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A female Chinese Communist Party delegate, center, held a red voting ticket holder as she left the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Alexander F. Yuan, Associated Press

Xi Jinping

Lee Jin-Man, Associated Press

Hu Jintao

Lee Jin-Man, Associated Press

Xi replaces Hu in China's orderly transfer of power

  • Article by: EDWARD WONG
  • New York Times
  • November 15, 2012 - 12:14 AM

BEIJING - Completing only its second orderly handover 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 from former leader Hu Jintao 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.

On Thursday, after a confirmation vote by the party's new Central Committee, Xi, 59, strode onto a red-carpeted stage at the Great Hall of the People accompanied by 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.

"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.

The other officials on the new committee in order of ranking are: Zhang Dejiang, head of the National People's Congress; Yu Zhengsheng, who will run a similar advisory body; Liu Yunshan, vice president and overseer of the propaganda department; Zhang Gaoli, the executive vice premier, who helps manage the economy; and Wang Qishan, the head of an anti-corruption agency.

The ascension of 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 their status confers.

"I wish to sincerely thank the whole party for the trust you have placed in us," Xi said after walking out in a dark suit and a wine-red tie. "We will try everything we can to live up to your trust and fulfill your mission."

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 past decade under the departing party chief, Hu, despite the country's emergence as the world's second-largest economy and a growing regional power.

Hu, 69, also turned over the post of civilian chairman of the military to Xi. That gives Xi a stronger base from which to consolidate his power, even as he grapples with the continuing influence of party elders.

Hu's abdication of the military chairmanship sets an important institutional precedent for future successions and may put his legacy in a more favorable light. In Chinese politics, retired leaders try to maximize their influence well into old age, either by clinging to titles or by making their opinions known on important decisions.

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