Xi Jinping won a strong mandate Thursday to become the new president of the world’s most populous country while Li Keqiang was chosen the new premier.
Xi was appointed head of both the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Central Military Commission, the party’s top military body, as the once-in-a-decade leadership transfer in China came to a conclusion.
Five new members were chosen to the CPC Politburo’s Standing Committee — the country’s highest decision-making body — as the size of the committee was reduced from nine to seven.
Those five, in order of seniority, are Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang, Shanghai party boss Yu Zhengsheng, propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and Tianjin party boss Zhang Gaoli, BBC reported.
Following his ascent to the top of the party, Xi led the new leadership lineup, consisting of conservatives and those supporting reforms, out onto the stage at Beijing's cavernous Great Hall of the People.
In his address, Xi said he understood the people's desire for a better life while warning that the party faced severe challenges.
“Our party is dedicated to serving the people," he said in Mandarin after introducing the other six members of the Standing Committee in a televised ceremony, Reuters reported.
"It has led the people in making world-renowned achievements, and we have every reason to take pride in these achievements," he said.
"But 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."
The run-up to the power transfer was marked by the expulsion of disgraced politician Bo Xilai from the party and the top legislature on charges ranging from corruption to involvement in covering up his wife’s murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in a dispute.
Outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao also recently faced serious allegations of corruption targeting his family in the Western media which said Wen’s family members became “extraordinarily wealthy” during his leadership since 1998 when he was named vice premier.
The Standing Committee was endorsed in a vote early Thursday by the newly chosen members of the party Central Committee, though the frontrunners were unofficially decided in advance.
The handover of power is expected to occur over the next few months with Hu Jintao's presidency coming to an end at the annual parliament session in March 2013.
Gayathri writes about geopolitics and business for International Business Times. She began her career at the Times of India as news coordinator, before moving on to IBTimes...