Don't expect dramatic change from China's new leaders

Xi Jinping

China's ruling Communist Party unveiled its new top leadership team on Thursday, another all-male cast of politicians whose instincts are to move cautiously on reform.

Xi Jinping took the helm of the party, heading a team of seven members in the new Politburo Standing Committee, the peak decision-making body which will steer the world's second-largest economy for the next five years.

Following are short biographies of the leaders, including their reform credentials and possible portfolio responsibilities.

XI JINPING

REFORM CREDENTIALS: Considered a cautious reformer, having spent time in top positions in the coastal Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, both at the forefront of China's economic reforms.

Xi Jinping, 59, is China's vice president and President Hu Jintao's anointed successor. He will take over as head of state in March at the annual meeting of parliament.

Xi belongs to the party's princeling generation, the offspring of communist revolutionaries. His father, former vice premier Xi Zhongxun, fought alongside Mao Zedong in the Chinese civil war. Xi watched his father purged and later, during the Cultural Revolution, spent years in the hardscrabble countryside before making his way to university and then to power.

Married to a famous singer, Xi has crafted a low-key and sometimes blunt political style. He has complained that officials' speeches and writings are clogged with party jargon and has demanded more plain speaking.

Xi went to work in the poor northwest Chinese countryside as a sent-down youth during the chaos of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, and became a rural commune official. He went on to study chemical engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing and later gained a degree in Marxist theory from Tsinghua and a doctorate in law.

A native of the poor, inland province of Shaanxi, Xi was promoted to governor of southeastern Fujian province in 1999 and became party boss in neighbouring Zhejiang province in 2003.

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