Expect economic reforms to accelerate in China in the coming
five to 10 years, propelling a shift to domestic consumption as
the driver of growth rather than exports, but dont get
your hopes high for political reforms.
Thats the consensus of many China experts who observed
the Communist Partys 18th Party Congress, which closed
this week with the selection of Xi Jinping as the successor to
Hu Jintao as general secretary, and six other leaders who will
rule the worlds second-largest economy.
Joining Xi, the 59-year-old son of a Communist
revolutionary, will be Li Keqiang, 57, the current vice
premier. The two men will take over the reins of government in
March after their formal appointments by the National People's
Congress, with Xi succeeding Hu as president and Li taking over
from Wen Jiabao as premier.
Xi earned a bachelors degree in chemical engineering
and a doctorate in Marxist theory from Beijings
prestigious Tsinghua University, Chinas equivalent to the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Li, who holds a law
degree and a doctorate in economics from Peking University,
will become the first Chinese premier who was educated in
economics. Previous premiers have tended to come from
The party also picked five others who will join the two on
the Politburo Standing Committee, the nations ruling
council: Chongqing party chief Zhang Dejiang, 65; Shanghai
party chief Yu Zhengsheng, 67; Tianjin party chief Zhang Gaoli,
65; party propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, 65; and Vice Premier
Wang Qishan, 64, who is also the nations economic tsar.
The new committee has two fewer members than the previous
nine-member group, which analysts believe should foster
consensus building and facilitate decision making.
Except for former journalist Liu, the others served as
provincial leaders over the course of their careers and are
known for being economically liberal but politically
Their selection was the result of more than five years of
back room maneuvers between the various factions of the party.
Chief among them the sons of revolutionary leaders known as the
princelings, such as Xi; younger officials who are
members of party Youth League, like Li; and those who come from
the Shanghai faction led by retired president Jiang
Zemin, 86, who comes from Shanghai and remains a powerful
Several political reformers who were regarded as top
candidates were not selected. They include party organization
chief Li Yuanchao, Guangdong party chief Wang Yang and United
Front party chief Liu Yandong, the only woman among the