New party leadership announced in China
The national congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded on November 14 with the election of the party’s 18th central committee. At the first meeting of the new central committee on November 15, a new politburo standing committee was agreed, comprising Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang along with Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.
The size of the standing committee was reduced from nine to seven members. Apart from Xi and Li, who are both in their 50s, the other five members of the standing committee are aged between 64-67, suggesting that they may only serve one five year term each, to 2017.
As general secretary of the CPC, Xi is set to replace Hu Jintao as president in March 2013 while Li is expected to assume Wen Jiabao’s position as premier, also in March 2013. Both are seen to remain in these roles until 2022. Xi has also assumed the role of head of the central military commission in contrast to the changeover in 2002, when former party secretary Jiang Zemin retained the position as head of the military. The party constitution adopted Hu’s Scientific Outlook on Development theory.
The 205 members of the 18th central committee elected on November 14 included the re-election of China Banking Regulatory Commission head Shang Fulin (CBRC head) and promotion of China Securities Regulatory Commission head Guo Shuqing, China Investment Corporation head Lou Jiwei, China Insurance Regulatory Commission chairman Xiang Junbo, Bank of China chairman Xiao Gang along with vice-minister of the State Council’s Development Research Centre and vice-chairman of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs Liu He.
The 171 alternate members of the 18th central committee included Agricultural Bank of China chairman Jiang Chaoliang, ICBC chairman Jiang Jianqing and China Construction Bank chairman Wang Hongzhang along with Bank of Communications chairman Hu Huaibang.
Those absent from the central committee included Minister of Commerce Chen Denming, Minister of Finance Xie Xuren, National Development and Reform Commission head Zhang Ping and People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan, suggesting a widespread reshuffle in leadership of these organizations. Further, current vice-premier in charge of finance – and sixth ranking politburo standing committee member – 64-year old Wang Qishan, has assumed the role of head of the party’s anti-corruption body, the CCDI or central discipline inspection commission.
Both Hu (in his opening and closing speeches on November 8 and 14) and Xi (in his first public speech as party secretary) focussed on the need to clamp down on corruption and upgrade the quality of growth.
On November 12, Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development Jiang Weixin was reported by Xinhua saying that the government is actively studying the expansion of an experimental property tax programme and would not relax restrictions on home purchases in the near term. The comments contributed to a decline in the share prices of property developers. Land acquisitions and environmental degradation were also highlighted during the party congress as areas of focus.