Xi Assumes China’s Presidency to Cement Transition of Power

Bloomberg News

Xi Jinping was named China’s president by the national legislature, replacing Hu Jintao in the country’s most rapid formal transfer of power in more than a generation.

Xi, 59, added the largely ceremonial title of president to his portfolio today after taking over the top post in the ruling Communist Party as well as chairmanship of the party’s military commission in November. It took Hu almost two years to get all top three positions. Jiang Zemin, who ruled China before Hu, had to wait almost four years to assume all the top posts.

The appointment of Xi cements a power transition that was thrown into turmoil last year when Bo Xilai was expelled from the ruling Politburo and his wife convicted of murdering a British businessman. Having all the formal positions gives Xi a leadership mandate in a system where retired leaders still hold sway, said Kerry Brown, a former British diplomat in Beijing.

“The party secretary is the bones, this is the covering of flesh,” said Brown, now a professor at the University of Sydney. “Granting Xi the full suite so quickly is a big deal — it shows huge confidence in him by the party elders and across factions.”

The National People’s Congress elected Xi by a vote of 2,952 to one, with three abstentions, for the first of what are expected to be two five-year terms. Li Yuanchao, 62, the former head of the party’s organization department and who studied at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, was appointed vice president…

…Xi inherits a country that is wealthier and militarily more powerful than during the leadership change a decade ago. In 2002, China was dueling with Italy for seventh spot among the world economies. Its 51.9 trillion yuan ($8.3 trillion) gross domestic product last year is second in size only to the U.S., while its military budget is set to rise 10.7 percent this year to 740.6 billion yuan…

Read the entire article at Bloomberg News.


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