China unveiled the personnel likely to form the bedrock of the fifth generation leadership, as the 17th Communist Party Congress ended in late October.
Xi Jinping, party sectary in Shanghai, and Li Keqiang, who runs Liaoning province, were two of four new faces appointed to the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee. Aged 54 and 52 respectively, Xi and Li are now favorites to succeed President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao in 2012. For now, Xi is expected to head the party secretariat while Li becomes a vice premier.
“Comrades Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are two quite young comrades,” Hu said during the media presentation.
He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang are the other two who join incumbents Hu, Wen, parliamentary chief Wu Bangguo, propaganda boss Li Changchun and Jia Qinglin, head of the party’s political advisory body. He is set to take over the anti-corruption responsibilities of Wu Guanzheng while Zhou assumes Luo Gan’s domestic security brief. Retiring alongside Wu and Zhou is Vice President Zeng Qinghong – all are aged at least 68. The remaining seat opened up following the death of Vice Premier Huang Ju in June.
At the congress, Hu saw his ideology of “scientific development” (economic prosperity with social and environmental considerations) added to the national constitution. This, in addition to the leadership changes, was expected to signal his consolidation of power. But analysts said that 2012’s leadership transition may not be smooth as no one figure commands absolute loyalty.
The 25-member politburo – which, like the standing committee, is chosen from the 204-member party central committee through a closely controlled vote – also saw some important personnel changes. Notably, Vice Premier Wu Yi, the chief trade negotiator, and her counterpart Zeng Peiyan, who oversees infrastructure, both stepped down.