Chinese Communist Party leadership: Live Report
- Published: 15/11/2012 at 09:47 AM
- Online news:
This ends AFP's Live Report on the unveiling of China's highest decision-making body, the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee.
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping delivers his maiden speech. China unveiled its new leaders Thursday, with Xi marching on stage at the head of a revamped line-up that will steer the world's number two economy for the next decade.
Xi Jinping is now officially the head of the ruling party of the world's most populous state and second biggest economy.
Xi assumes power at an uncertain time with urgent calls for action on corruption and an overhaul of China's economic model as growth stutters.
Standing in front of his colleagues, Xi said the new leadership faced "enormous responsibility" but would fight for a "better life" for all China's 1.3 billion people.
05:10 GMT: Willy Lam, of Chinese University of Hong Kong, describes Xi's speech as an appeal for unity.
"Of course he has promised to do more for the ordinary folks, but he has recognised that the level and cynicism and the level of anger about corruption in high places and the social inequality is rising," he said.
"So he is appealing for unity between the party cadres and the people, but he will have a very hard time achieving those goals."
05:05 GMT: North Korea's Kim Jong-Un is among the first foreign leaders to issue formal congratulations to Xi.
Nuclear-armed Pyongyang is diplomatically isolated, with Beijing as its sole major ally. Kim said the two countries were "linked by the same mountain and rivers", hailing the "common precious wealth" of their deep-rooted and historic friendship, according to the official Korean Central News Agency
04:56 GMT: Zhang Xin, a political scientist at Renmin University in Beijing, says: "The main thing about the speech is that he emphasised the nead for the party to serve the people.
"There are fewer in the standing committee, so it's easier to get agreement and make decisions."
Xi's chairmanship of the military commission, he adds, will "allow him to consolidate his influence with the military. It shows the confidence of the party in Xi Jinping."
04:55 GMT: There are two women on the 25-strong Politburo, Liu Yandong and Sun Chunlan, according to a list issued by Xinhua.
04:50 GMT: Following are brief sketches of the seven members of the PSC, in order of seniority.
XI JINPING: Xi, 59, is expected to become national president in March and is said to be backed by former president Jiang Zemin, who remains influential today, but is widely considered a consensus figure in China's factional politics.
He has served as top leader in Shanghai and the coastal provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, all of them economically successful. His wife Peng Liyuan is a famous singer who holds the rank of army general, while their daughter studies at Harvard University.
LI KEQIANG: A bureaucrat with an unusually easy smile for China's colourless Communist officials, Li moves up in the party hierarchy and is due to be named prime minister in March, tasked with running the world's second-largest economy.
ZHANG DEJIANG: Born in November 1946, Zhang was installed as party secretary of the mega-city of Chongqing in February to replace disgraced Bo Xilai, whose fall amid scandal added to the usual factional uncertainty ahead of this year's reshuffle.
YU ZHENGSHENG: Yu, 67, has been party secretary of Shanghai since 2007, when he replaced the promoted Xi Jinping. A previous party secretary of Hubei province, Yu studied at the Harbin Military Engineering Institute. The son of Yu Qiwei, a party elder better known as Huang Jing, Yu is considered a Communist "princeling" and reportedly enjoyed good ties with Deng Xiaoping.
LIU YUNSHAN: Liu, 65, has been the Party propaganda chief since 2002. A former reporter for the state news agency Xinhua in Inner Mongolia in the mid-1970s, Liu became vice party secretary for the region in 1992. Widely viewed as a conservative.
WANG QISHAN: Wang, 64, is currently vice premier. He is a former Beijing mayor, Guangdong boss, and vice governor of the People's Bank of China. An English speaker, he represents China in economic talks with the United States and European Union, whose leaders have praised him for his efforts to help advance economic ties.
ZHANG GAOLI: Born November 1946, Zhang has been party secretary of Tianjin municipality since 2007. Trained as an economist, he spent decades in the southern business hub of Guangdong, rising to provincial vice party secretary.
04:41 GMT: Joseph Cheng, political analyst at City University of Hong Kong said the tone of Xi's speech was because "a new leader must establish his appeal to the people".
"There was a lot of praise for the Chinese people and also an admission of the seriousness of corruption as a problem," he said.
The PSC line-up, he added, "reflects considerable conservatism and the domination of Jiang Zemin's proteges".
04:36 GMT: Orville Schell, director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York, says of the new PSC make-up: "I would say it has worked out pretty much as everybody has imagined.
"It does speak of a reasonably stable process, that has gone according to plan."
But he adds that it has been "one of the most opaque of processes".
"The party still seems to have very little idea about how to write the next chapter of reform," he adds. "It evinces a concensus of extreme caution."
0431 GMT: The ceremony lasted 19 minutes. All the committee members wore dark suits and red ties, except for Wang Qishan, whose neckwear was blue.
04:26 GMT: But a Shanghai taxi driver was more cynical. "We don't know the new leadership, but whether they are good or not depends on how they govern," he said earlier. "They never do anything for the people!"
04:25 GMT: In Shanghai, my colleague Bill Savadove saw the broadcast on television with local residents. Bai Ling, a tax official, watched the new line-up emerge and called out the names of the politicians he recognised for the benefit of a handful of neighbours with him.
He hoped the new leaders could promote happiness and equality. "Life will be better, that's all the people want," he said. "If we had democracy like America, it would be chaos. There are too many people."
04:20 GMT: It is unusual for the new leader to speak on these occasions, so Xi's words will be carefully examined for clues on China's future.
After his speech, he leads his new colleagues off the stage, taking no questions from the media.
04:18 GMT: "We are not complacent, and we will never rest on our laurels. Under the new conditions, our 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," Xi said. "We must make every effort to solve these problems. The whole Party must stay on full alert."
04:17 GMT: Xi promises "continued efforts to free up our minds, carry out reform and opening up... work hard to resolve the difficulties the people face in both work and life."
04:16 GMT: "In modern times, however, China endured untold hardships and sufferings, and its very survival hung in the balance. Countless Chinese patriots rose up one after another and fought for the renewal of the Chinese nation, but all ended in failure."
The Communist Party was founded in response, he says, and has since "made great sacrifices and forged ahead against all odds".
"It has rallied and led the Chinese people in transforming the poor and backward old China into an increasingly prosperous and powerful new China, thus opening a completely new horizon for the great renewal of the Chinese nation."
04:12 GMT: "Ours is a great nation. Throughout five thousand years and more of evolution as a civilisation, the Chinese nation has made indelible contribution to the progress of human civilisation."
04:10 GMT: Xi says the new leaders will fight for a "better life" for the people. "Our people love life," he says, adding they yearn for better education, stable jobs, more comfortable living conditions and a more beautiful living environment, amongst other wishes. "The peoples' desire for a better life is what we shall fight for," he says.
04:08 GMT: "On behalf of the members of the newly elected central leadership, I wish to express our heartfelt thanks to all other members of the Party for the great trust they have placed in us. We will strive to be worthy of their trust and fulfill our mission," Xi says.
"We are greatly encouraged by both the trust all the comrades of the Party have placed in us and the great expectation the people of all ethnic groups in China have of us, and we are keenly aware that this is also an important responsibility for us."
04:05 GMT: The central committee met this morning and elected the new central leadership, he says, including himself as general secretary.
04:00 GMT: "Ladies and gentlemen, friends, good morning. Sorry to have kept you waiting. It's a great pleasure to meet you friends from the press," Xi says through an interpreter.
The congress came to a successful conclusion yesterday, he says and praises the press for being very professional dedicated and hard working.
03:58 GMT: After a short apology for the delay, Xi introduces his colleagues who step forward and wave as they are named., starting with Li.
03:57 GMT: Xi walks to the podium a slight smile on his face.
03:54 GMT: The ceremony begins in the hall with the new leadership walking out waving to the media.
03:53 GMT: The PSC will have seven members, says Xinhua. Aside from Xi and Li, they are Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan, and Zhang Gaoli
03:51 GMT : Li Keqiang, expected to take over as premier, running the government, moves up the Party hierarchy, says Xinhua
03:47 GMT: Xi has also been named chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xinhua says
03:46 GMT: STATE NEWS AGENCY XINHUA FLASHES XI NAMED HEAD OF CHINA'S NEW COMMUNIST LEADERSHIP
03:40 GMT: Brooke Corte of Sky News Australia tweets: Enjoying watching how TV anchors try to fill time while viewers watch vision of a room where nothing's happening.
03:34 GMT: With the journalists still waiting for the committee to march out, a new hashtag has emerged on twitter: #WhyXiJinpingIsLate
03:29 GMT : Xi is seen as a compromise figure, acceptable to outgoing leader Hu Jintao, still-influential former president Jiang Zemin, and other power-brokers.
03:26 GMT: Outside, Tiananmen Square has been closed to the public. It is very quiet and paramilitary guards, police, and firemen are making regular patrols near the Great Hall.
03:24 GMT: One of the questions to be answered is whether the committee will have seven or nine members. It usually has nine, but many reports have said it will be cut back -- which could help decision-making in the consensus-driven top echelons of the party.
0320 GMT: In the hall pictures from state television show the media waiting patiently, with some seated in the front rows and television crews standing at the back.
03:15 GMT: The government has ramped up security in Beijing and on the nation's popular social media sites to prevent any criticism during the congress.
The run-up to this year's gathering was unsettled by events surrounding Bo Xilai, a rising political star seen as a candidate for a slot on the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) until he was brought down by a scandal which saw his wife convicted of murdering a British businessman.
03:07 GMT: China-watchers will be trained on how the committee members emerge onto the stage, in a pecking order agreed after years of factional bargaining -- a process which intensified in the months leading up to the five-yearly reshuffle.
Xi, the current vice president and successor to President Hu Jintao, assumes power at an uncertain time with the party facing urgent calls to clean its ranks of corruption and overhaul its economic model as growth stutters.
China also bubbles with localised unrest often sparked by public rage at corruption, government abuses, and the myriad manifestations of anger among the millions left out of the country's economic boom.
02:55 GMT: Back in the Great Hall of the People, Robert reports that the press have been taken to the great eastern room (dongdating) where the grand unveiling of the standing committee will take place.
This room should be quite familiar to anyone who has watched news reports from China, as it is where Chinese leaders hold talks with foreign dignitaries.
Five rows of red chairs span the length of the room, facing a red carpeted dais (a raised platforn) decorated with a row of poinsettas, peonies and other flowers and greenery.
The leaders will walk out on the dais. A lone podium decorated with flowers sits on the left side of the dais. The unveiling will take place under a large Chinese water colour painting entitled "Golden Autumn on Yan Mountain" (Yan is the ancient name for Beijing).
02:50 GMT: Bill Savadove in Shanghai, China's commercial hub, tells me that the city has hoisted a banner telling people to "Fully study the spirit of the 18th party congress" outside the old Soviet-style exhibition hall, the venue for political meetings.
02:40 GMT: My colleague in Beijing, Robert Saiget reports that Tiananmen Square where the Great Hall of the People is located, was devoid of tourists. The vast plaza in the centre of Beijing is bounded to the north by the Forbidden City, normally a magnet for visitors.
About 500 journalists turning up for the event were put through double security checks before being allowed into the hall, where they were told by media minders that there was no signal for mobile phones.
Welcome to AFP's Live Report on the unveiling of China's highest decision-making body, the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee.
The event takes place in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, after the five-yearly party congress ended Wednesday.
Xi Jinping, the son of a revered Communist revolutionary, is widely expected to lead out the group as the Communist Party's new general-secretary, and as such the new leader of the world's most populous country and second-largest economy.
In China's one-party state the Communist post is the most important position in the country, more significant than the national presidency -- although Xi is also expected to take over there in March.
Officially the Politburo Standing Committee is chosen by the party's Central Committee, which was elected by the more than 2,200 congress delegates. In reality it is the product of years of backroom negotiations between different factions in the organisation.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency