A new generation of leaders took to the stage on Thursday with Communist Party of China chief Xi Jinping acknowledging the challenges ahead, including improving people’s livelihoods and tackling corruption, and confidently pledging to overcome them.
Xi was sworn in on Thursday as general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC, leading the seven-member Standing Committee of the Political Bureau.
Members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee (from left) Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli arrive to meet the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday. [Xu Jingxing/China Daily]
He also took over as chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission from his predecessor Hu Jintao.
The other six members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau are Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli. They were elected at the first plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee following the Party’s 18th National Congress.
Wang was also elected secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC.
Two of the committee’s seven members — Xi, 59, and Li, 57 — were born after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
With a ready smile, appearing relaxed and friendly, Xi made his first public speech in his new role on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He spoke in front of a giant painting of the Great Wall dotted with red autumn leaves.
He noted the burdens shouldered by the new generation of leaders and the necessity of continuing reform and opening-up.
He also promised to improve people’s livelihoods and tackle pressing problems, including corruption.
Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping wave to delegates to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Thursday. HUA YOU / FOR CHINA DAILY
The Party has led the people in achieving great things, he said. “But we are not complacent, and we will never rest on our laurels.
“Our people have an ardent love for life. They wish to have better education, more stable jobs, more income, greater social security, better medical and health care, improved housing conditions, and a better environment,” Xi said.
“They want their children to be healthy, have good jobs and lead more enjoyable lives. Our mission is to meet their wishes.”
Xi also said the Party faces severe challenges, and there are many pressing problems within the Party that need to be resolved.
These include, he said, corruption, losing touch with the people’s concerns, being sticklers for formalities, and a bureaucratic approach adopted by some Party officials.
“We must make every effort to solve these problems. The whole Party must be fully alert,” Xi said, adding that the Party should supervise its conduct and operate under strict discipline.
Analysts spoke highly of Xi’s speech and his confident, natural delivery.
“It is rare for a new Party chief to directly address the issue of corruption at the first meeting with the press, and it showed unusual determination,” said Lin Zhe, a law professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
She said Xi had particularly mentioned the challenges of formalities and bureaucracy that confront the Party, and this underlined the importance he attaches to reaching out to the people and working for their benefit.
Liu Shanying, a researcher of political science at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Xi’s speech on livelihood issues shows his pragmatic approach.
“The speech is more about a better life, better income and other tangible commitments that the new leadership is going to deliver,” he said.
Ren Jianming, a professor at Tsinghua University, said he was also impressed by the new leader’s calmness and common touch.
But meeting challenges will not be easy, Ren said.
But Xi pointed out one sure path to success.”It is the people who have created history, and it is the people who are the true heroes. The people are the source of our strength,” he said.
“We must always be of the same mind with the people and share the same destiny with them, and we must work together diligently with them for the public good to live up to the expectations of both history and the people,” Xi said.
Zhao Yinan contributed to this story.