China to Reveal New Senior Leaders to Assist Next President

Posted November 14th, 2012 at 1:50 pm (UTC-5)
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China is preparing to reveal the identities of new senior leaders who will help the country's next president and premier to deal with major challenges such as slowing economic growth and widening public anger at government corruption.

The new leaders will walk onto a platform at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Thursday as part of the unveiling of China's next Politburo Standing Committee, the country's most powerful decision-making body.

The new Standing Committee is almost certain to include China's expected next president, Xi Jinping, and next premier, Li Keqiang, both members of the nine-person outgoing committee. The other seven members of the outgoing committee are retiring, but there has been no official word on who will replace them. Some observers have predicted that the new Standing Committee will be reduced to seven members from nine.

Outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao stepped down as Communist Party chief on Wednesday, the final day of a party congress that launched China's once-in-a-decade leadership transition. His widely-expected move set the stage for Xi Jinping, his vice president, to be named the new party chief on Thursday.

Mr. Hu is set to retain the ceremonial post of Chinese president until handing it over to Xi next March.

The membership of the new Standing Committee will reveal the outcome of a secretive process in which China's main power-brokers jockeyed to secure senior positions for themselves and their allies. The two main factions include loyalists of Mr. Hu, who became party chief in 2002, and allies of his predecessor Jiang Zemin, who retains influence in the Chinese leadership.

Analysts said Chinese vice premier for economic, energy and financial affairs Wang Qishan appeared more likely to be named to the top committee after being appointed to the ruling party's disciplinary body on Wednesday. Wang has represented China in economic talks with the United States and European Union.

Observers said Thursday's proceedings in Beijing also may reveal whether outgoing President Hu will retain the powerful role of chairman of China's military commission for a transitional period, or immediately hand the post to Xi. Former President Jiang kept the military post for two years after stepping down as party chief in 2002.

Before the new Politburo Standing Committee reveals itself to the media, the Communist Party's 205-member Central Committee will meet Thursday to select a new Politburo of about two dozen members. The Standing Committee will be named from among those members. Delegates to the party congress selected the Central Committee members on Wednesday.