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Mar. 10, 2015 - Updated 04:16 UTC



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China reveals new leadership

Naoki Makita

Oct. 25, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled the group of men who will run the country for the next 5 years. But there is no clear successor to Xi among the top members. The powerful 7-member group was announced following the Communist Party National Congress that wrapped up on Tuesday.

The ruling party's new Politburo Standing Committee walked onto the stage in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. At the front of the line was President Xi. "I was just re-elected as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee. I see this as not just an approval of my work, but also as encouragement that will spur me on," he said.

The party's number 2, Premier Li Keqiang, has also been given another term. The other 5 positions have gone to new members, who are all in their 60s. The committee has long selected younger members to ensure a smooth transition of power. Both Xi and Li had been picked for the powerful committee 10 years ago, then were further promoted to their current roles 5 years ago.

Earlier, Chongqing Municipality party chief Chen Min'er and Guangdong Province party head Hu Chunhua, both in their 50s, were tipped as candidates to become next generation leaders. But their names were not on the list. Li Zhanshu was the head of the party's General Office, and is said to have built a relationship with Xi when both of them served in Hebei Province in the 1980's.

Wang Yang used to be a member of the Communist Youth League, where many members later become party leaders, like former President Hu Jintao. Wang Huning is the communist party's political theorist and has significant influence in policy-making.

Zhao Leji is 60 years old, the youngest member of the committee. He was the head of the Organization Department, which oversees the party's human resources.

Han Zheng was Shanghai party chief. He is said to be linked to former President Jiang Zemin, but has recently been supportive of Xi's anti-corruption campaign.

Xi vowed to make the country prosper even more during his second term. "The aspirations of the people to live a better life must always be the focus of our efforts. I have no doubt in my mind that our people's lives will see further improvement year after year," he said.

The public are hopeful. "I think he is good because he's young, qualified and represents the people," "A change in living conditions is good for us. And I expect to see growth in housing, education and in the medical field," they said.

NHK World Correspondent Naoki Makita joins Newsroom Tokyo anchors Hideki Nakayama and Aki Shibuya from Beijing.

Nakayama: When I was in Beijing last week, there was a lot of speculation about who will be promoted to the Standing Committee. What's your take on the new leadership?

Makita: The new line-up shows President Xi has selected his closest allies and the most capable officials who worked under him in his first term. Li Zhanshu and Wang Huning are members of the so-called Xi Jinping faction. When Xi travels abroad, they are often seen by his side.

Zhao Leji is also seen close to Xi. He will succeed Xi's right-hand man Wang Qishan, who led Xi's anti-corruption campaign.

Wang Yang and Han Zheng are not from Xi's inner circle, but both are already members of the Politburo. They are seen as having gained Xi's trust as capable politicians, so the promotions aren't a surprise.

Shibuya: This time, they broke the tradition of choosing a clear candidate to succeed the top leader. What do you think could be behind this?

Makita: Observers have been on the lookout for someone who could serve as a potential successor to Xi, so background and age were 2 important factors. If candidates in their 50s were selected, they would have been seen as leadership contenders.

In this case, all members of the Politburo Standing Committee are in their 60s. Analysts say that's because Xi might be looking for a third term as top leader and he doesn't need to choose a successor yet. And I want to point out another note on the future leadership of China.

More widely, the majority of the 25-member Political Bureau is filled with former subordinates and others close to Xi. These include the Chongqing chief Chen Min'er and Beijing chief Cai Qi. Analysts point to this as a further indication of Xi's power -- he is only choosing people who are loyal to him to be leaders.

Nakayama: What did President Xi stress in the press conference?

Makita: He reiterated his message that China is set for a "new era" -- that means strengthening its military power, raising China's international presence in global affairs, and working to bring a better life to everyone in China.

Given that the party has enshrined Xi's name into the constitution, it's placed him into the annals of modern Chinese history. His authority has been elevated to the level of former political giant Mao Zedong. Modern China is seen as having 3 eras: the first under Mao, then one under Deng Xiaopin, now, a third -- the start of Xi's new era.