Chinese president Hu Jintao steps aside as leader to clear the way for the vice president, Xi Jinping, to take over in the second orderly transfer of power in 63 years of Communist rule.
Xi all set to take over power in China
BEIJING // The Chinese president, Hu Jintao, stepped aside as ruling party leader yesterday to clear the way for the vice president, Xi Jinping, to take over as part of only the second orderly transfer of power in 63 years of Communist rule.
In a break from tradition, Mr Hu may also be giving up his post as head of the commission that oversees the military, which would give Mr Xi greater leeway to consolidate his authority when he takes over.
Mr Hu and other senior leaders, mostly in their late 60s, are handing over power to Mr Xi and other colleagues in their late 50s over the next several months. The new leadership faces daunting challenges including slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy, rising unrest among citizens and delicate relations with neighbouring countries.
Mr Hu was not re-elected a member of the party's central committee on the final day of the party congress, showing that he is no longer in the political leadership.
Delegates said they cheered when the announced results of secret balloting showed that Mr Xi had been unanimously chosen for the committee, a step towards being raised to the Politburo Standing Committee, becoming party leader as expected today. Li Keqiang, designated as the next premier, also was elected to the central committee of 205 full members.
"We were very happy, and the whole assembly responded with warm applause," said delegate Si Zefu, the president of the Dongfang Electric Corp, based in the central city of Chengdu.
Previous departing leaders, including the former president Jiang Zemin, have held on to the military post for a transitional period to extend their grip on power.
Zhang Lifan, an independent scholar in Beijing, said relinquishing all posts would be Mr Hu's contribution to China's political reform. "It will be an important political legacy, as he will break the bad tradition of holding on to power by outgoing officials," he said.
Later, Mr Hu reminded party leaders of the "glorious mission and heavy responsibilities" entrusted to them. "We must strive to be role models, bring out our best in working for the cause of the party and the country," he said. Mr Hu later picked up some papers, shook hands with people in the row behind him and walked off the stage.
The party's 2,300 delegates also rubber-stamped the report Mr Hu delivered last week committing the party to continuing a pro-economic growth agenda while retaining firm political control. He urged stronger measures to rein in corruption and make the government more responsive to public demands, but offered little in the way of specifics.
The next lineup of China's most powerful body, the Politburo Standing Committee, will be announced on Thursday.
The congress votes are "fully democratic" but "there is a degree of inevitability", the actor and party delegate, Song Guofeng, of Liaoning province said yesterday.
"We need to have continuity in leadership to carry on. They are already in the leadership core. The stability of the party and of the country is important."