New York Times said Xi is coming on the scene when China and its 1.3 billion have witnessed a number of scandals and intense party rivalry even with the country's rise as a global power.

During the presentation of the new leadership lineup, Xi said: "I wish to sincerely thank the whole party for the trust you have placed in us. We will try everything we can to live up to your trust and fulfill your mission."

The Times said with China emerging as the world's second-largest economy, critics want Xi to support greater openness in the economic and political systems that were not done by the previous leadership.

The newspaper described Xi as a skilled consensus builder who avoids the spotlight, having suffered during the Cultural Revolution. He is the son of a noted Communist leader.

The report said several of the new leaders will retire at the next party congress, which would allow Xi to get more of his supporters on the team.

"These people around Xi Jinping who advise him and with whom he's close, they do want reform, but on the condition that they maintain the rule of the Communist Party," historian Zhang Lifan told the Times. "They consider the Communist Party and its rule a heritage from their fathers. So they're not willing to risk losing it. They have limitations on how far they want reform to go."

The Washington Post said the leadership transition is not expected to significantly alter China-U.S. relations, although U.S. leaders have been developing ties with Xi, who visited the United States earlier this year.

The Post said military tensions between the two countries may continue with the new U.S. policy concentrating more in the Asia-Pacific region. President Obama is scheduled to visit Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar this month.

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