CCP unveils leadership, dashing hopes of reform

Reuters, BEIJING

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 - Page 1

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) yesterday unveiled an older, conservative leadership lineup that appears unlikely to take the drastic steps needed to tackle social issues.

New party boss Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), Vice Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) and Vice Premier in charge of economic affairs Wang Qishan (王岐山) were all named as expected to the elite decisionmaking Politburo Standing Committee. All three are considered cautious reformers.

The lineup belied any hopes that Xi would usher in a leadership that would take bold steps to usher in reforms in China.

Besides party chief, Xi was also appointed head of the party’s top military body, which gives him two of the three most important posts in the country. He will take over from Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as president in March.

Hu’s predecessor, former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), did not give up the military post until two years after giving up the party leadership.

One source said an informal poll of more than 200 voting members in the party’s Central Committee was held to choose the seven members of the Standing Committee. Two who had strong reform credentials — Guangdong CCP Secretary Wang Yang (汪洋) and party organization head Li Yuanchao (李源潮) — failed to make it, along with the lone female candidate, State Councilor Liu Yandong (劉延東).

The source, who has ties to the leadership, told reporters on condition of anonymity that Wang and Li Yuanchao, both allies of Hu, did not make it because party elders felt they were too liberal.

However, all three are in the 25-member politburo, a group that ranks below the Standing Committee. It was earlier believed the voting was confined to the politburo.

This is the first time the lineup includes two women since the apex of the Cultural Revolution in 1969.

Fujian CCP Secretary Sun Chunlan (孫春蘭), 62, who sources said is a front-runner to become party boss of Tianjin, joined Liu as the second woman on the politburo. Liu is tipped to become a vice premier.

In Taiwan, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), in his capacity as chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), congratulated Xi yesterday on his promotion.

“Looking toward the future, the great cause of rejuvenating the Chinese nation is in the ascendant, the two sides of the [Taiwan] Strait expect a strengthening of mutual trust and sincere cooperation, which will benefit the people on the two sides,” Xinhua news agency quoted Ma as saying in a message.

In response to Ma’s message, Xi wrote back to say he hoped the CCP and the KMT would seize a historic opportunity to improve ties.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said in a statement that China should listen to Taiwanese public opinion now that it has named a new generation of leaders.

The DPP said it looks forward to seeing China deal with cross-strait issues in new ways, and hoped it would treat Taiwan as an equal to achieve genuine stability and peace across the Strait and in the region.

Additional reporting by CNA