Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hu hands China's military baton to Xi

The Chinese Communist Party, undergoing a once-in-a-decade change of its top leadership, confirmed on Thursday that Xi Jinping will take over the top party role as general secretary but surprised by announcing that Xi will take over from President Hu Jintao as head of the Central Military Commission (CMC). The appointment of Wang Qishan as top anti-graft official also indicates the new government's sense of priorities.

Xi was officially elected along with other appointments to the core Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, whose own new membership was selected yesterday by the party's 18th National Congress. The PSC was reduced in membership to seven from nine.
Xi, 59, will take over the state presidency from Hu at the National People's Congress (NPC) next March, when he will formally become the country's supreme leader. The other new leaders will also take up their government posts at that time.

The appointment of Xi as head of the CMC means outgoing President Hu has agreed to go into full retirement rather than follow the path of his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, who stayed on as CMC chairman for couple of years after giving up his party and state posts. After Hu passes his state presidency to Xi at the NPC in March, he will hold no official position.

It is speculated in Beijing that Hu has become tired by the intervention in party and state affairs of retired party elders and wants to use his own full retirement to put an end to such practices in China's political life. Accordingly, approving his request for full retirement, the party has also made a resolution to ban retired leaders from meddling in party and state affairs. If this is the case, then it is truly a mark of progress in Chinese politics.

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