China Names New Leadership
The run-up to this years Chinese Communist Party Congress was bumpy thanks to a scandal that brought down a prominent rising star, but the denouement ended up going off fairly smoothly:
BEIJING — Completing only its second orderly hand-over of power in more than six decades of rule, the Chinese Communist Party on Thursday unveiled a new leadership slate headed by Xi Jinping, the son of a revered revolutionary leader and economic reformer, who will face the task of guiding China to a more sustainable model of growth and managing the country’s rise as a global power.
For this nation of 1.3 billion, the transition culminates a tumultuous period plagued by scandals and intense political rivalry that presented the party with some of its greatest challenges since the student uprising of 1989. Minutes before noon on Thursday, after a confirmation vote by the party’s new Central Committee, Mr. Xi, 59, strode onto a red-carpeted stage at the Great Hall of the People accompanied by six other party officials who will form the new Politburo Standing Committee, the elite group that makes crucial decisions on the economy, foreign policy and other major issues. Before their appearance, the new lineup was announced by Xinhua, the state news agency.
“We have every reason to be proud — proud, but not complacent,” said Mr. Xi, looking relaxed in a dark suit and a wine-red tie. “Inside the party, there are many problems that need be addressed, especially 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.” He added, “To forge iron, one must be strong.”
The ascension of Mr. Xi and other members of the “red nobility” to the top posts means that the so-called princelings have come into their own as a prominent political force. Because of their parentage, they believe themselves to be the heirs of the revolution that succeeded in 1949, endowed with the mandate of authority that that status confers.
“I think the emphasis is on continuity over change this time around,” said Bo Zhiyue, a scholar of Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore.
Mr. Xi is facing a growing chorus of calls from Chinese elites to support greater openness in China’s economic and political systems, which critics say have stagnated in the last decade under the departing party chief, Hu Jintao, despite the country’s emergence as the world’s second-largest economy and a growing regional power.
Mr. Hu, 69, also turned over the post of civilian chairman of the military on Thursday to Mr. Xi, which made this transition the first time since the promotion of the ill-fated Hua Guofeng in 1976 that a Chinese leader had taken office as head of the party and the military at the same time. That gives Mr. Xi a stronger base from which to consolidate his power, even as he grapples with the continuing influence of party elders.
The unveiling came the day after the weeklong 18th Party Congress ended as Mr. Hu made his final appearance as party chief at a closing ceremony and seven standing committee members stepped down.
This being China, we can likely expect general stability in policy for the most part, but there have been many, including former Ambassador Huntsman, who have noted that the new generation taking power with the Congress is different in many ways from those that preceded it and that we may face a more assertive China in the near future.