China’s Xi signals a new political style

In his first address to China and the world, the new general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping adopted a frank and practical tone that is likely to go down well at home and abroad.

Unlike his predecessor, Hu Jintao, who was wooden and formal in public settings, Xi, the son of a famous revolutionary communist, was quite at ease as he arrived at the Great Hall of People after his selection as the new General Secretary at the end of the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.

Xi introduced his six colleagues from the all-powerful seven member standing committee of the politburo of the CCP. He even offered an apology for starting late, quite unusual for China's modern emperors.

Dressed in dark suits, the seven men are now perched at the very top of the political heap in China. They will be responsible for steering the ship of the party-state for the next five years.

Xi broke from custom to make a lengthy speech at the press conference. Read in translation, the speech seemed designed to convey a new political style and an eagerness to connect and communicate with the Chinese people and international audiences.

Xi avoided the usual jargon of communist party apparatchiks. The contrast with Hu's speech ten years ago when he was installed at the top of the CCP, could not have been starker.

Unlike Hu who paid verbal obeisance to Marxism-Leninism, Mao  Zedong Thought, and Deng Xiaoping theory, Xi shunned the old mantra and invoked no deities.

But there was no real softening of the message. Nor was there any promise of undeliverable political reforms.

Xi recalled the CCP's contributions to the modernization of China and its continuing centrality in the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics. At the same time, Xi was frank enough to admit the problems facing the party and offer to make amends.

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