After nearly a weeklong deliberation, the man set to lead perhaps one the most important countries in the next decade is, confirmation of which came today as Mr. Xi, along with the new members of the Politburo Standing Committee, made his way to the stage at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Mr. Xi replaces current president and Communist party leader Hu Jintao, under whom China rocketed to become a world superpower. This change of guard, done behind closed doors, happens once every 10 years, and the present appointments have been noted to be largely political conservatives, with reformers not being elevated into any position of power.
Also taking the stage along with Mr. Xi were Premier Wen Jiabao’s successor,, and five others, including Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, Shanghai party boss Yu Zhengsheng, propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, Vice Premier and Tianjin party boss Zhang Gaoli, with the Politburo Standing Committee being cut down from nine members to seven.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Xi said, "The people's desire for a better life is what we shall fight for. The party faces many severe challenges, and there are also many pressing problems within the party that need to be resolved, particularly corruption, being divorced from the people, going through formalities and bureaucratism caused by some party officials. We must make every effort to solve these problems. The whole party must stay on full alert."
In an editorial by the China Daily, attention was drawn to the smooth transition, the second time in the party’s 60-year history, in these words: “The ostensible lack of drama throughout the week-long session may disappoint sensation seekers. But the confidence in continuity, instead of revolutionary ideas and dramatic approaches, means a better tomorrow is attainable.”
Although the decision to appoint Mr. Xi and the other members of the Standing Committee was made on Thursday, the succession, according to pundits, was in fact made in advance, as not only is Mr. Xi the son of one of the founding members of the Chinese Communist Party, but had also served in a number of high-profile positions and was the protégé Jiang Zemin. The 59-year-old is known for having a zero tolerance attitude toward corruption. Mr. Xi is equally well-known for his politics as well as his celebrity wife, actress and folk singer Peng Liyuan.
His acceptance speech today has been hailed for its candor, with Chinese journalist Gong Xiaoyue saying, “This big boss at least is talking like a human being. I won't comment on the rest."
Of course, Mr. Xi inherits a China that is an economic giant, but has become a little unwieldy and recent cases of high-level of corruption, such as the Bo Xilai scandal, have drawn attention to the otherwise demure Communist Party.