It's official, Xi is China's new leader

On Thursday, China's Communist Party revealed its new leadership. Former Vice President Xi Jinping will be the new president, party chief, and head of the military.

Lee Jin-man/AP
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping attends during the closing ceremony for the 18th Communist Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Wednesday. Designated as successor five years ago, Xi will take over as party general secretary from Hu Jintao on Thursday, and as president next spring, in China’s second orderly transfer of power.

China's ruling Communist Party unveiled its new leadership line-up on Thursday to steer the world's second-largest economy for the next five years, with Vice President Xi Jinping taking over from outgoing President Hu Jintao as party chief.

Xi was also named head of the party's Central Military Commission, state news agency Xinhua said.

The other new members of the Politburo Standing Committee - the innermost circle of power in China's authoritarian government - include premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang and financial guru Wang Qishan, who will be in charge of fighting corruption.

The number of members has been reduced to seven from nine, as expected, which should help ease consensus-building as they tackle everything from growing social unrest to uncertainty in the domestic and global economy.

North Korean-trained economist Zhang Dejiang is expected to head the largely rubber-stamp parliament, while Shanghai party boss Yu Zhengsheng is likely to head parliament's advisory body, according to the order in which their names were announced.

Tianjin party chief Zhang Gaoli and Liu Yunshan, a conservative who has kept domestic media on a tight leash, make up the rest of the group.

Xi will take over Hu's state position in March at the annual meeting of parliament, when Li will succeed Premier Wen Jiabao.

However, Guangdong's reform-minded party boss Wang Yang did not make it to the Standing Committee.

Advocates of reform are pressing Xi to cut back the privileges of state-owned firms, make it easier for rural migrants to settle in cities, fix a fiscal system that encourages local governments to live off land expropriations and, above all, tether the powers of a state that they say risks suffocating growth and fanning discontent.

With growing public anger and unrest over everything from corruption to environmental degradation, there may also be cautious efforts to answer calls for more political reform, though nobody seriously expects a move towards full democracy.

The party could introduce experimental measures to broaden inner-party democracy - in other words, encouraging greater debate within the party - but stability remains a top concern and one-party rule will be safeguarded.

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