|Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping|
Any changes to the system envisioned by Xi are likely to be constrained by several older party leaders considered more conservative in outlook who were named Thursday to the Politburo Standing Committee. The body effectively runs the country and was shrunk from nine to seven seats, ostensibly for faster decision making and greater ease for reaching consensus.
After Xi and the No. 2 official, Li Keqiang, who will become premier, the other top officials, in order of their new rank, are Zhang Dejiang, 66, a North Korean-trained economist now running Chongqing; Yu Zhengsheng, 67, the Shanghai party boss; and Liu Yunshan, 65, the head of the Communist Party’s propaganda department, which is in charge of censorship. The final two on the seven-member committee are Wang Qishan, 64, known for his economic management skills, who will be in charge of anti-corruption efforts as head of the party’s discipline commission in the new government; and Zhang Gaoli, 66, the party boss in Tianjin.
The age of the new Standing Committee members, mostly in their late 60s, virtually ensures that there will be another partial transition in five years time.
The leadership transition is China’s first in a decade and only its second without chaos or bloodshed. The first real orderly transition was in 2002, when Jiang Zemin stepped down in favor of Hu. (Wash Post, 11/15/2012)