By Ben Blanchard and Sui-Lee Wee
BEIJING Nov 14 China's Communist Party congress
offered the first clues on a generational leadership change on
Wednesday as X i Jinping and Li Keqiang took the first step to
the presidency and premiership, respectively.
In a brief dispatch, Xinhua news agency said Vice President
Xi and Vice Premier Li had both been elected to the party's
Central Committee at the end of a key congress, though that
result was never really in any doubt.
The 2,270 carefully vetted delegates cast their votes behind
closed doors in Beijing's cavernous Great Hall of the People for
the new Central Committee, a ruling council with around 200 full
members and 170 or so alternate members with no voting rights.
The committee will in turn, on Thursday, appoint a Politburo
of a few dozen members and a Politburo Standing Committee, the
innermost ring of power with possibly seven members, reduced
from the current nine.
Xi has long been expected to take over from Hu Jintao, first
as party chief and then as president when parliament meets for
its annual session in March. Li is Premier Wen Jiabao's
A ll the other eight leading officials who have been tipped
as possible members of the Standing Committee also made it on t o
the Central Committee, according to Xinhua.
That includes North Korean-trained economist Zhang Dejiang,
financial guru Wang Qishan, minister of the party's organisation
department Li Yuanchao, Tianjin's party boss Zhang Gaoli, and
the conservative Liu Yunshan, who has kept domestic media on a
Wang has been elected onto the Central Commission for
Discipline Inspection, the party's internal corruption fighting
watchdog, Xinhua said, pa ving the way for him to become its
head, als o as expected.
Wang Yang, Guangdong province's reform-minded party boss,
Shanghai party chief Yu Zhengsheng and the lone woman a mong the
contenders, Li u Yandong, w ere elected o n t o the Central
Committee as well.
After days of turgid speeches and rhetorical displays of
party unity, the five-yearly congress unanimously approved Hu's
"state of the nation" work report and approved a revision to the
party charter fur ther enshrining Hu's theory of sustainable and
Hu's work report warned that corruption threatened the
party's rule and the state, but said the party must stay in
charge as it battles growing social unrest.
Tiananmen Square, next to the Great Hall, has been decked
out with large red flags and huge television screens showing
clunky propaganda films all week, as the rest of city was put
under a tight ring of security.
More than slogans, the membership of these elite bodies
should foretell economic and political policy direction in the
years ahead, how much influence Hu will retain and who, looking
a decade ahead, could be China's next leaders.
The Central Committee then chooses the Politburo and the
Standing Committee, possibly with more candidates than seats for
the first time, sources with ties to the leadership have told
The membership of the two elite bodies could give an idea of
China's political and economic direction, especially if it ends
being dominated by conservatives instead of those with a
reputation to push reform.
Advocates of reform are pressing Xi to cut back the
privileges of state-owned firms, make it easier for rural
migrants to settle in cities, fix a fiscal system that
encourages local governments to live off land expropriations
and, above all, tether the powers of a state that they say risks
suffocating growth and fanning discontent.