Xi Jinping completes 100 days in power, emerges as powerful leader

Xi Jinping
Swiftly consolidating his hold on the ruling Communist Party and the military after the once-in- a-decade smooth power transition, China's new leader Xi Jinping completes 100 days in power, emerging as a more powerful leader than his predecessor Hu Jintao.

Xi, 59, would be taking over the all powerful Presidency early next month from Hu to become the first leader in a decade to hold all the three posts of party leader, military chief and the President to start with.

Xi, who was elected as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China on November 15 last year, will complete 100 days tomorrow. While the outgoing President Hu had to deal with the backroom manoeuvres of his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, who retained the post of military chief even after relinquishing post of party General Secretary and President, Xi has a head start with all the three posts with him.

Touted as the most orderly transition, Xi, firmed up holdon the Party by appointing his confidants as Chiefs of provinces and key party posts.He also took firm control of the 2.3 million strong People's Liberation Army (PLA), the world's largest standing military, by visiting all the important commands.

Xi's ascendancy to Presidency next month will enable him to revamp the administration from top to bottom, which for the last six months was on a drift awaiting power transformation at various levels as old guard was set to retire.

He along with number two leader, Li Keqiang, the new Premier-designate succeeding Wen Jiabao will be forming a new cabinet after they take over the posts during the annual session of National People's Congress (NPC), which is expected to begin on March 3.

The new cabinet would have to deal with serious challenges of China's growing border disputes with a host of neighbours especially with powerful Japan over the disputed islands as well as flaring up disputes over South China Sea and dwindling economic growth.

Tibet too is simmering with protests as self-immolations crossed the 100 mark, highlighting the alienation of the Tibetan community.

One hundred days after the election of the new leaders of the Party, "changes have been seen, though there are still tests and expectations ahead", state-run Xinhua news agency said in a lengthy commentary eulogising the new leadership initiatives to bring about austerity and campaign against corruption.

"Despite a widely acknowledged good start, there are challenges and expectations ahead", it said. China's growth rate fell to 13-year low of 7.8 per cent last year from 9.3 percent in 2011. Besides falling profits of Chinese firms, China's dependence on imported petroleum broke records, it said, adding that "an unreasonable economic structure is emerging as a prominent problem which hinders China's future development".

"With cities around the country choking in air pollution, China is also encountering increasing ecological and environmental problems", the commentary said. "Widening income disparities, corruption, abuses of power, food safety scandals keep triggering public outcries", were other challenges for the new leadership, it said.

Issues concerning the disputes with Japan, nuclear tests by North Korea and tensions in Sino-US ties also test the new leaders' wisdom in diplomacy, the commentary said.Xin Ming, a professor at the Party School of the Communist Party Central Committee, said he hopes the new leadership can make all their decisions based on such basic conditions and the country's real situation in the future.

Huang Weiting, a research fellow with "Seeking Truth," the official magazine of the Party Central Committee, said the public now have very high expectations of their prospects.

"For some obstinate problems, the new leaders should be prepared for a prolonged battle to tackle them step by step," he warned.

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