China: Xi takes over as military chief

China's new leader Xi Jinping Saturday formally took over as the military chief, presiding over the first meeting of the powerful 11-member Military Commission, the highest body of the country's defence command structure.

Xi, 59, was chosen as the new General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and also appointed as the Chairman of the Military Commission on Thursday at the end of the 18th Party Congress.

The 11-member Commission previously had both the outgoing President Hu Jintao and Xi as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively.

Under the new set up, Xi would be the lone civilian member, heading the Commission while the rest of the 10 members were drawn from the army, Navy and Air Force of the 2.3 million strong People's Liberation Army.

Observers say there was no likelihood of any civilian leader to be inducted into the Commission, unlike in the previous set up, which makes Xi the most powerful Chinese leaders in the recent years as he holds the post of General Secretary of the party, Chief of the Military and will also takeover as the President of the country.

He would take over as the President in March when Hu and the rest of his government formally relinquish their posts and hand over power to the new team headed by Xi.

The first meeting of the new military command that took place here today was also was also attended by Hu.

Both Hu and Xi urged the Chinese army under the CPC's command to be absolutely loyal and accomplish historic missions, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

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