China unveils new leadership headed by Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping

Edward Wong

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 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, 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 line-up was announced by Xinhua, the state news agency.

"We have every reason to be proud — proud, but not complacent," said 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 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.

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