Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013

Xi Jinping named president of China

China's Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping arrives for a plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing March 8. Photo: Reuters

China’s Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping arrives for a plenary session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing March 8. Photo: Reuters

Leaders in Beijing have confirmed Xi Jinping as president, completing China’s 10-yearly transition of power.

Xi, appointed to the Communist Party’s top post in November, replaces Hu Jintao, who is stepping down.

Some 3,000 deputies to the National People’s Congress, the annual parliament session, took part in the vote at the Great Hall of the People.

The new premier – widely expected to be Li Keqiang – is scheduled to be named on Friday, replacing Wen Jiabao.

While votes are held for the posts, they are largely ceremonial and the results very rarely a surprise.

Xi was named secretary-general of the Communist Party on 8 November and also given the leadership of the top military body, the Central Military Commission.

This vote, handing him the role of head of state, was the final stage in the transition of power to him and his team, the slimmed-down, seven-member Standing Committee.

Austerity president

The son of a revolutionary veteran, 59-year-old Xi held top party roles in Zhejiang and Shanghai, before being appointed to the Standing Committee – China’s top decision-making body – in 2007.

Since his elevation to the top of the party in November, Xi has been feted in Chinese media as a man of the people who shuns the usual trappings of his position.

He has also been quoted emphasising the need to stamp out corruption at all levels, warning of civil unrest if party privilege is not tackled.

The party faced many challenges, he said in a speech after assuming the Communist Party leadership.

Problems such as “corruption and bribe-taking by some party members and cadres, being out of touch with the people, placing undue emphasis on formality and bureaucracy” had to be addressed, he said.

He is expected to make his first overseas visit as president to the BRICS summit in South Africa at the end of March. He is also expected to visit Russia, the foreign minister said.

The largely symbolic vice-president position was also to be decided on Thursday.

On Friday Premier Wen Jiabao’s successor will be named, with the party’s number two leader, former Liaoning party chief Li Keqiang, set to take over.

The NPC closes on Sunday.