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

Xi Jinping

In 2007, the tall, portly Xi secured the top job in China's commercial capital, Shanghai, when his predecessor was caught up in a huge corruption case. Later that year he was promoted to the party's standing committee.

LI KEQIANG

REFORM CREDENTIALS: Seen as another cautious reformer due to his relatively liberal university experiences.

Vice Premier Li Keqiang, 57, is the man tipped to be China's next premier, taking over from Wen Jiabao, also in March.

His ascent will mark an extraordinary rise for a man who as a youth was sent to toil in the countryside during Mao's Cultural Revolution.

He was born in Anhui province in 1955, son of a local rural official. Li worked on a commune that was one of the first places to quietly revive private bonuses in farming in the late 1970s. By the time he left Anhui, Li was a party member and secretary of his production brigade.

He studied law at the elite Peking University, which was among the first Chinese schools to resume teaching law after the Cultural Revolution. He worked to master English and co-translated The Due Process of Law by Lord Denning, the famed English jurist.

In 1980, Li, then in the official student union, endorsed controversial campus elections. Party conservatives were aghast, but Li, already a prudent political player, stayed out of the controversial vote.

He climbed the party ranks and in 1983 joined the Communist Youth League's central secretariat, headed then by Hu Jintao.

Li later served in challenging party chief posts in Liaoning, a frigid northeastern rustbelt province, and rural Henan province, where he was accused by activists of cracking down on them after an AIDS scandal. He was named to the powerful nine-member standing committee in 2007.

ZHANG DEJIANG

REFORM CREDENTIALS: A conservative trained in North Korea.

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